Beyond the Hollow Ones

Photo by DonkeyHotey | CC BY 2.0

Photo by DonkeyHotey | CC BY 2.0

“Of Course They Don’t Care”

The elitist corporate Democrats prefer to hand presidential and Supreme Court tipping power over to a quasi-, proto-, neo- or real fascist than to be a social democratic party of the people. That much is clear from their insistence on running a hopelessly corrupt, politically incompetent, and uninspiring right-wing Democrat named Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump.  For all his serious flaws from a seriously Left perspective, Bernie Sanders might well have been able to leap past the usual right wing vote-tampering in key Electoral College states (maybe not – more on that below) to defeat Trump.  Sanders would have had a much better chance because he didn’t share the neoliberal Clinton Democrats’ contempt for white majority working class and rural folks – the “heartland” people Mrs. Clinton foolishly smeared as “deplorables” as she struggled to resurrect to the Obama coalition.

Sanders ran in accord with majority progressive opinion on numerous key policy issues  For that he was treated with the standard disdain “elite” dollar Dems have long held for progressives in their party’s ranks. The Robert Rubin-Clinton-Obama-Citibank-Council on Foreign Relations Democrats’ scorn for their party’s left-wing is written all over WikiLeaks and numerous other sources including the editorial pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post.

(I have already penned several lengthy accounts of these Democrats’ responsibility for Trump’s ascendancy and victory. For my latest essay on that ugly topic see my latest CounterPunch piece: “The Long Death March of the Dismal Dollar Democrats.”)

Here in Iowa City establishment Dems are busy adapting to the Age of Trump they helped create. They are re focusing on their personal well-being.  It was a “stressful election,” but life goes on and it’s not that bad really – not for them anyway. Trump isn’t going to take away their law practices, their tenured academic positions, their college football tailgate spots, their administrative posts, their comfortable pensions, their European vacations, their sumptuous homes, or their nice cars.

The main price will be paid by less privileged, less white and more vulnerable people: Latinos, Muslims, immigrants, Blacks, Native Americans, women seeking control of their bodies and lives – not to mention livable ecology and the working class as a whole. Oh, it’s a shame, all that, but everyone really just have should have voted for Hillary.  It was her turn! Time to get behind the peaceful transition of power and start working to get out the vote in 2020.

“Of course they don’t care,” Margaret Kimberly of Black Agenda Report recently told me, “the Democratic Party is a p.r. firm that specializes in convincing people they work for their interests when they don’t. All they want is to win the presidency and cut deals with rich people. This year they couldn’t even do that.”

Drive All Blame on to Others…Except the Private Voting Machine and Software Companies Who Stole Another Election

They made sure they couldn’t even do that by rigging the game to make sure the Democrats ran Horrid Hillary instead of the progressive Sanders (to whom I should not give too much credit given his failure to seriously go for the jugular against Clinton and his sorry, Bayard Rustin-like surrender to the fiscal and cultural imperatives of the U.S. military Empire.) And now they are making sure to place the fault on others. Jason Hirthler called it last Friday on CounterPunch:

“Oh, they’ll start pouring out their bile now, blaming everyone but themselves and their candidate media’s fault for popularizing Trump (a Clinton strategy). It was the FBI’s fault for re-opening the email case (thanks to Huma Abedin’s ex). It was stupid Middle America’s fault for being racist and sexist (was that why they voted for Trump?). It was third-party supporters who screwed us in Florida again (Paul Krugman and Rachel Maddow are furious that leftists didn’t vote for their heroine). It was Russia’s fault for hacking the DNC (no evidence) and plotting to invade Europe (no evidence).”

Actually, though, there are two legitimate targets top Democrats are reluctant to blame. The first is the Electoral College, that Constitutionally-mandated absurdity that lets candidates become U.S. President without winning the popular vote. The second is the official voting machine outcome in key contested states.  The vote counts violated the exit polls at levels that defy basic statistical laws. The U.S. State Department would call an election with such statistically impossible disparities invalid if it put in a candidate Washington didn’t like in another country. But statistics don’t count inside the self-proclaimed heartland and headquarters of democracy, where right-wing private and for-profit corporations tied to the Neocon establishment are in preposterous charge of proprietary vote-tabulating software (used to subvert elections in the Third World in the past) and voting machines.  That plus racist voter suppression helped to ensure a crooked Trump victory in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. Winner take all.

Trump was right to warn about a rigged election but wrong to say it would be rigged against him — the opposite was the case (this was my sense before). It happened in 2004 and 2004 and it just happened again. (Listen to this Eric Draister CounterPunch Radio interview with the leading election integrity attorney and political scientist Bob Fitrakis.) Oh, well.

