Coming out of the sewers for Trump?

November 8, 2016

With Election 2016 finally lurching to an end, writers collaborate on a guide to what to look for on Election Day and in the days to come. Here, Danny Katch explains that the left faces a problem to be confronted beyond what happens today.

This evening, be sure to follow SW's live coverage as the results roll in during Election Night, at our Facebook page or on the Election Night journal.

AS IF the final weeks of this election haven't been miserable enough, the media were filled last week with reports that neo-Nazis were "sending an army of Alt-Right nationalists to watch the polls."

The claims were made by neo-Nazi Internet trolls--who also vowed to plant hidden cameras in Black neighborhoods to catch "vote fraud" and distribute drugs and alcohol to dissuade people from voting--and probably weren't worth the free publicity given to them by mainstream media outlets.

More ominous was the call by the Oath Keepers, a shadowy group that recruits current and former cops and soldiers for "Operation Sabot 2016" to "form up incognito intelligence gathering and crime spotting look for and document suspected criminal vote fraud or intimidation activities."

As the Southern Poverty Law Center noted:

The Oath Keepers are well known for showing up heavily armed in instances of social crisis...Coming at a time of increasing racial tensions, likely armed, mostly white men secretly patrolling voting stations looking for "suspicious" activity is incredibly worrisome.

Trump supporters at a campaign rally
Trump supporters at a campaign rally

It's not certain that far-right groups will do anything significant today, but we shouldn't rule out the possibility of plots like the one by three members of the Kansas Security Force militia, who intended to bomb a Kansas mosque and housing complex following Election Day.

In a country with a regular string of mass shootings and widespread anger fueled by Donald Trump and his allegations that the election is rigged, it wouldn't be shocking for there to be Election Day violence of a more spontaneous nature.

TRUMP ISN'T a fascist, and that's not a minor technical point. If you want to picture Trump as an actual fascist, look at real 2016 fascist parties like Greece's Golden Dawn and Hungary's Jobbik, and then imagine Trump not just retweeting nasty memes, but being actively connected to far-right militias or organized gangs of thugs attacking leftists and immigrants in the streets on a widespread basis.

So the Trump campaign isn't the public face of a rising fascist movement--but it is certainly giving the far right a major opening. "Trump has shown that our message is healthy, normal and organic," one white nationalist leader told the New York Times, using bizarrely crunchy vocabulary for a racist hatemonger.

Racist violence and harassment, whether or not it's driven by organized groups, is already on the rise. The past two years have seen a dramatic rise in hate crimes against Muslims, and the month before the election witnessed a spate of anti-Black incidents in Mississippi--including an African American church that was set on fire and spray-painted with the words "Vote Trump."

Whatever happens today at the polls and outside the polling stations, the left will have to figure out how to mobilize against the threat of a growing far right. As Dorian Bon wrote for

[T]he right wing can't be shrugged off as insignificant, and protesting against it shouldn't be dismissed as giving the right the attention it craves. The vile ideas of figures like Trump, just like the more developed reactionary filth of openly fascist parties, have to be named and confronted...

Equally important, the right wing's politics of despair and scapegoating have to be countered with a positive alternative--one that stands for justice and democracy, in contrast to the prejudices of the right. This is why building social movements against all the oppressions and injustices faced by ordinary people is important--not only for winning change on particular issues, but in challenging the success of the right wing that tries to exploit these conditions.

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