8 Thoughts on Election 2016 in the "World's Greatest Democracy"(tm)

Don’t just mourn, organize! We need solidarity and hope, not despair. Here’s why:


1. Clinton won the popular vote

Once again, the winner of the popular vote will not be the next president, because the electoral college, a concession to give more power to slave-owning states at the time the constitution was drafted, is still how the USA chooses its highest office.

2. Only about 1/4 of eligible voters voted for Trump

There were approximately 230 million eligible voters in this election. Trump only got 59.7 million votes. So we’re really talking about just over 1/4 of eligible voters actually voted for Trump. The USA isn’t a vast wasteland of hopelessly right-wing hate-filled monsters. The votes were incredibly close in many “swing” states. The whole “red state” vs. “blue state” narrative is totally flawed.

3. Voter disenfranchisement is real and on-going

Voter turnout in the “most important election in our lifetime” was down from the last 2. All sorts of new voting restrictions were in place for the first time this election. 2 million people can’t vote because they were once convicted of a felony. It’s entirely plausible that the net effect of various disenfranchisement schemes enacted by state and local governments was to narrowly tip the balance for Trump in the small handful of states that actually determined the outcome.

4. Not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist/misogynist pig

Although many of that minority of citizens that actually voted for Trump resonate with his hate-filled, misogynistic, xenophobic rhetoric, not all of them support him on that basis. Many have been seeing their living standards decline for 8+ years of a Democrat in the White House, most of that time supposedly during an economic “recovery.” They couldn’t stand to vote for 4 more years of the same miserable status quo. They bought the argument (even though it’s a lie) that Trump stands for something different and is an outsider that wants to try to improve their lives in some way. When stuck between two “choices” that are both obviously lying about a huge number of things, I can see why some people decided to reject the status quo, even if their main way to express that was to vote for this disgusting man. Approximately half of Trump's votes were from women and people of color. Certainly some of the 53% of eligible white women voters that picked Trump harbor racist and xenophobic ideas, and some of the men of color that voted for him might hold sexist ideas, but these are folks with contradictory and mixed consciousness, not the KKK-loving sexist white men that we're led to believe were the only people voting for the GOP ticket.

5. The USA makes voting hard and inconsistent

Why are all the laws and procedures related to voting decided case-by-case in different states? Why aren’t there federal laws determining eligibility to vote, ensuring a consistent process, accountability, etc? Why is voting day in the middle of the work week instead of being a national holiday? Why is it so hard for people to vote if it’s supposedly our “most sacred right” and the cornerstone of our “democracy”? Why did so many people (like me) show up to vote at the location printed on our election materials only to find a sign saying our voting place was closed and the new location was elsewhere? Why did my official voter registration "Don't forget to vote!" postcard arrive in the mail on the Thursday after the election?

6. The Democratic Party will not champion basic democratic rights

Hillary Clinton will not go to bat for all the people who were disenfranchised in this election. Al Gore didn’t do it when Bush stole the presidency, and HRC isn’t going to now. I haven’t seen any noise about this from Bernie Sanders, either. They’re all too busy reminding us: “Now, everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage.” That’s a direct quote from Obama printed in a Washington Post article this morning. The champions of the so-called “Democratic” party aren’t going to raise the point that this racist pig who bragged about sexually assaulting women won (in part) because so many people faced insurmountable obstacles to voting. The Democrats are not going to spend any time, energy or political capital trying to change the sick electoral system we have. They’d rather have folks like Bush and Trump being president than address the fundamental rot at all levels of our government. Are the “Democrats” ever going to mount a serious campaign to undo the Electoral College? Are they going to restore voting rights for felons? Are they going to remove restrictions like voter ID laws and other barriers to letting people vote? Don’t hold your breath.

7. The Democrats will draw all the wrong lessons from this defeat

The Democratic Party is going to draw all the wrong lessons from this election (just as they have for the past few). They’re going to think they didn’t do enough to appeal to “swing voters”, "moderates", etc. The real problem is they didn’t give anyone anything to vote for. Obama at least made some hollow promises he had little or no intention of keeping. HRC didn’t even bother to make hollow promises. Her early campaign was focused on lowering the expectations of Sanders supporters, preaching to those who wanted something else from their elected leaders that they had to be “realistic”. Her later campaign was almost exclusively “at least I’m not Trump!”. Sorry, Clinton, that’s not enough to get people to show up and vote for you. Many people simply aren’t excited about voting for more pro-war, neoliberal candidates that are obviously and thoroughly in the pocket of Wall St and giant corporate interests. This was HRC’s election to lose, and somehow, she managed to lose it.

Stand and resist

8. Stand and resist!

We can’t flee the country. The actions of the US government are felt around the world. There’s no place to go where this monstrous government won’t affect you. Furthermore, we can’t abandon the people who can’t just leave to try to fight on their own. The people who are repulsed by Trump are actually the majority. We just don’t have a way to express that. Many of us are afraid, depressed, hopeless. It's right to be sad, angry, disgusted, even scared. But don’t just mourn, organize! We need solidarity and hope, not despair. We can’t wait 4, or even 2 years, to start resisting the new administration. Trying to “reclaim congress” in 2018 and “take back the White House" in 2020 are both going to be failed strategies for resisting what President Trump wants to accomplish. First of all, we simply can’t wait that long to try to stop what’s coming. Moreover, the way to stop it isn’t going to be trying to get our “friends in the Democratic Party” elected. They’ve proven time and again they’re more interested in bi-partisanship and a shared commitment to Wall St. and the Pentagon than they are interested in actually challenging the GOP and their agenda. We need to come together in our communities, schools, workplaces, and in our streets, to resist what has already started and what else is on the way. We have to get together, figure out where we have the most social power, and wield it consciously for the benefit of all. The whole “2 party” system is set up to limit the debate in this country and to lower our sights and expectations. This isn’t going to be an easy period in this country (or the world). But putting our hopes in an utterly bankrupt and failed “2 party" system is only going to keep holding us back. We need to think outside the prison of the Democratic Party. No, President Obama — this isn’t an intramural scrimmage. This is a life-or-death struggle. And if y’all are all really on 1 team (which is what I've been saying for over 20 years), then our side (the vast majority of the world’s population) needs another, entirely different, team.


Multi-instrumentalist: oud, saz, Brazilian percussion (maracatú, other rhythms from Pernambuco, various forms of samba), body music, bass, Middle Eastern percussion, and more. 10 years studying North Indian classical music on the oud and voice interwoven with 15 years studying Brazilian music and dance (including 5 trips to Brazil for a total of 1 year of training) have given Derek a unique approach to music, rhythm, dance accompaniment, improvisation, movement, teaching, and life.

Derek is available for performances, dance collaborations, recording sessions, teaching, licensing, live accompaniment (films, plays, classes, etc), acting, and many other creative possibilities. He is also a certified practitioner and instructor of BREEMA (a bodywork method bringing body and mind together in harmony) and incorporates embodied mindfulness into his teaching and playing.