What did Trump do right? That’s the only question that matters for progressives and liberals now. Donald Trump doesn’t care what any of his opponents think. He doesn’t use sanitised politispeak to discuss simple issues that affect real people. If he thinks someone is an idiot or an idea is stupid, he says it. He doesn’t pretend to have respect for people and organisations that actively work against his agenda. Whatever his ideas, however prejudiced and outrageous his policies, millions of voters believed he was real and despite his many, many lies, he was true to himself. How many liberal polticians can say the same?
Liberal ideas aren’t unpopular. Policies once considered left-wing have become normal: the minimum wage, union rights, access to contraception, parental leave, regulating big companies and banks, state-funded healthcare etc., etc. Trump’s campaign supported most of what was once called ‘the liberal agenda’. His pledge to bring jobs back to America, punish firms that use outsourcing and create jobs through infrastructure spending sounded more like Bernie Sanders than a Republican. Clinton was promising to go even further in this direction. A Clinton presidency would have benefitted exactly those voters who voted for Trump. But they just didn’t believe her. Liberals and moderates didn’t believe her either. She wasn’t genuine, she wasn’t dangerous to her opponents and she never angried up progressives’ blood.
Donald Trump is a bastard. He’s a swaggering, arrogant, dismissive bastard. And that’s what liberals need. We’ve had enough of the polished, prissy policy wonk – the John Kerry and Hillary Clinton who measure every word, never say what they really think and always make sure they have wiggle room to revise their position in case the political winds change. Liberals need somone who will call bullshit on Trump’s claims that Obama founded ISIS or when he denies he said climate change is a Chinese hoax. We need a liberal who isn’t afraid to call Mike Pence a bigot for supporting gay ‘conversion therapy’. We need a liberal who’ll call a spade a spade and a racist a racist. We need a bastard for progress.
The single most powerful speech of the 2016 US election came from Khizr Khan. Khan and his wife lost a son in Afghanistan. As a Muslim and an immigrant, Khan’s speech at the Democratic National Convention was powerfully honest. The moment he offered to lend Trump his constitution so the Republican candidate could actually read it will not soon be forgotten. If only Clinton could have delivered a speech half as good as Khizr Khan’s. Khan is not the bastard we need. The bastard we need must go further than he did. Our bastard for progress wil hammer Donald Trump with the US constitution not just verbally but with every campaign, every media appearance, every vote in Congress and every aspect of his or her character. Just as Trump is a bully to the core of his being, our liberal bastard must be the finest champion of the bullied.
Liberals and progressive should stop apologising for what they believe. Rights for women and minorities are not in the gift of a government – they must be protected from the government. Fighting the excesses of capitalism shouldn’t depend on trade-offs for big companies. Liberals know the market trumps nothing, least of al human welfare. Today’s liberals need to remind voters that the NHS the Tories claim they’re protecting was invented by liberals. It was progressives who took children out of the mines and put them in schools. It was progressives who helped unshackle women from the stove. And it’s those same liberal progressives who’ll have to pick up the pieces after Trump, after Brexit and after the last surge of bigots and voodoo economists get their chance to burn the whole thing down.
The protests against Donald Trump shouldn’t stop. The journalists calling out his lies shouldn’s stop. The comedians mocking his narcissism and hypocrisy shouldn’t stop. Our great liberal bastard is out there – a bastard for progress, a bastard for peace, a bastard for the 21st century.