First Chávez, now Trump
Photo by Alisdare Hickson (https://www.flickr.com/people/59952459@N08)
by James Tweedie
Sayre’s Law states that: “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.”
Egyptian historian Charles Issawi’s maxim about academia also neatly explains why US politics is so vitriolic, and every organisation and public figure so partisan. Since there’s almost no difference between the policies of the Democrats and Republicans any more, they’re always at each other’s throats over trivial disagreements.
But are we about to see the US pull a coup d’etat on its own government at last?
Attempts to remove US President Donald Trump from office began even before he was sworn in in January 20th 2016, and have become increasingly demented in this election year.
The doomed impeachment stunt in Congress in February was followed by Democratic point-scoring over the COVID-19 pandemic and cynical jumping on the Black Lives Matter bandwagon. All the political machinery has been put in motion to install Joe Biden as president this November.
Biden, the former trade union leader turned senator and then vice-president to the great fraud Barack Obama, is the personification of the US establishment.
Trump, on the other hand, is ‘new money.’ His mother and paternal grandparents were humble immigrants, as is his current wife Melania, a Slovene fashion model whose father was a car salesman. Trump didn’t serve his time in Congress or as a state governor before running for the presidency. It’s not hard to see where so much of the vitriol against him stems from.
Ironically, the same class snobbery was directed towards the late Venezuelan socialist president Hugo Chávez and his successor, the former bus driver Nicholás Maduro. Chávez the chav was smart enough to defeat a US-backed coup in 2002, while Maduro has survived regime-change efforts from the Obama and Trump administrations.
Four years of hounding and dirty tricks against Trump have only strengthened his claim to be the outsider and underdog battling the Deep State. All the rich, spoilt celebrities screaming “FUCK TRUMP!”, the ocean of liberal tears shed on live TV, the snobbish metropolitan middles-class sneering on social media, only make his supporters love him more.
The Threat of Change
On March 1 this year, Bernie Sanders declared Trump “the greatest threat to this country in the modern history of this country.”
The USA gained independence in 1783, well into the modern era . Since then it has faced many threats, including its own disastrous invasion of Canada in 1812, during which a British army captured Washington and burnt down the president’s mansion (known as the White House after they painted over the scorch marks).
Then there was the Confederate secession and four-year civil war that killed two to three per cent of the entire population, the alliance of the Japanese Empire and Nazi Germany in the Second World War, and the nuclear-armed Soviet Union and China threatening US imperialist hegemony.
So Sanders was exaggerating slightly. But he (along with Biden, Clinton, Obama and the rest of the Democrats) is also paying Trump a great compliment. It doesn’t matter if The Donald will ‘Make America Great Again’, Sanders is saying he’s already Made American Politics Interesting Again.
The Democrat message is that Trump is a threat to the status quo and the establishment, of which they are the defenders. It’s hard to see how that’s going to win them the election.
Globalism or Nationalism?
During his 2016 election campaign Trump dubbed himself ‘Mr Brexit’, stealing his friend Nigel Farage’s nickname. This was very apt; both Brexit and Trump’s election were the result of the same factors: The conflict between productive and finance capital and the new undercurrent of rebellion in the socially-conservative working and lower-mddle classes.
Plus Hillary Clinton promised to start World War Three over Syria and then called everyone who wouldn’t vote for her a “basket of deplorables.”
Trump and Farage both represent what Marxist-Leninists would call the national bourgeoisie. Trump appealed explicitly to those businesspeople, especially in local small- and medium-sized enterprises, who have lost out to finance capital which knows no borders.
Hillary Clinton’s public opposition to Britain leaving the EU served no real electoral purpose, except to mark herself out as an ally of global finance.
Given the choice between the national bourgeoisie and globalised capital, the working class will choose the former. Trump promised to bring off-shored investment and jobs back home, and that won him the vital swing voters in the Rustbelt swing states.
Of course, Lenin wrote that imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism, and the last before revolution and the workers’ state – and the US is the centre of western imperialism. Marxists don’t believe history can run in reverse, so Trump must be a fake.
But the traditional left also failed to see the so-called ‘redneck rebellion’ – against both established conservative leaders and ‘woke’ liberalism – coming. They didn’t lead it, they don’t control it and so they fear it, branding it racist or fascist, just as they did the Brexit vote.
At a victory rally in North Carolina weeks after his election, Trump declared: “We will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with.”
It’s hard to call Trump a peacemaker. He ordered two massive (although ineffective) cruise missile attacks on Syria in 2017 and 2018. He has also abandoned two nuclear arms limitation treaties with Russia. In any case, US foreign and defence policy doesn’t change with presidents – it’s made by the career diplomats and military officers who run the Departments of State and Defence.
