by Maniza Naqvi
When we are done rhyming words of hope and history to audacity we will need to wake up. When the much needed elation and good cheer wears off, of getting job one done, defeating Trump then the reality will set in.
More than 70 million people voted for Trump. Of which 55% are white women. There were pockets of votes for Trump in the various European, African, Asian and Latino immigrant communities. A percentage of young African American men voted for Trump rejecting perhaps, the ‘polite racism of white liberals” and their corrosive incarceration policies.
Despite everything, including Trump’s corruption, misuse of power, rhetoric, lies, actions, and the mismanagement of the pandemic response; Trump got more than 71 million Americans to vote for him. 8 million more than the votes he got in 2016. Only 5.3 million more voted for Biden in 2020 then did for Trump. And it is women, black and brown who have made the difference for Biden between winning or losing to Trump. It took an old white man with a neo-liberal background to defeat Trump by repeatedly pointing out to his voters that he was not a Progressive. Granted that the heroic leader of the Progressives is old and white too.
Trump has been the essential and astonishing disruptive virus needed to inoculate a sleeping giant called America and shake us out of our stupors to the glaring cruel realities that (1) the system of governance is outdated (2) there never was a Democracy here given the electoral college, political lifers in the Supreme Court, endless six year terms in the Senate; role of police as a militia on the plantation protecting the masters’ properties rather than honest brokers in keeping people safe; (3) there are huge systemic biases (4) there is a corrosive poison in the social media and in established news outlets and their pundits (5) the politics of America are predicated on funding war, big Pharma and subsidizing rural conservative white America, and (6) most everything in this country has been built through slavery and indentured servitude and on the terror and cruelty of commerce and coercion of black bodies.
America has woken up. Approximately 160 million of us woke up enough to go vote. A record turn out for a voting population that usually comes out in percentages of only 40% to vote. This time 60% or more of the voting population voted. Thank you Mr Trump.
So we woke up to vote. Are we going to be lulled back to sleep now? Even with the Biden-Harris win, no real change can happen without the Senate. And for now the Senate remains in the hands of the Republicans. But even if the Senate flips to Democrats in January 2021 will they make systemic changes? Will they make systemic changes to the governance structures, police (including providing more representative community policing), education, housing, health care and to the financial regulatory systems? Will we have universal health care (the absence of which has made the pandemic in America uncontrollable unlike any other place on the planet)?
The eligible American voting population is 240 million people. Of this number over 80 million eligible voters or 30% of the total voters did not vote. Given everything, why? Did they wake up too much? Did they awaken to the realization that both candidates and parties were false choices?
Given the issues of the last four years why didn’t 30% of the voting population vote? Who are they? Are they the Progressive Bernie Sanders voters who consider the Biden-Harris ticket Republican-lite? Or are they Republicans who didn’t want to vote for Trump but didn’t want to vote for a business as usual Democrat instead either?
As of the night of November 8, 2020, the numbers tell us stories. The fact that over 70 million people voted for Trump and only 5.3 million more voted for Biden, and that only maybe 65% to 75% of the voting population voted while 30% or 80 million voters sat it out tells us something about where the country is at socially and politically. And this should make us, at the very least, uncomfortable. Or even hopeful, maybe.
If I were to hazard a guess, I would offer this: the country is colored as Trumpist or Republican or Democrat because it is stopped from its Progressive core by corporate interests. The real grievances of the working class in America (black and white) are distilled into rage by the likes of Trump, because these grievances cannot be allowed to coalesce and distill into rational change because that would be progressive—and it would go against the interest of corporate power. And so then those who settled for less than a progressive agenda, relinquished themselves to continuing to hope and dream and voted Democrat and those who held on to their rage—voted Trump (minus the lunatic fringe). And more than 80 million American voters did not vote, maybe they woke up too much. The sleeping giant, America has woken up but has been suppressed for now.