Reject All Calls for “Healing”
Beware, with utmost vigilance, rhetoric around the idea of the nation “healing.” Democrats would have you believe their elevation into power is akin to Wolverine’s wounds sewing themselves up like magic. In the unstable atmosphere of the Trump era, the Dem establishment campaign is essentially this: Vote for us and everything will be back to normal.
You can see how this might appeal to materially comfortable upper middle-class liberals whose main criticisms of Donald Trump were that he was crass and racist in an obvious, clumsy way. The type of people who have elevated Barack Obama to a position of hero worship without any critique of the atrocities perpetuated by his presidency. Folks who might say, “I sure miss having a president that was charming and well-spoken,” all while overlooking (or simply not caring about) the fiasco at Standing Rock, the fact that migrant kids in cages and the separation of families were not something Mr. Trump invented, the drone strike campaign, the horrific and audacious bailout of Wall Street.
The type of people who appear to think Donald Trump’s ascendance to the Oval Office was a flash in the pan rather than a predictable, inevitable outcome of the underlying conditions sustained and amplified by both Democrats and Republicans for decades. The conditions produced inevitably by a nation whose foundation rests upon the coercive power of capital. Blue capitalism, red capitalism, then blue capitalism, then…
Normal is not good enough
So, of course, “back to normal” does not appeal at all to the people who suffered from those atrocities. I’d call those outcomes failures but something feels inaccurate about that; you can only fail at something you were trying to do. The Obama Administration is more like a success at being an extension of capitalist interests. In many ways, as presidencies go, it was the norm. And it was an important lesson for us all that the elevation of a Black man into the White House doesn’t equate to the liberation of Black people, something important to consider as Vice President-elect Harris continues her political ascent. The Democratic Party thrives on symbolic politics. But who can look around and say symbols are all we need right now?
Demand a government that sees your struggle and centers it in its agenda, a government that makes ending the suffering of the most vulnerable its core endeavor.
Similar to the absurd Make America Great Again (when was it great? For whom?), healing ostensibly implies the value of a return to some better default state, to something good, something whole. But it was never good. The atrocities were only better hidden.
So we have to ask, what value is a return to 2008–2015 politics for the houseless person, for the migrant, for the exploited laborer, for the student crushed by loan debt, for the insulin rationer, for the Black and indigenous human? The message of “healing” reads loud and clear for the poor and the working class: We do not see you. We are not a government that will transform, address, or even acknowledge the root conditions of your suffering.
We should be clear about this: the Democratic Party is racist. If your impulse is to reject that based on their relative appearance and rhetoric to the GOP, I invite you to a deeper analysis and understanding of systemic racism. When MLK talked about judging folk by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, he did not mean “vote people into office just because they’re minorities.” Identity politics is not progress. Class consciousness is. We simply need to reject the Democrats’ invitation to repair the country because its fundamental design is flawed. We don’t need to fix this one, and indeed can’t. We need a different one. We need a nation unrecognizable to us.
The need for more
Look around. The problems raging across the American landscape — racial violence and police brutality, the ludicrous concentration of wealth while millions upon millions needlessly suffer, the symbiotic monstrosities of imperialism and capitalism, the ramifications of white patriarchy, the predictable yet apparently unavoidable rise of fascism, the destruction of our ecosystems, the liberation of our colonized and indigenous comrades forever kicked down the road. These atrocities were a fundamental quality of any period of time we could return to, especially if the period in question is the two-term debacle of Barack Obama’s presidency.
The idea that we heal is an absurdity. And in the disgusting way it is referred to by President-elect Biden, it actually refers to a coming together with the Republican Party, an openly fascist, racist, misogynist, corporatist, anti-human death cult masquerading under “traditional” (read: Christian and white nationalist) values and a definition of fiscal conservatism completely divorced from reality. (If you think the amounts this nation spends on the military is in any form conservative, send me a greeting card from Bizarro World, you absolute dickhead.) What kind of government seeks to find middle ground with such an entity? Well, one that exists on the bipartisan foundation of systemic racism and unfettered capitalism. The kind we’ve simply always had.
Reject calls for healing with force. Demand no less than comprehensive transformation. Demand a government that sees your struggle and centers it in its agenda, a government that makes ending the suffering of the most vulnerable its core endeavor. The United States has for too long functioned as a machine of oppression, a catastrophic marriage of symbolic change and substantive suffering. A brutal, rumbling engine powered by exploitation for profit.
The power it wields is undeniable. If the United States doesn’t completely diverge from its current trajectory, instability will amplify, inequality will increase, and the can of human progress will be kicked until we simply run out of road — on the horizon looms ecological disaster and poorly understood implications of an unchecked emergent ruling class built upon the control of information. It’s not hard to imagine that attempts to maintain a stable norm on the fundamentally conflict-generating foundation of end-stage capitalism will fail anyways.
We’re going to transform one way or another. If the people don’t ensure we’re the ones driving this process, liberation will be out of reach forever and the story of the human race will be a tragedy of unmet potential. Ask yourself hard questions about what you’re willing to do to make sure this goes well for us. And when the government invites you to a return to normal, tell it to go (un)fuck itself.