JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE LOOMING PRESENCE OF TRUMPISM IN AMERICA   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

There can be little doubt that Donald Trump will contest the Republican Party’s nomination for president in 2024, and I think there can be little doubt that the nomination is his for the asking. Who else brings such a massive base of support to the party?  Tens of millions, brimming with enthusiasm.

As for the notion that two impeachments will stop him, that is just silly. In many people’s eyes, those rather lame efforts at impeachment only succeeded in diminishing the austere and rarified sense of the term. For his people, they only mean he beat the rap, twice.

If you note the statements of various Republicans who reportedly had set their sights on the same prize – Nikki Haley or Mike Pompeo – you will note a definite change in the tone of their rhetoric from the days around the “insurrection” in the Capitol, a low point for Trump. You observe the same change in tone of Republican figures who have no intention of running for president, notably Mitch McConnell, leader of the Senate’s Republicans.

Being a bastard in Washington is no disadvantage, so long as you are a successful bastard. That is a value of a militaristic society. After all, the military has always valued psychopaths and other “natural-born killers.” Look at some of the pardons Trump granted, to the most grotesque war criminals. There are many reasons to believe that not only will Trump return, but that he has a very good chance at being re-elected. This possibility hangs like a dark cloud over domestic politics as well as international affairs.

The international community was set back on its heels by four years of Trump’s crude brutality. There were very strong words quietly uttered, like America can no longer be depended upon, extraordinary words for an alliance going back three-quarters of a century. Its more intelligent leaders I’m sure recognize that the threat is not gone.

Joe Biden’s fatuous slogan, “America is back,” is recognized for what it is, a feel-good advertising slogan. It almost sounds like something for a breakfast cereal. It is wrong on two levels. First, on basic drives and policies – like American global supremacy – Biden represents no change but one of tone and civility, with a bit of embroidery around the edges in an effort to make threadbare goods look fresh.

Second, they have now seen, under Trump, an America many of them did not know existed, the America of Trump’s base, a huge segment of extremely unhappy and bellicose people. Even if Trump goes away, these demanding people remain. They add a strong element of instability and threat to what was once regarded as a settled social order.

And note, even before the next presidential election, mid-term Congressional elections could easily wipe away what little influence Biden has.

Trump’s people reflect many influences, but I think the greatest is one I’ve written about many times, the relative decline of America’s economy since the halcyon days of the 1950s. Many of these are people who do not understand and cannot accept the hard reality.

Having competition in anything makes a world of difference. In the 1950s, America had no competition in a war-flattened world. In 2020, it has lots of competition, very strong competition, with more coming along. The good jobs and incomes which once were treated by Americans as entitlements have of course migrated to the places doing great business.

Opportunities and resources shift with relative success. It represents no underhandedness, just the relentless fact of competition.

Americans, right down to the most modest workers, took that lucky and temporary situation of the postwar period as the way things were meant to be. America was just the best. God had especially blessed her. But that belief had no more substance than the many conflicting beliefs of various religions. It was comforting for the believers, but that is all. Beliefs don’t build cars or ships or create new technology or launch space craft.

Trump promised discontented Americans that he could do something for them, but, as in so many matters, he was wrong. Starting trade wars will not enrich American workers. But his people do not understand that he was wrong. They simply believe strongly that he was not given a chance to finish his work. It is a version of Hitler’s politically-effective “stab in the back” claim. So, they await his return or the coming of an equivalent figure.

There is more than a little of the Second Coming of Christ in these matters, the Lord returning to set things right for his people, which is why the irreligious Trump does stunts like pose for pictures with a Bible.

Trump’s people are not going away. They represent a genuine political force now in America. A very large one.

Joe Biden is proving even more ineffective than some believed he would be. Already he has broken promises for domestic policy. Notable ones, such as the kind of assistance people can expect from the COVID recovery efforts. In foreign affairs, he has made – with one or two exceptions, like renewing the New START Treaty with Russia – the same major errors as Trump. Aggression towards China, aggression towards Iran, aggression towards Russia, aggression towards Venezuela and Cuba and a number of other states. Support for 13th century princes and tyrants and war criminals, just so long as they serve America’s purposes in their region.

He has greatly increased troops in Iraq, where they are not welcome. He has re-supplied troops illegally occupying Syria while stealing its resources, and it appears he will not leave Afghanistan. He has also bombed the Syrian border and killed twenty-two government militia who had every right to be there and are in the business of genuinely fighting the terrorists of ISIS. And so far, he has made a complete mess of returning to the Iran nuclear agreement (JCPOA) Trump stupidly discarded.

It is not a promising start. Exactly such action leaves Trump room to come along and say. “See, I told you about forever wars,” and there are a good many who will listen. Given his large base, Trump only needs an increment from the center to win again.

America’s attention remains focused on telling others how to run their affairs. It is a dead-end policy that does not recognize the many ongoing changes in the world. And, of course, continued focus on empire and the military means ignoring the needs of your own people. The need for better education and training, for infrastructure of every description, the need of alleviating poverty – in sum, the need to make Americans more competitive than they are.

But Biden is dutifully following the elites and their interest in maintaining control and their own privileged positions in the world. It is a pursuit that does nothing for a great many Americans while consuming vast resources.

Can you even imagine what it costs to send an aircraft carrier and its accompanying ships to the South China Sea? Thousands of men to be fed morale-boosting meals every day? Eight thousand miles from the coast of America? And for what? So arrogant men like Secretary of State Blinken can feel important.

I do not think Biden is going to be a very successful president. That creates an opening for Trump and his red-meat crowd.

Clearly, a political system which offers voters a choice between Biden and Trump is bankrupt. It reflects the elites looking only after themselves. The resources of the country – physical, monetary, and human capital – are focused on the system of empire which benefits America’s plutocracy and its serving elites.

America’s long-term political irresponsibility, through such matters as taxation and anti-trust, has allowed a monstrously unequal society to evolve. And this comes at a time of great and rapid change in the world, change which America is not really equipped to handle.

We likely face a great deal of disappointment and grief before America can come to grips with the fact that it is not exceptional.

AFTERNOTE:

Joe Biden will be too old to contest the next election, and likely Kamala Harris will be the Democrats’ candidate. While Harris has a number of appealing qualities, I think it clear she is pretty much Biden with a warm smile and a white pants suit.

Posted March 5, 2021 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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