On the town hall discussion, specifically on the point of Fox News audiences being more receptive to leftist programs than conventional wisdom would lead you to believe, I think the recent presidential elections in Brazil were a pretty good expression of how that’s true, and that won’t save us. (I’m Brazilian, to be clear)
One thing about the Brazilian political system that’s different from the American is that there’s a ton of relatively viable parties. There’s like ten different parties who have elected governors last election cycle, probably more than twenty who have at least one congressperson, etc. However, since the mid-90s or so, the presidential elections had stabilized around two parties: the Workers’ Party (PT), originally a borderline revolution-minded party that gradually shifted towards around Sanders’ place in the spectrum, and the Brazilian Party of Social Democracy (PSDB), which despite the name is more analogous to the more corporatist wing of the Republican party. PSDB won in 94 and 98 with PT finishing second, PT won in 02, 06, 10 and 14 with PSDB finishing second. With PT’s popularity on a brutal downswing coming into 18 (for reasons It would take too long to get into), lots of analysts were betting on a upcoming PSDB presidency.
Except PSDB got absolutely smoked in the elections. Like 4% of the vote. Its base was completely swallowed up by, you guessed It, Bolsonaro, the horrible piece of shit who ended up winning.
What that revealed to me, and what ties this back to the Sanders thing, is that very few people actually care for the economic ideology of the right. It’s not actually all that popular to say you should pay boatloads of money for your healthcare or die in the streets, no matter how many coats of “freedom vs spooky socialism” these parties try to put over it. That gets you 4%. That makes you PSDB last election, or Jeb Bush. The rest of the electorate, the one that got PSDB its relevance, the one that elected Jeb Bush’s family, is in it for the racism, for the xenophobia, for the homophobia, for the misogyny. If not explicitly, in the ways these are commonly coded: “welfare queens”, “stealing our jobs”, etc. They will gladly jump ship from the good-mannered corporate suit party insider type, who they often despise anyway, to the perceived outsider who says the quiet part loud. That’s Bolsonaro and that’s Trump.
I guess my point with all this oversharing is that we should be careful getting too excited about the prospects of simply showing committed Republican voters how much sense this different set of economic policies makes for them. The tricky part is to create a class consciousness that can get people on board with the antiracist stuff, with abolishing ICE, etc. We can’t put our relatively meager power to a weak formulation of our principles that can be easily coopted by the right as its new fascist way forward.
PS: Spider-Verse was probably my favorite American animated film of the last 15 years. It rules.