Unión del Barrio Analysis On Trumpista Fascism &
The Struggle For Raza Liberation
The purpose of this four part analysis is to offer a summary of what Unión del Barrio has learned about liberation struggle within the political borders of the United States. We feel it is essential to critically analyze our struggle over time in order to better inform our members and our communities about what needs to be done now in the context of 2017, at the beginning of the Trump administration, and what we should expect going forward. Of course, before we can prepare ourselves for what is coming, we must first be very clear about how we got here. This analysis represents the culmination of ongoing internal discussion within UdB that began in November of 2016, intended to offer clarity on what must be done to resist what we have identified as trumpista fascism. We hope our collective analytical contribution, which is divided into four parts, will help bring about some of this urgently needed political clarity:
– PART ONE: We Owe Nothing To The Democratic Party: Let The Dead Donkey Die
– PART TWO: Republicans Hate Everyone & Everything: Beware The Walking Dead Elephant
– PART THREE: Our Struggles Transcend The Two Party System
– PART FOUR: Touch One, Touch All
We Owe Nothing To The Democratic Party:
Let The Dead Donkey Die
Part One of Four
During the final days of the Obama presidency we saw an effort in the media to mythologize the outgoing administration. This Obama myth was made perfectly clear by Obama’s January 10, 2017 farewell address in Chicago. This was partially rooted in the increasing fear being generated in relation to the incoming Trump government, but it was also part of a campaign to confuse and conceal the true nature of the Obama presidency. As an organization we share the responsibility to push back against Obama mythology and Trumpista fear mongering, and instead present a clear account of Obama’s legacy.
To begin, we must bring closure to the argument that reforming the Democratic Party is a viable option going forward. The Democratic Party is not our friend, and it maintains only a veneer of being on the side of the poor, workers, LGBTQ, “people of color,” etc. Throughout his eight years in power, Barack Obama was a master of perceived political moderation and self-restraint. His administration amounted to a multicultural, pseudo-progressive shell game, where time and again, a sleight of hand would direct the public attention towards less consequential “reforms,” while simultaneously drawing attention away from reactionary political economic activities. Evidence of this lack of progressive substance is immediately observable in the actual policies enacted by the Obama administration. For example, in exchange for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the unfulfilled promises of Deferred Action for Parents (DAPA) and so-called “comprehensive immigration reform,” Obama did what no Republican was able to do, rationalize and normalize nearly 3 million deportations, which not only amounted to more deporations than any other president before him, but more than all previous presidents combined.
Indeed, this became a pattern in Obama domestic policies.
- Obama was celebrated as the first Black President of the United States, while presiding over the most overt backlash against Black people and Raza seen in several generations. As president, Obama stood with his arms crossed to oversee a vicious wave of police murders of unarmed Black people across the United States, an aggressive national campaign of anti-black and brown voter suppression, and the continuation of the highest incarceration rate in the world. Furthermore, during his final days in office, Obama “pardoned” some political prisoners, but refused to pardon other important political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal, Ramsey Muñiz, Leonard Peltier, and Assata Shakur.
- Obama mustered the broadest and most diverse electoral coalitions ever seen in this country to win his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, only to dismantle these coalitions immediately after his victories. He quickly alienated his core support among organized labor (see EFCA), demobilized young supporters and progressives, etc., and thereby ceded electoral space to increasingly aggressive Republican strategies of voter suppression, gerrymandering, and corporatist control of elections (Citizens United).
- Obama eliminated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” (DADT), publicly supported marriage equality, and made overtures to trans community at the federal level. Yet, state legislation became increasingly homophobic, with Obama and the Democratic Party watching from the sidelines as this extensive state-level right wing backlash against LGBTQ rights unfolded across the United States.
- Obama extended limited help to a handful of families to save their homes from foreclosure, while supporting the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street and protecting corrupt finance capitalists from prosecution for having defrauded millions of families and crashing the global economy in 2008.
- The Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare” made limited forms of medical insurance less costly for some people, while primarily representing the largest give-away of public funds to private medical insurance companies and pharmaceuticals in history. Democrats celebrate how 20 million more people have health insurance, but the country did not become more healthy under Obama, and we therefore learned that making health insurance more widely available is not the equivalent of better health outcomes for the people of the United States. Moreover, from the outset Democrats made no secret of their support for excluding raza sin papeles from being covered under the ACA.
- Obama was celebrated as an advocate for the environment, while during his administration the transnational power of big oil was expanded, the price of a gallon of gasoline was cut in half, and neither Obama nor Hillary Clinton ever came out in support of the No Dakota Access Pipeline (NoDAPL) water protectors. Instead they both remained silent about the struggle, while the violence escalated to crush the most important environmental and indigenous struggle of the last 100 years. Furthermore, under Obama, U.S. domestic production of oil went up, the planet became more sick, fracking was dramatically expanded, and the water in Flint Michigan (and many other parts of the country) continued to poison poor Black and Brown children.
- Obama and the Democratic Party leadership publicly tolerated the social democratic “socialism” of Bernie Sanders while he was a contender to the presidential nomination, although behind closed doors they actively conspired to isolate, discredit, and undermine his candidacy when it became clear that he was beginning to win more popular support than Hillary Clinton.
Obama is still considered by most Democrats as a beacon of progressive domestic policy, although he did all of the above, oversaw an increase in the repressive power of the state, and the development of new surveillance technologies as a clear continuation of the Bush administration Patriot Act and entrenchment of the Department of Homeland Security. Internationally, there was a similar shell-game of liberal perceptions, though Obama’s Democratic administration was unwavering in its multilateral efforts to advance U.S. imperialism:
- Obama ordered the withdrawal of some occupation forces from Afghanistan and Iraq, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, and negotiated a nuclear deal with Iran, while presiding over the continuation of multiple “live” wars (over 26,000 bombs were dropped in 2016 alone), the violent overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya, and a massive expansion of drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya.
