As the American people have cast their votes on Tuesday, it is time to wholeheartedly congratulate the country with their 45th president: Donald J. Trump. While celebrations are high, and expectations even higher, it is nevertheless time to reflect on this historic moment. What does a Trump presidency mean for the left?
While the Clinton campaign is reflecting on their loss – or at least, that is the speculation that we must hold – the American people have to emphasise once again their political agency. An election is not, and was never meant to be, final. It is not a transfer of power from one president to another, but an exercise of the political constituency of a country. A democratic election does not end at the voting booth – though rather cliché, that is only the beginning of the democratic process. A vibrant democratic society remains diligent in all matters of political life. We should be reminded of Jefferson’s vital warning: “Once [the American people] become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves.”
If we truly believe that Sanders would have won, we should emphasise our majority and not remain but a silent one. Click To TweetBut we should not be too hasty of accusing Trump of being a wolf, though if he were, he is certainly not wearing a sheep’s clothing. Neither should we solely focus on condemning Clinton and the DNC (and Wasserman-Schulz in particular) on their ‘crooked’ ways to get the nomination. Rather, we should look more closely at Jefferson’s warning which is more acute today than it has been for the past decades. Our attention should not slip away now that the elections are over. Quite the contrary, precisely because of the overwhelming consensus over Sanders being able to win this election, we should once again revitalise the public towards its true function – a public in pursuit of active political participation. If we truly believe that Sanders would have won, we should emphasise our majority and not remain but a silent one. To reflect on Jefferson once again, freedom means nothing if it is not a freedom to be “a participator in the government of affairs”.
What this means is that the American people must once again emphasise their freedom, and they must do so continuously for the coming months and years. Neither Clinton and the Democratic Party, nor Trump and the Republican party, should be viewed as a complete representative of the people. Today’s democratic society cherishes its diversity more than it cherishes unity. If we wholeheartedly believe that Sanders would have been able to trump Trump, we should also believe that we can still make a difference in the coming years. This is indeed to say that despite Trump winning the election, we should not give in to the ideal of political consensus. We should accept him as a president, one who defeated Clinton – and mind you, this defeat was no small feat, despite the social media outburst of allegations towards her corruption (as well as jubilation of jail, unlikely as it is) – but we should also emphasise that we are still here and willing to fight for a better future.
Our strategy, from both left and right, is to emphasise the political agency of the constituents – those who trust Trump should not falter from reminding him of his promises; and those from the left should not remain silent (and destitute) of their loss. We should never become lethargic, lest we let Trump become a wolf that Jefferson warned us about, and we shall not tire of holding those in office accountable. A political agency is nothing more than a resistance to any kind of consensus – we remain under an illusion that Wall Street and Occupy, fracking and ecology, big business and trade unions, etc. can function without distorting what shapes the political life in America. This political diversity is the very essence of politics. To remain silent and let one camp to rule the country for the next four years without opposition, is to neglect the purpose of the presidential elections in America. Let us look once more at Jefferson, who insisted on the diversity and multitude of the American people: “to make us one nation as to foreign concerns, and keep us distinct in domestic ones”. In this distinctness we should let our voice be heard – that is democracy! Be it the Trump, Clinton, Johnson, Stein, or indeed Sanders – our voice is what creates a functioning democratic society, not an election nor a president.
We should thus reaffirm what attracted us to Bernie Sanders in the first place. We are all aware that it was not the person, but the platform that mattered most. There is no cult here (and I doubt there is one either with Clinton or with Trump). So let us emphasise what we – the young and the old, the right and the left – desire, without losing sight of our diversity. To keep the democratic society alive, we must first and foremost emphasise that what democracy is about is contestation.
Congratulations America with the 45th president! But the revolution is not over. Click To Tweet So on this note: Congratulations America with the 45th president! But do not for a minute think that the revolution is over.