Dangerous Myths About Trump That Some Progressives Cling To


Even now, in the last days of this horrendous campaign, we’re amazed by fervent assertions coming from some progressives about Donald Trump. Here are three key myths:

Myth #1: “Trump can’t win.”

The popularity of this illusion has waned, but still remains remarkably stubborn. This week the polling has moved in Trump’s direction. Several battleground states that were close now seem to be trending toward Trump, including Ohio. A couple weeks ago, the respected forecasters at Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website gave Trump a 12 or 13 percent chance of becoming president. Now it’s a 1 in 3 chance.

Myth #2: “If Trump becomes president, he’ll be blocked from implementing the policies he’s been advocating.”

Some progressives have apparently convinced themselves of this comforting thought. One longtime Green Party activist claimed in an email a few days ago: “Trump would not be allowed by the ruling class or by us to actually implement his retrograde domestic social policies.” Such claims from self-described radicals involve a notable faith in the ruling class that we don’t share. And let’s not have an inflated view of our own power to block the policies of a President Trump.

Myth #3:  “Trump couldn’t do much damage as president.” (Variation on Myth #3: “Trump is no more dangerous in the White House than Hillary Clinton.”)

If progressives watched Fox News a bit more, they’d understand that Trump plans to appoint to the most powerful policy positions of the U.S. government individuals who are as whacked out as he is: Rudy Giuliani, Dr. Ben Carson, war fanatic John Bolton, to name just a few. And hundreds like them to other top posts. (Clinton surrounds herself with corporatists and hawks, but overall they’re a less virulent strain.)

A Trump presidency — made possible by his demagogic appeals to racism,misogyny, immigrant-bashing and Islamophobia — would empower the worst elements of U.S. society. That’s why an official Ku Klux Klan newspaper, the Crusader, devoted its latest front page entirely to supporting Trump. These forces are already in motion, as Politico reported on Wednesday with this headline: “White nationalists plot Election Day show of force; KKK, neo-Nazis and militias plan to monitor urban polling places and suppress the black vote.”

We have no illusions about Hillary Clinton. Neither one of us live in a swing state (we’re residents of New York and California where Clinton leads in each state by 20 percent); in our “safe states,”we’re voting for Jill Stein of the Green Party. But if we lived in a swing state, we would vote for Clinton as the only way to prevent a Trump presidency. Because it’s the state-by-state electoral votes, not the popular votes, that determine who will inhabit the White House.

As Noam Chomsky said in May, “If Clinton is nominated and it comes to a choice between Clinton and Trump, in a swing state, a state where it’s going to matter which way you vote, I would vote against Trump, and by elementary arithmetic, that means you hold your nose and you vote Democrat. I don’t think there’s any other rational choice. Abstaining from voting or, say, voting for, say, a candidate you prefer, a minority candidate, just amounts to a vote for Donald Trump, which I think is a devastating prospect.”

Which are the crucial swing states? The latest assessment from FiveThirtyEight points toward these dozen states as potentially decisive: Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Other pollsters include Arizona, Georgia and Iowa as battleground states.  

We need clarity and not mythology about the threat of a Trump presidency.

Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon are the co-founders of RootsAction.org.

4 Comments

  1. Gregory Koenderman November 5, 2016 3:59 am 

    The debate between LEVers and NEVERs seems a bit like the debate between science and religion. Science offers rational, testable claims about some aspects of the world. A solid, but incomplete offering. Religion offers a complete explanation for everything, but based on unverifiable, sometimes reasonable, sometimes lunatic claims.

    LEVers use solid logic but don’t offer a full solution to the problem. NEVERs offer a solution to break the system, but make no attempt, as far as I can tell, to show how it would actually work. As with religion, this also seems to involve no-infidel-left-standing crusades.

    I’m with Paul D on this one.

  2. Clive Ray November 4, 2016 8:11 pm 

    At last a word of common sense on Znet. It’s been a long time. I’m talking about Kread, of course.

  3. Kread November 4, 2016 3:45 pm 

    Same old argument, and it will be the same one in 2020, 24, 28, 32……
    Don’t vote for the candidate you want, vote for the ‘lesser evil’.
    Thank goodness there is an ever growing number of young voters who see where this thinking gets you. Nowhere.

    • avatar
      Paul D November 4, 2016 9:27 pm 

      Kread,

      You are confusing elections of US presidents with messiah selection. Or alternatively, you are confusing voting with irrational and emotional acts of spite.

      Compare the platforms of the Democrats with the Republicans. Which one contains measures that can be at least supported as part of a program of advancing our own agenda further forward, versus the one that is horrific and fascist from one end to the other without a single positive measure in it?

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