Role Playing The Resistance: How Liberals Grift Movements In The Age Of Trump
The exploitation of progressive rhetoric for the sake of advancing careers, building platforms, and launching hollow political campaigns has become part and parcel of the liberal grift. It is a long con game several are good at playing, as they boast of “resistance” but have no road map for what to politically do next.
Liberals have mastered the art of co-opting the language of socialism to appeal to their base while clinging to a neoliberal agenda that the Democratic Party has championed for at least the past few decades.
In the face of a presidential administration characterized as perfidious, and bumbling, the Democratic Party offers no alternative vision that will meaningfully challenge the current regime. The party establishment tells Americans the ship is sinking, but for propriety’s sake, they should not make too much noise.
The Democratic establishment incorporates the language of McCarthyism, including nationalist expressions denouncing treason and adulating patriotism, to confront President Donald Trump. They rehabilitate former President George W. Bush as an esteemed painter and retiree instead of regarding him as a war criminal who should have served time in prison.
Rather than lash out at Trump’s favorite policies, the glaring indecency of Trump causes the most vociferous pushback and consternation. They loathe the boorish executive, who is unable, or unwilling, to hide behind ornate language and long for an articulate capitalist, able to more politely commission executive orders, someone like former President Barack Obama.
If the president is going to uproot entire communities, spy on them, and bring nations to the brink of collapse, then the Democratic establishment thinks the president better look and sound magisterial. If there must be blood, then for the sake of public image, let the butcher have charm.
Twitter’s resident thread-maker, Eric Garland, a self-described “strategic intelligence analyst,” regularly expresses how Trump’s “humiliation of the nation” threatens an entire “world order.”
Garland proves once more that American pundits do not understand the world around them; only that the United States should be at the center of it, and our leaders should do what they must, as long as they don’t embarrass Americans.
With that in mind, it is no wonder that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is an American favorite, with four out of ten saying they would prefer him as president over Trump.
Trudeau is marketed as the anti-Trump—a charismatic, empathetic, and (arguably) attractive face of authority. This is fantastical depiction even includes his socks taking the international stage.
What is missing in this glamorous depiction of Trudeau, who is another cut out from Canada’s ruling class, is attention to policy, including the continuation of discriminatory government services access against indigenous people, the approval of pipeline projects, and a list of broken administrative promises, all of which have been denounced by First Nations groups like Idle No More.
Trudeau is a member of the #Resistance trio, which includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, affectionately described as “leaders of the free world.”
Merkel, head of the conservative Christian Democratic Union party, who recently voted against Germany recognizing same-sex relationships, and Macron, an anti-union investment banker who openly fantasises about being godlike, or “Jupiterian,” are celebrated through political fan-fiction espoused by pundits as examples Trump should emulate.
But there is nothing appealing about newly elected president Macron, who recently suggested that African women are having too many children. Such depraved rhetoric is all too common, and even more brazen as it comes from the leader of a nation with a recent colonial history.
The fawning over Trudeau, Merkel, and Macron is significant. It shows how policies, which should be the most fundamental deciding factor in terms of one’s loyalty to politicians or parties, are so easily trumped by fealty to a political aesthetic.
Calls for liberation, as espoused and championed by the left—through struggles for health care, housing, workers rights, etc.—are viewed by the liberal as conditional and predicated on the basis of individual conditions rather than the material conditions of society as a whole.
The issue with the liberal establishment isn’t simply with corporate Democrats, or the Democratic Party, but with those who reject communal, internationalist solidarity efforts that would, for example, result in achieving universal health care for all.
It is necessary to repudiate the American liberal, its role in political power, and the ideology promoted because they typically fail to acknowledge the roots or systemic nature of problems facing citizens.
In November 2016, a universal health care measure known as ColoradoCare was defeated, thanks in part to a well-funded, vocal opposition: local Democrats.
Alongside the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, John Hickenlooper and U.S. senator Michael Bennet came out swinging against the amendment, with the latter arguing that single payer wasn’t “the answer to our health care problems.” Hickenlooper said there wasn’t any chance ColoradoCare would pass, and that “a couple [of] large health care related companies that are looking at moving their headquarters here” felt threatened by the measure.
When the left opposes Democrats for rejecting policies, such as Medicare For All, organizers are labeled destructive. They are treated as detractors. They are vilified as treacherous or impractical.
This vilification is assisted, in part, by the unadulterated commodification of identity politics, used by liberals, and more often by white liberals, as a form of currency in order to stifle grievances and mobilization efforts.
In March 2016, Salon writer Amanda Marcotte was enthusiastically hopeful about Trump carrying the Republican nomination, writing that “he’d run the best campaign,” and predicting that should he win the Republican nomination Hillary Clinton would “wipe the floor with him.”
“Modern conservatism is built on a base of protecting men’s dominance over women, white people’s dominance over people of color, and rich people’s dominance over everyone else, but it’s generally considered impolite to say so bluntly,” Marcotte argued. “Instead, it’s standard for Republicans to pretend that policies obviously designed to screw people over are meant to help.”
Marcotte referencing white dominance, and “rich people” is telling. It shows how liberals adopt the language of what is, at its core, truly progressive, and radical discourse. This, however, masks their true views.
In February, Marcotte criticized Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders’ “single payer idea” as being “for everyone” instead of just lower income people, and she applied the same criticism towards education.
The problem for Marcotte is that these programs would benefit everyone, even “rich people.” This, again, goes back to the American liberal’s understanding of health care, education, housing, etc. as services that take up philanthropic spaces, or exist as charity retail, instead of functioning as fundamental components of society for all. People like Marcotte view these services as government-offered privileges instead of rights.
In the face of growing left organizing across the U.S., accusations of “purity” are common—every demand made by organisers is met with contempt, and allegations of wanting a perfect candidate, when one does not and will never exist. It’s why the meme “but her emails”, referencing Hillary Clinton’s server fiasco and the criticisms that followed, as though genuine criticism is what upended her campaign, took off among the liberal commentariat.
The hardened belief that leftists are asking for more than what’s possible, that they should settle instead of fight, is the backbone of their ideology.
Ian Millhiser, justice editor at ThinkProgress, put it plainly when he wrote that “the problem with Democrats is that, no matter how feckless they are, the other option is pure evil.” According to Millhiser, even if the Democrats are worthless—and they are—they are a better option than evil. This is based on the floaty contention that at their worst the Democrats are worthless but rarely detrimental.
From single payer healthcare and student loan forgiveness, to increasing the minimum wage and affordable housing programs, movements have adopted demands for justice. The #Resistance borrows the language of these movements. They impersonate leftists challenging Trump, and then reveal their phoniness by lapsing into nationalist expressions as they respond to sensational allegations swirling around Trump and Russia.
No matter how much more authoritarian government has become under Trump, what has not changed is the inveterate charade of Democrats, and their liberal allies in the pundit class, who sabotage energized movements built around the unwavering conviction that communities deserve more, should demand more, and in fact, can achieve more.