As I have often remarked, I am a Tigger in a world of Eeyores, a fact that is, in the words of W. S. Gilbert, a “source of innocent merriment” for my friends. Alas, Tigger has of late been hiding in his den, fearful of showing his face lest he suffer public ridicule. In the past two days, as some of you are no doubt aware, the Republican majority in the North Carolina State Legislature, its collective nose out of joint as the President-Elect siphons off the calumny that it feels is rightfully theirs, have taken steps to strip the Governorship of all its powers before a Democrat, Roy Cooper, is sworn in to that office. Ashamed to show their faces while they engage in this act of blatant theft, the legislators have barred the press from the hurry-up special session they called [they cannot actually keep what they are doing secret – they are enacting laws, after all]. I am ashamed to admit that Tigger, a soul of indefeasible cheerfulness though he is, thought seriously of taking a baseball bat and going down to the State Capitol to beat them senseless.
These are hard times for the few remaining Tiggers. The president-elect seems intent upon filling each cabinet office with the person in America who is most unalterably opposed to the functions of the government office he [or in startlingly few cases, she] is designated to lead. In what can only be judged a beau geste, he has even tapped one feckless person to head a department that he famously could not even recall the name of. I think Trump will go down in history as a fascist with a sense of humor, something for which neither Hitler nor Mussolini was noted. Inexorably, I have felt the long ears and doleful countenance of Eeyore descending upon me.
But then, a thought occurred to me, and as it did, Tigger stuck his nose out, sniffed the air, and felt irrepressible hope beginning to stir deep in his breast. As I reflected on the actions of the Carolina Legislators, the thought came unbidden to my mind, “They are desperate! These are not the actions of a triumphant conquering army. They are the scorched earth tactics of those retreating in disarray.”
As I walked in the twenty degree weather [-6.666 Celsius, for S. Wallerstein], I began to run down the list of the truly horrible things the Republicans have done or are now proposing to do. The rampant voter suppression laws are the desperation moves of a party that knows it can no longer count on winning an honest election. The attack on the rights of LGBT Americans is a lost cause, both legally and in the court of public opinion. Two generations of women have grown up in an America that legally guarantees the right of an abortion. The appalling state laws being passed and re-passed will do hideous harm to millions of women, but they will fail to reverse the established fact that abortion is legal. Not even the appointment of another Scalia will accomplish what the original Scalia could not. The demand for a raise of the minimum wage, which was not even on the public agenda until this election, now commands almost majority popular support.
The fact is that even after nominating the most unpopular candidate ever to be put forward by the Democrats, they still won three million more votes than their opponent. [The one good thing to come from this appalling election is that I never have to think about a Clinton again.] Demography is destiny, as someone should have said, and demography ineluctably favors the progressive forces in America. White Privilege may fuel an intensity that burns with white heat, but in a few more electoral cycles, a party built on that passion will have all the salience of a party of farmers, once the backbone of America.
Let us be clear. Terrible harm will be done by the Republicans as they struggle desperately to hold off their inevitable demise. Tens of millions of men, women, and children will be grievously hurt, and many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of them will die because of what the Republicans are doing. Only if we are strong and fight with unyielding determination will we win, but we will win.
What of the last and greatest battle, the battle against capitalism itself? Here, alas, Eeyore reemerges triumphant. We are not losing that battle. We lost it almost a century ago. It is now only a few days before the centennial of my grandfather’s election to the New York Board of Alderman on the Socialist ticket, together with six comrades [the “seven honest men,” they were called.] Those were the glory days of the Socialist movement in America. Now “collective ownership of the means of production” is a phrase never uttered even by a presidential aspirant who bills himself a “Democratic Socialist.” Like Lord Voldemort, he who shall not be named, Marx lurks in the dark corners of American politics, unable to be acknowledged even as an enemy. When a scholar can win universal acclaim with a book entitled “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” and without apparent irony never mention the name of Marx, we are forced to admit that true socialism is a bridge too far even for American progressives.
And so, my friends, on this darkest day in modern North Carolina history, I reassume my mantle as the Tigger of the Left. Dangerous as this moment is, terrible as the consequences will be of the actions of the Republicans, we can win, we must win, we will win, if we do not lose faith and never cease to fight.