It’s absurd to expect the Clintons to challenge the vote count since they rigged results against Sanders in the primaries and there are connections between private election software and voting machine companies and the Clinton Foundation.

One can chew some gum here (loathing the neoliberal and imperial Clintons) and walk (support the integrity of elections) at the same time.

“Get the Hell Out of Here”

At a rally in Iowa City’s downtown Ped Mall last Wednesday, I spoke briefly against the revolting installation of right-wing U.S. presidents who don’t have the decency to win even the Republican-rigged popular vote (Dubya in 2001 and now The Donald in 2017). I denounced the sickening racism of Trump (advocate of a “national stop and frisk law”) and Trump’s dangerous climate change denial.  I mocked the idea that democratic citizenship consists of writing little marks or poking holes on a ballot or touching a screen once every four years (for five minutes or so once every 1460 days).  I spoke up for the courageous activists who have continued their remarkable struggle against the eco-cidal, planet-cooking Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) beneath and beyond the major party election cycle that is falsely sold to us as “politics” – the only politics that matters.

After I spoke I walked up to the local Clintonian Congressman David Loebsack’s Iowa City henchman and asked him how it felt to have handed all three branches of the federal government over to Republican fascists. The henchman and his friends were amused by the notion that they might bear some responsibility for the election’s outcome. A nicely dressed Clintonite women standing nearby told me to “get the Hell out of here.”

All the while the henchman kept his sinister grin plastered across his vapid face. He and his ilk remind me in their own pseudo-professional class way of the old Mad Magazine cover with Alfred E. Neuman smiling idiotically above the slogan “What Me Worry?”

Loebsack is a stale sack of flour who taught centrist political science at a marginal liberal arts college before sweeping into Congress on a lucky tailwind of the anti-Bush sentiment in 2006. Last January, I saw him Caucus most viciously for the ruling class operative known to Wall Street insiders as “Lady Klynton Kissinger [Goldman] Sachs” (LKKS).  It was nauseating to behold Loebsack’s mean-spirited, left-trashing hustle on behalf of “the lying neoliberal warmonger” (LNW) Hillary Clinton.

“What, Us at Fault?  You think WE did that? Seriously?”

“Not all of it.  There are numerous culprits, but I put you folks high on the list.”

Talk about “the death of the liberal class” (Chris Hedges).  These dismal dollar Dems are the hollow men and women of our time.

There will be more unpleasant interactions like this in coming days and weeks. Good.  Let the blood flow. The divorce from these manipulative neoliberal Democrats must be finalized. What business to these hollow men and women have showing their face at popular protests over the ascendancy of a quasi- or real-fascist president to whom they have helped hand the keys of power because of their hatred for the working classes and the left? They need to pass form the scene and let younger and more radical voices take over.

A Curious Irony

Don’t count on them slipping under the bus of history without a nasty fight. The arrogance of the “elite” Democrats and their “progressive” enablers knows no bounds.  I have heard some of them and their fake-left protectors – venomous and big-headed shills like David Corn, for example – proclaim (as Corn did on National “Public” Radio last Thursday) that nobody who failed to vote for LKKS has a right to be in the streets protesting Trump’s ascendancy.  Orwell would be impressed: you must have voted for a hollow neoliberal Democrat if you want to participate in non-electoral street politics – politics to which you would have stayed committed if Clinton had won. You can’t be a Left activist and protest stolen elections or the absurdity of the Electoral College unless you voted for a LNW.  Right. I wonder, are undocumented people allowed to fight back against Trump in coming months even though they didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton?

One neat irony here is that the fake-populist Trump’s right-wing Big Business agenda (his transition team is filling up with corporate lobbyists and executives) will get more opposition from the “hard” Lefties who couldn’t make themselves vote for Hillary to block Trump than those who backed her in the name of the self-fulfilling prophecy called “lesser evil voting.” That’s because portside “radicals” are less attached to U.S. electoral politics and the endless quadrennial electoral extravaganzas, whose terrible essence were captured nicely by Noam Chomsky last June.  Under the reigning U.S. definition, Chomsky noted, “Citizenship means every four years you put a mark somewhere and you go home and let other guys run the world. It’s a very destructive ideology,” Chomsky added, “a way of making people passive, submissive objects…we ought to teach kids that elections take place but that’s not [all of] politics.”  Dare we add that regularly stolen elections are not all of politics?

