Posts Tagged ‘Trumpism’

There really is a vast right-wing conspiracy

October 25, 2021

There is a possibility of an anti-democratic right-wing coup in the United States.  There really is.  Here’s how it might work.

You have another close Presidential election, like the ones in 2016 and 2020.  The balance of the electoral vote is in a few key states with Republican majorities in the state legislatures.

Those Republicans invoke Section II, Article 1, of the Constitution, which says: “Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature shall direct, a number of electors… …”

This is interpreted to mean that the state legislatures have the power to set aside election results, disregarding their own state laws and their governors.

Competing slates of electors go to Washington (this happened once before, in 1876).  

Another Constitutional question arises.  Who decides which electors are legitimate?  The Vice-President, whose duty is to certify the Electoral Collage vote?  The House of Representatives, whose duty is to pick a winner when no candidate has a majority?  Congress as a whole?  The Supreme Court?

There is mass protest, in Washington (as happened in 2020) and the state capitols (as was feared, but didn’t happen).  A President is inaugurated, but tens of millions of Americans believe the government is illegitimate.  Martial law is declared.  A low-level civil war begins.

I do not predict this will happen in 2024, but I do believe a constitutional crisis is inevitable if things go on as they are.  The moments of maximum danger will be during a future crises—an economic crash, defeat in a major war or failure to cope with disasters and plagues.

The economic historian Adam Tooze pointed out in his latest book that a constitutional crisis was avoided in 2020 only because all the forces of the American establishment were dead set against Donald Trump.  This includes the military, the intelligence community, the Supreme Court, big business and the press.

All of them regarded Trump as dangerously unpredictable, and Joe Biden as a safe choice.  But he said the balance of forces might have been different if the incumbent had been, say, Jeb Bush and the narrow victor had been, say, Bernie Sanders. 

Political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. had a good discussion of this with Paul Jay on Jay’s podcast, based on an article Reed wrote for Nonsite.org.

Reed pointed out that Republicans are numerically the minority party in the USA, but they hold on to power partly by the peculiarities of the U.S. electoral system, but also by using their power in state legislatures to gerrymander legislative and congressional districts, and to restrict or discourage voting by Democratic blocs.

Reed said a large number of right-wing Republicans believe that no real American could have voted for Biden, and so the only way Biden could have voted is for the Democrats to have colluded with those who are not real Americans.

There are armed right-wing fanatics who say they are prepared for civil war.  Some of them the black flag of “no quarter,” meaning they intend to kill their enemies without mercy, along with the American flag.  

I don’t think there are a lot of them—far fewer, in fact, than turned out for the Black Lives Matter protests.  But it doesn’t take many to start something that will create an excuse for martial law.

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Trumpism and the revolt of rural America

December 22, 2020

My city neighborhood is full of Black Lives Matter signs.  But if I were to drive 20 or 30 miles beyond the city, I would soon see I was in Trump country.

A blogger named Crispin Sartwell sees Trumpism as a rural identity politics movement, like black nationalism and gay pride.

In these decades I’ve seen rural America sag severely: small manufacturers disappearing; farms foreclosed or folded into much bigger operations; small-town downtowns shuttered; kids living the song and leaving as soon as they can; schools and churches becoming abandoned buildings; waves of meth and opiates.

For decades, there seemed to be an effortless but bizarre assumption, even in the sociological research into rural pathologies, that everyone wanted to live in a city and eventually would, more or less, as the economy somehow transformed from making concrete things to providing abstract services.

Rural Americans were living in a way that was over, and the question was how to assimilate them into the globalized information economy of the 21st century, or whatever Al Gore was on about.

But what are y’all going to do, abandon 93 percent of the country and eat information?  Country people are often derided for ignorance, but they often deride you for living in a realm of delusion.

There are some problems with Barack-Obama-style technocracy I’d like to point out.  Rural people have been approached, at best, pretty much the way Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Bill Clinton approached black people: How can we address your pathologies? Maybe if y’all went to college…

Trumpism appears out here as a rural pride movement.  Such a movement strikes me as justified, necessary in some form: a culture, a way or ways of life, and the connection of people with the physical landscape of America have been endangered, devalued, sneered at, and devastated.

