The Left, The Right, & Political Ruthlessness | Alex David

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Today, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Yesterday, at the confirmation hearing for Ben Carson as the next secretary for Housing and Urban Development, all democrats in present voted in favour of his appointment. These two events seem unrelated, but they both go to show that the right have a tenacity and ruthlessness that is seriously lacking in the left-wing, and is something that we in the left can learn from. Any effective radicalism today is not to be found in anti-fascist movements or socialist parties, but found in the right-wing establishment.

Let's be clear here: the border wall is absurd. It is a child's solution to the vastly complex issue of illegal immigration. For Trump's entire campaign, no one but his core support base believed that anyone actually would be able, or even willing, to build a 3,201 kilometre wall. The sheer engineering power required is phenomenal; the impossibility extends to even the availability of raw materials and human labour (ironically, more than likely migrant labour) for such a project. But just four days into his presidency, Trump has signed the wall into being with an executive order. No worries about getting a bill passed - with one stroke of a pen, the creation of a US-Mexico border wall is enshrined into American law. The sheer bravado behind this radical act is staggering - it's impossible to imagine during the Obama presidency an executive order forcing through universal healthcare, or equal marriage rights. Where the Democrats are held back by their respect for the democratic process, the Republicans steam through it, gerrymandering voting districts & filibustering bills they disagree with. As horrific as the outcomes often are, the drive to succeed politically is something the establishment left must re-learn.

Ben Carson's confirmation hearing is further proof of this. Ben Carson is almost hilariously incompetent. He has not only never been involved in anything to do with housing, but has never held public office in any capacity. The man earnestly believes that Joseph (of Technicolour Dreamcoat fame) build the pyramids as grain silos. Yet not one, not one, of the Democratic Senators in this hearing opposed his appointment. Even Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown, often presented as the face of the progressive left voted in favour of Carson. After the hearing, Warren & Brown defended their support of Carson in that he had  'promised' to uphold LGBT housing rights, and that in some capacity they would monitor him. Others made the argument that a 'no' vote would have accomplished nothing, and Carson would've been appointed regardless. This is probably true. But if so, why not vote no morally? Why not vote no because it's the right thing to do, regardless of whether or not it has any effect? Vote no, and show at least some opposition. Show your voters that you actually care about these issues. Liberal political parties are obsessed with 'bad optics' - that is to say, how parties & figures are negatively perceived. Though the Trump phenomenon proves that this perhaps needn't be an issue, but even so - why show voters your hopelessness? Fight your opposition on every issue. Force a debate. Do something.

We are here faced with two problems - a right, unashamed of political ruthlessness, and a left, too cowardly to pose any serious opposition, even, in the case of the Obama administration, when in power. We see this clearly in the United Kingdom with a right-wing government that sees its proposals zoom through Parliament without any serious opposition from any side. A government that, regardless of whether you were pro- or anti- Brexit, has no clear & viable plan for leaving the European Union & dealing with the consequences it entails. I come at this debate not as a lefty, card-carrying member of the Labour Party, but as a believer in parliamentary democracy and checks and balances. If the government gets a free pass on such crucial issues as the ongoing NHS crisis, something surely nonpartisan & essential to the health of every citizen in the country, then what's the point? Often Corbyn's Labour Party make 'demands' of the government, but based on what? The left has no bargaining chips - who are we to demand anything of anybody? The crushing thing is that the support for left-wing policy is already there; just look at the record-breaking Women's March for evidence. The issue is that this does not translate into anything meaningful in term of policy because our leaders are so ineffective. For the left to succeed, our focus on 'nice' politics has to end. Politics isn't nice, and neither is our opposition. Our fluffy, woollen student politics have to stop.

The Left, The Right, & Political Ruthlessness | Alex David The Left, The Right, & Political Ruthlessness | Alex David Reviewed by Student Voices on 18:49 Rating: 5

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