Want to stop Trump? Voting on Nov. 6 is your chance
To stop Trump, defeating the Republicans on Nov. 6 is the essential first step. In this photo, the then-candidate is silhouetted against his plane as he speaks during a rally Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Bentonville, Ark. | John Bazemore / AP

The nation at a crossroads. The most consequential election in a generation. Everything is at stake this time.

Sound familiar? They’re phrases we hear from commentators and political leaders every other November or so. If you’re a progressive activist, a union or campaign volunteer, or even just a voter who pays a bit of attention, you’ve heard these claims from the podium and on your television set a lot the last couple of decades.

After a few times of being told the whole world depends on this one vote, the hyperbole about high stakes and crossroads starts to sound cheap. Without looking too closely, you might even conclude that nothing ever really changes, so how big a deal is it whether I vote or not?

The last two years of Trump-Republican domination of the entire federal government have proven clearly just how big a deal it is. The reason you keep hearing how high the stakes are getting is that the national political situation really is becoming more dangerous with each election.

The country, much like the world, is dividing into two camps. Masses of people are on the move—some in the struggle for progress, others taken in by reaction, racism, and right-wing manipulation.

Everywhere it seems the nationalist, authoritarian right is advancing. As historian Geoff Eley has written, “a politics that begins to look like fascism” is coalescing in many countries. The steady escalation of Trump’s fascist-like rhetoric proves that the United States is no exception to the rule.

Just as the Great Depression of the 1930s presented the stark alternatives of either fascism or social advance, our modern capitalist crisis—the financial meltdown of 2008-09 and the Great Recession that followed—have given us a similar choice. We are still living in the world created by the economic collapse that punctuated the end of the George W. Bush years.

In its aftermath, the progressive camp initially scored big, if imperfect, victories. Massive public spending on jobs and economic stimulus after the 2008 election. The winning of the Affordable Care Act. The expansion of Medicaid (which is still playing out). The (incomplete) winding down of the Iraq War. The election and re-election of the first Black president.

Trump and the regressive Republican agenda that hides behind the façade of “Make America Great Again” are the mirror image of those gains. In this alternative reality, health care for all is a threat to the nation, tax giveaways to the rich are the only legitimate economic policy, immigrants are the source of all our troubles, and objective truth no longer exists.

Trump stands as the uniting figurehead holding together a fractious GOP coalition. In his ranks are open racists, the traditionally Republican business elite of the Chamber of Commerce crowd, major sections of finance and Wall Street, big oil, the defense industry, Evangelicals, and, unfortunately, a good chunk of the working class.

Trump isn’t the ideal or even preferred leader for many of these groups, but many are sticking with him, no matter how extreme his actions and rhetoric become.

Standing in the way of the Trump juggernaut is a broad coalition of forces determined to stop the country’s decline into racism, inequality, and misogyny. There is the women’s movement, which fired the opening shot of the resistance immediately after Inauguration Day 2017 and kept it going with the #MeToo phenomenon. Black Lives Matter and the campaigns against police violence and institutional racism. The students leading the nationwide fight against the gun lobby after the Parkland, Florida massacre. Democratic socialists and other progressives running for local office across the country. The united labor and community response to anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim policies—whether of the substantive or gimmick variety. The organized labor movement combating the infection of Trump’s deceptive economic ploys among the working class.

Like the GOP, the progressive side has its factions, too. There is the insurgent left headlined by figures like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as the centrists of the old Third Way variety. But this divide, while real, is often hyped by the media’s “Democratic Party civil war” headlines. The real story playing out on the ground right now is one of principled and pragmatic unity to beat Trump—as showcased by candidates up and down the ballot like Stacey Abrams in Georgia, Andrew Gillum in Florida, and others.

For those who are serious about stopping the worst excesses of the Republicans and beginning the torturous climb back from our rapid national decline under Trump, there should be little doubt about where the fire should be aimed.

More on elections and strategy:

> ‘Voting lesser evil’ is no way to think about elections

> The popular front—Now more than ever

> Does Donald Trump own the “white working class”?

> The way to rebuff President Trump’s Hate Holiday Weekend

Likewise, there should be no doubt that the most important immediate step to take is voting on November 6 and getting as many of your friends, family members, co-workers, and complete strangers as possible to do the same.

Do you want to see real investment in public goods rather than tax giveaways to the richest among us? Vote.

Want to stop the elimination of federal minimum wage laws? Vote.

Want to save Obamacare and expand it into Medicare for All? Vote.

Want to still have Medicare when you’re older (or keep it if you’re already on it)? Vote.

Want to spend money on infrastructure and jobs instead of bombs and unnecessary wars? Vote.

Want to stop U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen which has killed thousands and is starving millions more? Vote.

Want real fair trade negotiations and international diplomacy instead of damaging tariffs and economic stunts? Vote.

Want the country to deal with climate change instead of ignoring it? Vote.

Want to see the crimes and corruption of Trump and his accomplices investigated and exposed? Vote.

Want to see more women and people of color in public office? Vote.

Demonstrators march through the streets of Chicago during the Women’s March Chicago on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Thousands of people marched through downtown Chicago to express their displeasure at President Donald Trump and encourage voters to go to the polls for next month’s midterm election. | Ashlee Rezin / Chicago Sun-Times via AP

Want to score more victories against sexual harassment and workplace assault? Vote.

Want an immigration system that is humane and pragmatic? Vote.

Want to tell neo-Nazis and the fascist “alt right” that there’s no place for their rhetoric and violence in America? Vote.

Want to reject the racist and anti-Semitic terrorism that has gripped the country in recent days? Vote.

Want to save the legal existence of trans people? Vote.

Want to stop voter suppression and protect the right to vote? Exercise that right, and take someone with you to the polls to do the same.

Want to see Donald Trump thrown out of office in 2020? Then start by voting against all the Trump-backed Republicans running for office in your state.

And whatever the outcome on election night, don’t stop. The country, like the world, is in a titanic struggle to determine the future. It’s not a one-day fight, or a task that comes around every two years. We go forward, or we continue going backward with Trump and the GOP.

Which side are you on?


CONTRIBUTOR

C.J. Atkins
C.J. Atkins

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People's World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People's World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.

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