But Trump also held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, ended US military support for Kurdish separatists in Syria, refused two clear pretexts to go to war with Iran and negotiated an agreement to finally end the Afghan war after 19 years. He may even end his first term without starting a new war, which no US president has done since Jimmy Carter.
They’re no better than that
Remember the Democrat’s slogan ‘We’re Better Than This’ from two years ago? That was in response to images of children locked up in immigration detention centres on the border with Mexico. Well, history will tell you the US is no better than that at all.
Some 2.5 million Latin American migrants were deported from the US during the two Obama governments, more than 2 million under Bush. Thousands of those were unaccompanied children.
Bill Clinton’s secretary of state Madeleine Albright famously said the deaths of half a million Iraqi children as a result of sanctions was “worth it” to serve the interests of US foreign policy.
The US killed millions of Vietnamese civilians in a war it could never admit it was losing, and supported the murder of millions more in Indonesia by the Suharto dictatorship – which Barack Obama’s own mother bore witness to.
Obama was elected in 2008 on the promise to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, close the black site prison camp at the illegally-occupied Guantanamo Bay US navy base in Cuba, and create a state healthcare system.
Not only did Obama fail to end those two pointless wars, he started a few more. The sainted ‘first black president’ (apart from hundreds of African and Caribbean leaders) destroyed Libya, the most prosperous nation in Africa. Then he sent the sectarian terrorist forces he unleashed in Libya to plague the secular, multi-religious state of Syria.
The great liberal engineered the 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine that put genuine neo-Nazis in government. His ‘reset with Russia’ was a reboot of the Cold War. His ‘pivot to Asia’ rode in on an aircraft carrier battle group. His refusal to negotiate with North Korea only spurred on that nation’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development.
And Joe Biden was with him every step of the way.
Not only did Obama fail to close ‘Gitmo’, he used new powers to order the assassinations of US citizens abroad without trial on the mere suspicion that they were involved in terrorism.
Even Obama’s successes were phoney. He achieved détente with Cuba, but only in the hope of openly funding counter-revolutionaries there.
Some blame Obama’s failures to keep his promises on the Democrats losing control of Congress two years into his first term. But he was never shy about using the Supreme Court or executive orders as a substitute for legislation. In one such order he threatened to cut federal funding to public schools if they refused to boys to use the girls’ toilets and vice versa.
Yet for all his crocodile tears over the child victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre or the shooting of Treyvon Martin, he never lifted a finger on gun control. Nor did he take meaningful action against police brutality against his fellow black citizens.
No other candidate than Biden was allowed to win the Democratic Party nomination this year. By staying in the race long after it was clear she couldn’t win and splitting the left vote, Elizabeth Warren sabotaged Sanders’ campaign, then pulled out and endorsed Biden.
The charge against Trump in the impeachment farce was that he asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate well-publicised corruption allegations against Biden and his son. What are the Democrats so afraid of that they must make their anointed candidate so untouchable?
What’s the alternative?
The impeachment saga raised the prospect of Vice-President Mike Pence, a Christian fundamentalist whose hawkishness makes George W Bush look like Mohandas K Gandhi, being sworn in in Trump’s place.
Pence, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (a former CIA director) and now-sacked national security adviser John Bolton, led the charge for regime-change in Venezuela. Luckily, Trump has so far been smart enough not to make the South American nation his own personal Vietnam.
Now liberal commentators are openly flying kites for Biden to run on a “bipartisan” ticket with Bush’s secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.
Rice supported the first Ukraine coup and Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006. She declared that the disastrous Iraq invasion “set out to help the people of the Middle East transform their societies.” In her last year in office, Rice tipped the wink to Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili to invade Russia. It seems like a match made in heaven… or hell.
With the Black Lives Matter protests once again in full swing across the USA, some are openly calling Trump and anyone who supports him ‘fascist’ and ‘racist’. The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer focussed attention on the oppressive nature of law and order in the capitalist state. But that will never change short of a revolution.
It’s hard to say if Trump is more racist than Hillary Clinton, who in 1996 called young black men ‘super-predators’, or if Trump’s border wall is worse than the Democrat-run ‘sanctuary cities’ that encourage Latin Americans to risk their lives (and die in many cases) at the mercy of people-traffickers.
Like all liberal democracies, the two-party system in the US maintains the illusion of choice in how we are governed in a capitalist economy. Either denying the political space to Trump and his fans or cobbling together a Biden/Rice ‘national unity government’ would tear the mask off class rule in the USA, without offering any way out.
American liberals should be careful what they wish for.