I’ve long declared my primary allegiance to the politics of who’s sitting in the streets over the politics of who’s sitting in the suites (and the White House and the governors’ office). I was preparing for the politics of the streets to be mainly about rebuilding an antiwar movement after a narrow Hillary victory – this because of her reckless bellicosity toward Russia. With Trump in (thanks in no small part to the Paul von Hindenburg-like nothingness of the Hollow Men and Women atop the Democratic Party) my sense is that the greatest immediate threats are police-statist racism, nativism, and runaway climate change.

“And What Did That Accomplish”?

There are some positive signs and silver linings. Here in Iowa City, as across the country, lots of young folks are not taking the rigged selection and appointment of the quasi-fascist Trump lying down. Last Thursday, 200 plus high school and college students and a nice smattering of older adults showed up downtown and marched all the way out to Interstate 80 – the Main Street of America, Incorporated – and shut it down for a half hour or so. It was quite unexpected and exhilarating. I think they had no idea they could do something like that – until they did. They just kept walking north, behind the lead of two Leftist ruffians who spoke of revolution.

“And what,” a sneering old Clinton apologist asked me online, “did that accomplish?” The mostly young marchers developed a sense of their own power – their power to bring out big numbers of people, to keep a march together and fun and loving for miles.  They joined the national protest of Trump in the only way they could get nationally noticed. There were lots of great solidarity-building experiences and conversations – and cheers and high-fives from motorists – along the way. I met a lot of good, concerned, and courageous people on this hike – people who cannot fathom going back to business(rule)-as-usual with a fascist getting ready to move into the White House.  It was a little way to tell the rest of the country that all of Iowa isn’t behind an illegitimate, white-nationalist, and sexist presidency.

Silver Linings

One silver lining in the dark cloud of Trump is that the near-term threat of a dangerous military confrontation with Russia will recede for at least a year or more (no small matter). Hillary seemed dead-seat on a military confrontation with the Kremlin.

The nation’s many and interrelated unjust and illegitimate authority structures could seem more preposterous than ever after the ultimate authority position – the Oval Office – has been handed (without a majority popular vote – some democracy) to a malicious and narcissistic buffoon from reality television. The coming new open ass-clown in the White House may help people see the naked farce behind the veneer of legitimacy. Let the mass sense of absurdity flow.  There’s a lot of emperors parading around naked in this viciously unequal New Gilded Age society: in our workplaces, in our schools, atop the Business class, ahead of our local police forces…you name it. Their power is ridiculous, just like Donald’s.

Along the way he and his handlers can be counted on to bungle significantly in their roles atop the executive committee of the ruling class. “There are no morals in politics,” Lenin once wrote; “there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.”

Another silver lining is that progressives and others will be more inclined to pay serious critical attention to corrupt state-capitalist government policy with a really bad (that sounds like an understatement with regard to Trump) Republican in the White House.  There’s something oddly hypnotic for them about the presence of an Ivy League-educated smooth-talking teleprompter-ized Democrat in the White House. Such presidents put too many U.S. liberals and progressives to deadly sleep when it comes to the movement politics that need to expand beneath and beyond quadrennial electoral spectacles.

Last but not least, the election of Trump ought to signal the death-knell of the Clinton-Obama-Democratic Leadership Conference (DLC)–Hamilton Project-Robert Rubin-Lawrence Summers-John Podesta-Neoliberal ideology atop the Democratic Party.  The dismal dollar Democrats and their middle class “progressive” enablers are being exposed as pathetic Hollow Men and Women, enablers of the white nationalist right.  Their political expiration is long overdue.

I hear people talking about what is to be done, and how to do it, to a degree that would be unthinkable if Hillary had sueaked through. There’s no more “go[ing] home to let other [rich and powerful] guys run the world [into the ground].”  It’s on, people.

Great struggles need to be fought in streets, homes, workplaces, and community centers –  struggles not for the restoration of the disgraced neoliberal Democrats but for social justice and democracy (including an overhauled electoral and party system) beyond the nation’s unelected and interrelated Deep State dictatorships of money and empire. “The really critical thing isn’t who is sitting in the White House,” Howard Zinn once wrote, “but who is sitting in–in the streets, in the cafeterias, in the halls of government, in the factories. Who is protesting, who is occupying offices and demonstrating–those are the things that determine what happens.” A little too romantic and spontaneitist perhaps (organization is required along with action), but those reflections are worth bearing in mind as we struggle to build and expand a disciplined, dedicated, and radically democratic people’s movement politics that can’t be hijacked by major party politicos and their constant efforts to turn everything into a giant get-out-the-vote campaign.  The votes aren’t even properly counted anyway, by the way.

Paul Street’s new book is The Hollow Resistance: Obama, Trump, and Politics of Appeasement.