- Obama began a process to “normalize” relations with Cuba, while maintaining the criminal blockade against the island, and actively supporting a renewed Operation Condor to turn back the gains won by the popular struggles of the last twenty years throughout Nuestra América. U.S. efforts in Nuestra América under Obama included supporting both military and institutional coups (Honduras, Paraguay, Brazil, etc.), expansion of U.S. military bases, politically motivated assassinations (Berta Cáceres), economic coercion, false imprisonments, open support for violent right-wing extremism (Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador), media manipulation/censorship, etc.
- Obama lamented the narco violence in México, and issued his “concern” about our missing 43 students from Ayotzinapa. Instead of breaking ties with Felipe Calderón or Enrique Peña Nieto, how did this Democratic administration deal with the murderous narco-state in México? By propping up the same vendido neoliberal puppet Mexican regime, showering it with economic support since 2008 – nearly 3 billion dollars for the Mexican military to use for “national security measures,” hundreds of millions in aid for “democratization projects,” and by making México the 3rd largest economic partner of the U.S. with $531 billion dollars in annual trade. It is also important to note that the U.S. is, by far, the principal market for the Mexican drug trade, as well as the source of another $25 billion in Mexican national income from remittances, a sum that surpassed Mexican oil profits in 2015. Like presidents before him, under Obama the Mexican government did NOT have, nor did it need, the support of the Mexican people to survive, but instead only survived as a viable government through the direct backing of the U.S. imperialism. Additionally, México has become the principal government force for deportations of Hondureñas/os, Guatemaltecas/os and Salvadoreñas/os, with active interventionism of U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement within México itself. In fact Democratic Party darling, Alan Bersin, responsible for the militarization of the U.S.-México border in 1994, recently stated that “the U.S. southern border” is now “the México-Guatemala border.”
For eight years, Barack Obama and the Democratic Party appealed to (and became dependent on) an electoral coalition constructed on affect, identity, and neoliberal individualism, while simultaneously reinforcing the political economic pillars of empire – perpetual global war, mass deportations, exploitation of labor, corporate greed (see Trans Pacific Partnership – TPP), and international support for military coups. Moreover, they did this while maintaining the perception of diversity, political moderation, and self-restraint. In sum, this entire program went down with the acquiescence of the Democratic Party and U.S. liberals in general.
The Democratic Party happily provided Obama a hypocritical blindness towards the militarized national security state and imperialist designs of his administration. While Bush’s Gitmo was decried as a center of illegal detentions, torture, and human rights violations – images and stories depicting Obama’s Gitmo were censured and Obama was absolved of all of those crimes, at least in the public eye. The Democratic Party did not worry about weaponized drones, as long as they were deployed by Obama, against unnamed “enemies” in distant lands.
The Democratic Party did not raise the alarm as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry pursued a general strategy of disruption and destabilization of neoliberal non-conforming nations. The Democratic Party did not resist the coup in Honduras, nor did it defend the unaccompanied children that were forced to flee in the aftermath of that coup. Instead, Hillary Clinton declared “…we should send them back.”
The Democratic Party did not challenge the campaign of mass deportation that was launched against our communities, and instead sought to rationalize these deportations as an unpleasant necessity, in order to win Republican support for “comprehensive immigration reform.” Nor did Democrats care about the inherent anti-democratic danger in the creation and deployment of a state apparatus capable of undertaking a national campaign of mass deportations (ICE), as long as it remained under the control of Democrats. For eight years Democrats were soothed by a general liberal hypocrisy that framed political policies more along depoliticized identity politics and multicultural neoliberalism, of which Obama was their champion.
From 2008 through November 8, 2016, Democrats remained completely convinced of the systemic strength of U.S. electoral institutions, the political superiority of their multicultural neoliberal coalition, the “necessary evil” of their imperial ambitions, and in the inevitability of continued Democratic Party control of the White House. This explains why the Hillary Clinton campaign proved to be so completely incapable of challenging Trump, choosing to respond to trumpista proto-fascism primarily with media spectacle (celebrity endorsements), silly platitudes (“stronger together” or “they go low, we go high”), and empty slogans (“I’m with her.”).
Even when Trump called Clinton a “criminal” to her face, the spineless Democratic Party refused to challenge trumpista fascism, and preferred to conspire against its own loyal left wing (Bernie supporters), make overtures to Republican “moderates,” and pandering to liberal “constituencies” that would presumably deliver a Clinton “coronation.” The 2016 presidential campaign was allowed to become a reality TV circus show with very little political substance. Not even during the six months that the socialistic Bernie Sanders campaign was allowed limited access to a national media stage was there any substantive political economic critique of war, imperialism, environmental degradation, racism, or capitalism in general. Liberal political analysts are still mystified by how they could have gotten the election so wrong, and remain committed to assigning blame to everyone else for their own incompetence. Instead of mobilizing mass-based resistance to trumpista fascism, Democratic Party leadership is mostly silent these days, sneaking around Washington DC, hoping to figure out ways where they can “resist” Trump from the safety of their arm chairs in their air conditioned offices.
We owe the Democratic Party nothing. It is a party of organized duplicity, opportunism, with no political principles nor political consistency whatsoever. Ideologically, it is demoralized and bankrupt, except remaining aggressively pro-capitalist/imperialist, and a consistent supporter of neoliberal individualism. Beyond the West Coast and the Northeast, it is a failure as a national electoral party. Ultimately, the Democratic Party has been, and remains anti liberation, anti independent organization, and anti revolutionary ideology.