by Evan Zilber ‘22
Drawn by Evan Zilber ’22
The pro-Trump riot at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021 signifies a turning point in the political inclinations of America’s populace – a turning point centered around class frustrations.
Despite this, many Americans mistakenly believe that class does not factor into today’s social unrest. This is due to a dogmatic adherence by both liberals and conservatives to an establishment party-line.
The conservative perspective states that the Capitol riot was inevitable because Democrats welcomed left-wing violence last summer, while the liberal stance argues that the causes for Black Lives Matter protests are fundamentally incomparable to Donald Trump’s agenda, which claimed the 2020 election “stolen.”
Both claims have merits and faults, but neither delve into what actually motivated the historic magnitude of recent political protest.
BLM didn’t gain traction through corporate-friendly truisms, and Donald Trump’s rhetoric didn’t gain traction through any amount of substantiation (evidently so, as Oregon, a state that has cast over 100 million mail-in ballots since 2000, saw fraudulent ballots in “0.00001 percent of all votes cast,” according to the Brennan Center of Justice).
Rather, both the killing of George Floyd and Trump’s incendiary rhetoric simply impelled action based on an already existent, bipartisan sentiment. This broadly populist, anti-establishment sentiment was underlied by the discrepant condition between rich and poor; a discrepancy fomented throughout 2020, when American lives and livelihoods were forsaken so as to preserve the status of American capital.
Despite the nominal incentives for each movement, then, frustration stemming from class issues is the true catalyst for 2020 and 2021’s unprecedented political protest. The working class substrate of Trump’s constituency and of BLM supporters have lost hope in institutions which have failed to bestow unto their citizens a means to life, liberty, and happiness.
It is the natural reaction of subjugated people to react against the system responsible for their subjugation. And in a country supposedly devoted to the freedom of her people, a forceful, majoritarian reaction has the potential to be righteous.
Working class Democrats and Republicans have similar economic needs, so organizing as a class collective could yield benefit to both peoples. America’s broad working class has unfortunately been divided by the schism of shallow political partisanship, though, and infighting ensued among potential comrades.
“Unity” is a cliche desire proposed by many establishment politicians today; yet America’s political establishment owes its existence to the very fact that her workers are not united.