At the risk of indulging in well-worn cliches that are trotted out every four years, the current U.S. Presidential election cycle has exposed many fissures in American society and brought to light many sentiments that are hidden away and kept out of the public eye for the most part.
The Hillary Clinton campaign has energized no one other than Beltway neocons, Wall Street, the mainstream media, the foreign policy establishment, the Israel lobby, big-money Democratic donors and the DNC. In other words, her base.
The Bernie Sanders campaign had energized progressives and radicals of all ages (including even many who call themselves Marxist, socialist or anarchist), the liberal wing of the Democratic Party (particularly those under 35) and even a few economic populists and foreign policy "isolationists" who are normally considered to be on the right (the latter in the wake of Tulsi Gabbard's endorsement of his campaign).
The Trump campaign, however, has managed to galvanize at least two or three separate and disparate segments of U.S. society and for totally different reasons. First we have working class and middle class whites who are drawn to his populist economic message and who, let's face it, like the fact that his campaign has afforded them a "safe space" to hear and say things that they otherwise would not be able to hear and say in such a straightforward way. And yes, I'm talking about open expressions of bigotry directed chiefly at Latinos and Muslims and, to a lesser, and still coded, extent, Black people.
And it's this aspect of his campaign that has galvanized two other segments of the population that had come out into the streets to disrupt and attack his rallies. The first segment consists of progressive Bernie backers and more radical socialists and anarchists of all stripes, and the second consists of representatives of the communities that feel themselves to be in the bull's eye and to be directly targeted by the Trump campaign and its rhetoric.
While the people whom Trump has galvanized in opposition to him, particularly those who are taking to the streets and protesting and disrupting his rallies, are doing what needs to be done, and are doing so with the best of intentions, they are ultimately empowering forces that they don't necessarily want to, much less intend to, empower.
The first of these is the Trump campaign itself, and its base of support. Trump is a gadfly and a showman and is at his best when he's playing off foil, an adversary that hates him and is visible and vocal in expressing its disgust and disdain for him. His base already feels itself put upon and besieged by minorities of all stripes and by the forces of political correctness so to actually see them come out to his rallies, to see them shut down his rallies, rush the stage when he's speaking and so forth confirms all their beliefs and all their fears and will only harden their resolve.
The second force that the anti-Trump protest movement is empowering is the Hillary Clinton campaign. Let's face it, if Trump really represents the "new fascism" on American soil, if he really is Hitler and Mussolini rolled into one then, who in their right mind wouldn't support Hillary and, at the bare minimum, vote for her when the time comes?
If the protesters can't muster the same level of energy, determination and organization in order to oppose the Clinton campaign in the streets -- on her proven political record as a war criminal (Haiti, Honduras, Libya, Syria, Ukraine), on her record regarding mass incarceration and the criminalization of Black and brown men in the US specifically, on things she's actually done, not just what she's said... if that protest movement against Hillary doesn't materialize, and so far it shows no sign of doing so, then the anti-Trump protest movement effectively becomes, whether its participants and street organizers want it to be or not, a defacto wing of the Hillary campaign.
Personally, I think Trump's deliberately incendiary language ensures that the anger against him will continue to turn people out in opposition, and I also think that there's a lack of anything remotely resembling that kind of anger when it comes to Hillary.
Will MENA and South Asian people and immigrant Muslims, for example, who turned out to protest Trump in large numbers in both St. Louis and Chicago, turn out to protest Hillary in anykind of numbers? Especially when they're indifferent about her foreign policy when it comes to Latin America and the Caribbean, mostly support imprisoning Black and Latino men (and deporting the latter), and definitely support everything she's done (and will continue to do) with regards to Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran?
Personally, I think the protesters, and the left in general, are being played for fools by both camps.
Trump's bark is worse than his bite (assuming he wins the whole thing). He's not going to be dipping bullets in pig's blood, putting slices of bacon in every Qur'an in every bookstore and library across the country or banning Muslims from entering the country for two very simple reasons:
1 - Saudi Arabia owns a huge chunk of America, both when it comes to actual real estate and U.S. bonds.
2 - The Muslim immigrant community is a huge part of the financial infrastructure of the country.Much higher up on the socio-economic food chain, in general, than the vast majority of Trump supporters.
The worst he could do, on this front, is tear up the Iran deal (as he's already promised) and get his tongue surgically attached to Israel's tuchus. Both of which Hillary is far more likely to do.
And on the "illegal immigrant" front, if he tries really hard he might make life more difficult for them and deport more people than Obama has, but he'd have to try very hard to outdo the current commander in chief on that front. Life will be more precarious for those coming to the U.S. from points south. Wages, such as they are, will continue to stagnate. Paths to citizenship will be closed down. But we're talking about things that have been ongoing, and continuously getting worse, for decades now.
However, no border wall is going to go up, much less one paid for by Mexico. And "the illegals" arenot going to be shipped across the border en masse unless the US establishment has reached the stage where it doesn't care if entire sectors of the economy go down the drain, which it hasn't.
Yes, many of his supporters are disgusting and openly bigoted and racist, and he's no prince charming either. But he's not ushering in the Fourth Reich. The people who insist that he is have either been led astray, are leading others astray or are mistaking form (words) for function (deeds).
Look at all the promises Obama made to his progressive support base in 2008. How many of them did he actually follow through on? What about George W. Bush and his most loyal and faithful supporters, the Evangelical/Pentecostal Christan Right? How much of their agenda did Dubya ever put on the table in exchange for all that loyalty and support?
If Trump wins the whole thing one of two things are likely to happen: he might well turn out to be the most faithful servant of the actual power wielders in the country that we've seen in a while, for all his anti-establishment rhetoric. Remember that he's a showman when the spotlight is shining on him, but offstage he's a wheeler and dealer and people pleaser. But there's one other thing that could happen. He could turn out to be a total and complete incompetent boob, run the economy into the ground and turn off all major and minor U.S. allies, leaving the country more isolated and bankrupt (in every way) than it has been... well, ever.
Now tell the truth, or at least admit it yourself silently even if you can't bring yourself to actually say it. Would that really be such a bad thing, especially for the rest of the world? Even domestically, a Trump presidency has the actual potential to turn not just a few hundred or a few thousand people out into the streets, but hundreds of thousands, if not millions. His very presence in the White House will light the fire of militancy under the feet of countless people who have been, and would have continued to be, satisfied with the slow motion death of their country, and the rest of the world along with it. Again, is that a good thing or a bad thing?