We have arrived at a strange moment for the left. In the most basic sense, the world we want—a social order built on racial and gender equality, in which the needs of human beings are privileged over profit (or something like that)—is further off than ever. The Trump administration and the Republican majority will seek to defang the labor movement, destroy the welfare state, accelerate deportation and mass incarceration, empower police and prosecutors, undermine environmental protections, rollback civil rights, start wars, and criminalize our means of fighting back. Much of this is already underway.
At the same time, there have perhaps never been more people banging on the walls of our clubhouses, demanding to be let in. It is the left’s first responsibility to fling open the doors. And when we do, we’ll need to avoid the traps of insularity, purism, and fragmentation that have undermined our efforts in the past. We’ll have to meet these new allies, as Smucker says, “where they are, with the language they use, in the spaces they frequent.”