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Dire Predictions

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This is being drafted on the eve of the 2016 Republican Convention. It is an attempt at a cold-blooded look at the balance of forces in the United States and the conclusions it comes to are not pretty. The author of these predictions hopes he is wrong but fears he is correct. I’m avoiding “dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s” in this essay. I’m keeping it short to insure that the reader will to read it to its end.

Let’s start off with the quadrennial hysteria called “U.S. Democracy in Action” – the presidential elections. What will be the outcome of these elections? The likelihood is that Trump will be the candidate of the Republican Party and Clinton will be the Democratic standard-bearer. There are other scenarios that will be considered, but, in the long run, they all add up to pretty much the same fraught conclusion.

But let’s first consider the most likely scenario – a Trump vs. Clinton contest. The odds are that, with the Republican Party divided, Trump will lose badly, this, despite the fact that Clinton is not liked and considered untrustworthy by huge swaths of the electorate. We already see the first signs of this in Trump’s inability to raise necessary campaign funds. Jill Stein, the beneficiary of the disaffected Bernie supporters may attract perhaps ten percent of the vote. This would be a huge improvement for the Green Party, but will not, by any stretch of the imagination, alter the outcome – a Clinton victory.

What will be the response of the Republican base – predominantly white, disaffected, working- and middle-class men – to Trump’s defeat? Here is likely to be their immediate reaction: They’re already pissed off because of their belief that “they are losing America” to the Establishment, the well-educated, people of color, immigrants, the big corporations who are moving the good jobs overseas, etc., etc. Thus, their initial reaction is likely to be fury – rage against the “RINOs” (Republicans in name only) who sold them out by refusing to do their all to support Trump’s bid for the presidency.

And their long-term reaction? They will perceive that, despite Trump’s popularity, he did not have enough support throughout the country to win an election. Their inclination will probably be to dispense with an electoral approach in favor of one that will remind us of the German brown shirts – a coming-together of all the already-existing disparate right-wing forces into a full-blown-fascist movement. The gun clubs, militias, Klan offshoots, Tea Partiers, NRA supporters will say to themselves that they’ll have to dispense with their undependable “moderate” allies, organize themselves more tightly and prepare to take over the country by extra-legal means, if necessary.

And what will a Clinton presidency be like? She’ll undoubtedly retreat forthwith from her Sanders-like pseudo-populism and return to her true colors, those of a neo-liberal. She’ll support TPP, give a few salves to some strata of the working class, conduct a hawk-like foreign policy, increasing tensions with Russia and China, and keep us embroiled in old and new wars in the Middle East. Interventions in Latin America are possible, as well.

In the mean time, many of the former Sanders supporters will be attempting to build a movement. It will grow, maybe even becoming a mass movement, but it is unlikely to reach the strength of the well-organized former Trump supporters, now preparing to take power in a quasi-military coup. The Left will be fatally compromised by racial divisions, its torn loyalties to the two-party tradition, the left of the Democratic Party, the first woman president and the power of the Democratic machine, with Bernie, now reduced to impotence as merely one of a hundred senators and compromised by his lukewarm support of Hillary Clinton.

This is the most likely scenario. What are the alternatives? Now that Hillary will not be indicted (the rigged Democratic campaign continues apace) there are only two: A) Trump will not get the Republican nomination, after all. B) Trump will be nominated and win the election. Let’s consider each of them.

If the Republican establishment pulls off a coup by changing the Convention rules at the last minute, it is doubtful that a different Republican candidate could eke out a win in the general election. Firstly, the Trump supporters will continue to be pissed off, only now their initial focus will be the RINOs. They’ll be likely to sit out the election, making a Clinton victory all the more likely. The Democrats will be energized by the Republican split, making them more formidable. But the long-term effects are not likely to be different from those already outlined. The right-wing will still mobilize, divorce itself from the Republican Party and form extra-legal mechanisms designed to take power.

Let’s look at the other possibility – a Trump victory at the polls. What would a Trump presidency look like? First of all, it’s likely that his narcissism and shoot-from-the-hip mentality will produce an incoherent start to his presidency. Eventually the Republican establishment, and maybe even Trump himself, will realize this and they will coalesce around an extremely right-wing populist, but non-fascist agenda. What will be the outcome of this scenario? It is unpredictable, but very likely to be the prelude to a fascist takeover, probably because the fascist base of the Republican Party will grow stronger and come to dominate it.

In the mean time, with any of these three scenarios, what will the Left be doing? It will be growing stronger. The coming together of the youth will be accompanied by its self-education. It will come to the conclusion that capitalism, either under Clinton or under Trump, is not working and needs to be replaced. Their older and more experienced brothers and sisters will be heartened by this influx into the ranks and become more militant themselves.

Now, I’ll take a moment to lay out my view of fascism. To me, fascism comes about when the façade of democracy is found to be unable to maintain the power and control of the ruling capitalist elite and the rule of capital itself needs to be maintained by naked force. Thus, it is simultaneously a sign of the weakness of capitalism and yet its still-enduring strength.

What will be the balance of forces then? I’m afraid it will lie with the forces of reaction. The Left will not yet have come into its own; it will be searching for what sort of post-capitalist polity it is seeking; it will still be trying to decide what organizational structures will reflect its new-found political/economic goals, even assuming these goals have been determined. The Right will have a simpler problem: what to do about the rising Left? Luckily for them the solution is more realizable: repress the Left through legal and extra-legal means, whichever is more convenient. Similar treatment will be meted out to the supporters of the undocumented, but it’s likely that the undocumented themselves not be deported, since they’ll be needed to do the work.

This, then, is the grim future I see. I’m writing this now in the hopes that, if my insights are correct, we on the left can be forewarned and thus forearmed. If we can prepare well enough, we might be able to forestall an attempted right-wing coup or even defeat it.

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Gene Glickman is a retired college professor of music. He now conducts a progressive chorus, called “Harmonic Insurgence,” and makes choral arrangements for it and other choruses. He lives in Brooklyn, NY and can be reached at eugene.glickman@ncc.edu.  

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