Tomorrow, Americans go to the polls, except most of them wont. There’s a theory that the mid-term elections could be the beginning of the end for Trumpism. There might be a “blue surge” for the Democrats that prevents #45 from advancing his reactionary agenda further if the Republicans lose control of the levers of political power in DC. There are two immediate problems with that. First, it rests on an assumption that political power derives solely from democratic institutions and second, a lot of the damage has already been done. The appointment of conservative, lifetime-serving Supreme Court judges is the most obvious sign of this, but there are others.
But probably the biggest reasons Trump will visit the same city I’m in today feeling brashly confident are that 60% of the electorate wont vote tomorrow and many of those that will don’t have strong enough reasons to vote against him.
Cleveland isn’t necessarily the ideal place to forecast tomorrow’s election, but all politics is, to a degree, local and especially in a country as vast and diverse as this.
The city is rock-solid Democrat, but in a state (Ohio) that is Republican controlled and largely rural. This urban/rural divide is a fundamental feature of US politics. But even here, there’s the view that Trump is delivering for the Rust Belt. From a different perspective, I’m writing this from an almost exclusively African-American neighbourhood. I was just in a local cafe. They weren’t watching Fox or CNN. They were watching a DVD of speeches by the Prophet of Division, Louis Farrakhan.
Underlying all this, of course, is the virtual absence of a credible political alternative which, for now, would have to come from the Democrats. Although there are some places where more progressive candidates are making the running, overall it still feels like the party is fighting a loosing internal battle between the ghosts of Obama and Clinton. Very sadly, the ghost of Sanders doesn’t seem to be at the feast.
A counter argument to this pessimism is one I heard yesterday,, perhaps surprisingly, while “tailgating” before an American football match, often (with some justification) seen as a bastion of Trump-like bigoted nationalism. But someone I was talking to said there will be a silent rebellion tomorrow. In particular, he predicts that suburban women will take the opportunity to metaphorically slap the abusive misogynist’s face.
I hope he’s right. But even if he is, that will only be a silent majority of a voting minority. For what it’s worth, I predict stasis, which would be a terrible result.