Alfred Hitchcock once said that a film is as good as its villain—does this mean that the forthcoming U.S. elections will be good since the “bad guy” (Donald Trump) is an almost ideal villain? Yes, but in a very problematic sense. For the liberal majority, the 2016 elections represent a clear-cut choice: the figure of Trump is a ridiculous excess, vulgar and exploiting our worst racist and sexist prejudices, a male chauvinist so lacking in decency so that even Republican big names are abandoning him in droves. If Trump remains the Republican candidate, we will get a true “feelgood election”—in spite of all our problems and petty squabbles, when there is a real threat we can all come together in defence of our basic democratic values, like France did after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January 2015.
But this cosy democratic consensus is not healthy for politics and the Left. We need to take a step back and turn the gaze on ourselves: what is the exact nature of this all-embracing democratic unity? Everybody is in there, from Wall Street to Bernie Sanders supporters to what remains of the Occupy movement, from big business to trade unions, from army veterans to LGBT+, from ecologists horrified by Trump’s denial of global warming and feminists delighted by the prospect of the first woman-president, to the “decent” Republican establishment figures terrified by Trump’s inconsistencies and irresponsible “demagogic” proposals.
But what disappears in this apparently all-embracing conglomerate?
[Extract. Appeared in Newsweek on August 12th, 2016.]