The thing that scares me the most about some of the far leftists that I run into lately is their disdain for democracy. Spend any time on Twitter and you’ll run across angry users reminding people again and again that elections are meaningless, that there is no difference between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden because something something corporatist, and that the only thing that will truly bring real change is a peasant revolt against capitalism.
I’m not going to argue why most of these points are stupid because Natalie Wynn (ContraPoints) and Vaush Yorhanz have already done that adequately. Instead, I want address what seems to be the main problem with the leftist revolution: it has no plan for what to do with the 60 million (at least) Trump supporters in America.
You can see this every time Nancy Pelosi reaches across the aisle or Joe Biden says he is considering Republicans for his cabinet (inter-party cabinets were the norm until very recently). Any compromise is seen immediately as capitulation and collaboration with an enemy and further proof that Democrats are simply better Republicans. I understand that feeling. I really do. The Republican Party has maliciously used the illusion of bipartisanship and good governance in order to shift the country far to the right. There is no reason to trust them.
However… Sixty. Million. Trump voters.
They exist, and they actually have the same rights to representation as the rest of us. They must be considered at some point.
This isn’t awesome, obviously. Just because something is a necessary evil is no reason to label it good. The left should do everything in its power to tilt the balance of power back into their favor, including adding Washington D.C. as a state for two more Democratic senators and packing the courts to re-balance after blatant seat stealing from the right. Some ruthlessness is called for because “They Go Low, We Go High” has not worked.
On the other hand, there has to be some consideration for this enormous chunk of America. Do we really think that keeping them as a permanently voiceless underclass will be moral, let alone even work in the first place? Do leftists plan to just never lose an election, or is there some other way that conservatives will be permanently disempowered? Do we do away with democracy and try to institute a state that runs on the scientific consensus of the elite? Because that idea is ball-retractingly terrifying.
One of my favorite scenes in all of television history is from Doctor Who’s Series 8 adventure “The Zygon Inversion.” In it, The Doctor is trying to stop a war between shapeshifting aliens on Earth and the government agencies that know they exist. I’m going to embed it below, but here is the relevant text as well.
The Doctor: When you've killed all the bad guys, and it's all perfect and just and fair, when you have finally got it exactly the way you want it, what are you going to do with the people like you? The troublemakers. How are you going to protect your glorious revolution from the next one?
Zygon: We'll win.
The Doctor: Oh, will you? Well maybe — maybe you will win. But nobody wins for long. The wheel just keeps turning.
This is what a lot of leftists simply do not get. It’s the basic fact of politics that they can’t or refuse to grasp. Vile as it is to make deals with people who spend every waking hour working to discriminate, marginalize, and screw over all but a handful of Americans, it still has to be done. There is no scenario where the left wins forever and gets to be in charge until the end of time. Topple the government and make Bernie Sanders a socialist king, and there will still be 60 million Americans who will not stand by and let that happen unchallenged.
Unless you commit to a Reign of Terror like the French did after their Revolution or mass exile as we did after ours, these people are going to remain. Do we disarm, disenfranchise, and deny speech to them in order to maintain our utopia? Is that the world we want to call better?
I promise you that most Democratic leadership would rather toss their opponents across the aisle through a third story window that sit down with them. They do it because they have to. They don’t do it because Mitch McConnell has anything worthwhile to say (he absolutely does not). It’s because he is the nominal representative of nearly half the country. Relationships must happen because it is the only thing that keeps mass violence off the table. We are free to complain about it, but we have to acknowledge the rights of others to participate in self-governance no matter how crappy their ideas are.
To quote one more time from that Doctor Who clip, “How much blood will spill until everybody does what they're always going to have to do from the very beginning — sit down and talk!” Stack the deck as much as we can against the Republicans, sure. They’ve earned that for a generation or more with their bad faith arguments and relentless march toward fascism.
But they must still sit at the table. They must still be heard, even if everything they say is monstrous. The millions of people they represent have to be a part of the system if there is to be any system at all. It’s awful, and it actively makes trying to improve the world a more difficult task, but it will always be better than the alternative. If a dam does not let some water through, it will eventually collapse. The same is true with countries who pretend that large populations don't count.
And to Republicans reading this, this is the same reason why so much stuff is on literal fire right now.
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