Country and small-town America has similar reasons as black America or trans America to unite and resist. I’m surprised that it didn’t happen before.

But I wish it hadn’t been Trump. I wish the sense of rural pride that has arisen wasn’t tainted with white pride, that there could be a rural nationalism that wasn’t connected in any way to white nationalism, that people out here weren’t falling for lies.

Rural America needed an avatar, but that New York developer with his rattletrap demagoguery and his relentless narcissism was both an unlikely and extremely unfortunate selection.  But personae as compelling and mercurial and bold as Trump’s, and as willing to smash the stultifying rhetorical conventions of American technocracy, are rare.

One wonders whether the sense of rural identity could’ve arisen at all without a big dose of these dark sides, and one bad thing about the ironic embodiment of rural identity in Trump is that it tends to confirm everything that Harvard profs and Atlantic staff writers think about us: that we’re ignorant, easily manipulated, evil, and stupid.

On the other hand, everyone is sort of paying attention now; everyone is sort of realizing that country people have them surrounded, that driving in any direction from any big city in America gets you to Trump country really quick.

They’re talking again about fixing rural people, or beaming more diabolically effective propaganda into our homes to relieve us of our ignorance, or educating children out of their parents’ values, all of which is just going to piss people off and exacerbate the divide.

But what I dream of seeing is a rural politics and a representation of rural people in the corridors of power that proceeds by some sort of expansion rather than various forms of exclusion, that demands recognition and concrete steps to help rural communities but does not configure around racial identities.

Some progressives complain that they can’t enact their agenda because of the over-representation of Trump voters in the Electoral College and the Senate.  This is baked into the Constitution and virtually impossible to change anytime soon.

With the depopulation of rural areas and the concentration of wealth in certain big cities, this disparity can only grown.  So maybe progressives should try instead to seriously address the problems of rural America, which in many ways are like the problems of urban America.

LINK

Trumpism as a Rural Identity Movement by Crispin Sartwell for Splice Today. (Hat tip to Gene Zitver)

Clintonism, Trumpism: a win-win for the 1%

April 28, 2016

In American politics today, there are three main factions and only two parties to represent them.  One faction has to lose and, if Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are nominated, it will be the Bernie Sanders progressives.

fatcatHillary Clinton represents the Washington and Wall Street elite, committed to perpetual war and crony capitalism.  Wall Street bankers have made her and her husband rich, neoconservative war hawks praise her and Charles Koch has said she may be preferable to either of the possible GOP nominees she may be preferable to either of the possible GOP nominees.

Donald Trump speaks to the concerns of working people—especially pro-corporate trade deals and deindustrialization—but he has no real solution.

His economic nationalism, while not a complete answer to U.S. economic problems, is preferable to the corporate trade deals of the Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

But by pitting white working men against Hispanics, blacks, immigrants and feminists, he prevents the working class as a whole from ever having enough clout to defend their interests.

Thomas Frank wrote an excellent book about how the Republicans may be the party of the wealthy elite, representing the upper 1 percent of American income earners, but the Democrats are the party of the educated professional elite, representing the rest of the upper 10 percent.

This year’s political realignment may change this, as he himself implicitly acknowledged in a new article in Vanity Fair.  Under Hillary Clinton, Democrats are becoming the party of the upper 1 percent as well.  Here is the meat of what Frank wrote.

Rich Americans still have it pretty good. I don’t mean everything’s perfect: business regulations can be burdensome; Manhattan zoning can prevent the addition of a town-house floor; estate taxes kick in at over $5 million.   But life is acceptable. Barack Obama has not imposed much hardship, and neither will Hillary Clinton.

And what about Donald Trump?  Will rich people suffer if he is elected president?  Well, yes.  Yes, they will.  Because we all will.  But that’s a pat answer, because Trump and Trumpism are different things.  Trump is an erratic candidate who brings chaos to everything.  Trumpism, on the other hand, is the doctrine of a different Republican Party, one that would cater not to the donor class, but rather to the white working class.  Rich people do not like that idea.

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