We have no illusions about the impact of Donald Trump’s victory. It is a disaster. The prospect of a unified right-wing government, led by an authoritarian populist, represents a catastrophe for working people.
There are two ways to respond to this situation. One is to blame the people of the United States. The other is to blame the elite of the country.
In the coming days and weeks, many pundits will be doing the former. Frightened liberals have already written explainers on how to move to Canada; last night, the Canadian immigration website went down after a surge of traffic. The people who brought us to this precipice are now planning their escape.
But blaming the American public for Trump’s victory only deepens the elitism that rallied his voters in the first place. It’s unquestionable that racism and sexism played a crucial role in Trump’s rise. And it’s horrifying to contemplate the ways that his triumph will serve to strengthen the cruelest and most bigoted forces in American society.
Still, a response to Trump that begins and ends with horror is not a political response — it is a form of paralysis, a politics of hiding under the bed. And a response to American bigotry that begins and ends with moral denunciation is not a politics at all — it is the opposite of politics. It is surrender.
To believe that Trump’s appeal was entirely based on ethnic nationalism is to believe that a near majority of Americans are driven only by hate and a shared desire for a white supremacist political program.
We don’t believe that. And the facts don’t bear it out.