Where Do We Go From Here : In Search of A Second New Left

By Katen Burgess

Donald Trump was elected President of the United States earlier this month, and I am still dumbfounded by it. Was America not ready for its first woman president? Was Hillary Clinton not the right woman?

Was the Democratic Primary too dirty and too controversial? Did Bernie Bros in battleground states switch sides in the privacy of the voting booth? Were people outraged by Hillary’s emails or just so sick of hearing about it they voted against her?

I don’t have the answers, all I have are questions.

In case you’ve forgotten, the Trump campaign was full of promises of law and order, sadly, these promises had little to do with bringing back them much-loved crime show starring Ice-T. Instead the Trump campaign is invoking a Nixonian approach to racism rather than the overt approach used by the Ku-Klux Klan, who endorsed Donald Trump and held rallies to celebrate his victory.

President-Elect Trump’s campaign promises also included a deportation task force, a ban on all muslim immigrants, and a wall along the mexican border. This isn’t to say that every person that voted for Donald Trump is a woman-grabbing racist, but everyone that voted for him made a decision that those things didn’t disqualify him from leading this country and that scares me to death.

I’m a Democrat, but I find that many democrats tend to be more conservative than I am. I don’t love the two-party binary of American politics. I think that any kind of binary is counter-productive to understanding and progress. There’s no black and white in the world, only shades of grey.

The New Left was movement that took place sometime between the late 1950s and early 1970s that has ties to communism and the hippy movement. There’s no denying that there was a significant political and social progress took place in that period of time. Could we be on the precipice of a second New Left?

The Tea Party movement started in 2009 as a reaction by conservatives to Barack Obama’s election and decisions in his first year in office. Tea Party members are registered as Republicans that do their best to pull GOP further to the right. The question that I keep asking myself is can Democrats find a way to engage the far-left?

There is a significant population of progressives that are disillusioned with or downright opposed to the two-party system. If they could be convinced to caucus with the DNC, and vote Democrat in national politics, and pull the party from the center further and further left we could really be onto something. If not, we may be witnessing the end of the Democratic Party.

I’ve taken to calling this the Bernie effect. Senator Sanders pulled the conversations inside the Democratic party further left instead of closer to the center. It’s no coincidence that Senator Sanders garnered a dedicated and vocal following, it wasn’t so much that young people were so enthralled with a 75-year old New Yorker as it was that he was bringing up the issues that mattered to people.

People all over the country, okay maybe not all over, but definitely on blue coastal states, are protesting and organizing walkouts over Trump’s election. Who can blame them? The United States of America has elected as its leader a demagogue that campaigned almost exclusively on xenophobia, islamophobia and sexism.

Midterm elections are two years away; all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for election, 33 out of 100 senate seats, and 39 governorships are also on the line. People are engaging politically, and rejecting the hateful platform that resulted in Donald Trump’s election to the White House. We’re seeing the potential energy of forward thinking becoming kinetic energy, we just have to see where it goes.