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Sinking in the Swamp

Washington DC was a swamp at the beginning of 2017. When Donald Trump held his inauguration party that so many did not go to, it became an even muddier swamp. At the beginning of 2018 it is clear that there is a leaking septic tank in the middle of that swamp. The smell of corruption that has always emanated from that town to some degree has become a stench that is so heavy and repulsive it hangs on the fabric of the thousand dollar suits worn by those who ram through laws legitimizing theft in our name but for the benefit of the world’s most powerful. When these suits travel the world in search of new places to rob or destroy, the stench of their ill-gotten millions attracts others of similar ilk.

The threat of war is heightened and the Trumpists are throwing gasoline on some of the globe’s hottest spots.  The Middle East and Korea are the first that come to mind.  Of course, it’s not like the loyal opposition in the media and the political world seem to have much of a problem with waging war against Pyonyang, Palestine or Tehran. War is the surest symptom of the health of the state, especially when that state is as unhealthy as the entity we call the United States. Like most administrations, the Trump/GOP budget cuts do not affect the Pentagon. Like most GOP administrations, the war profiteers watch their share of taxpayer money increase while social services face more cuts. No matter how many times the Republican Party tries to make it so, it is impossible to provide both guns and butter. So, Washington’s answer is more guns and less butter. For too many folks, there isn’t much bread for the butter anyhow, so the issue is merely an exercise.

There are those who argue that the situation would be just as bad with a Democrat in the White House. While I tend to agree, I think there would be a very important difference. The public discourse would not be as full of race, gender and class hatred. In other words, white supremacists would not have the forum they currently enjoy, male supremacists would be strutting less, and the rich would be much quieter about the ongoing theft of working people’s wealth. Under Trump and the Trumpists, those who cheer these actions have not only been given a forum, their ideas are regaining a legitimacy they have not had for decades. Furthermore, that legitimacy is considerably nastier and brutish. Is this the crisis that needs to culminate in order for positive social change to arrive? I would like to think so, but I fear that is too hopeful of a reading. It seems more likely that the brutishness and hatred will intensify while positive change will cease to be considered.

Trump even has some folks who grew up during Nixon’s reign wishing for Tricky Dick over the madman currently in the White House. I want to use this moment to remind them that Nixon was as authoritarian as Trump and, so far anyhow, killed exponentially more people. It’s not Nixon you want, it’s the mass left-leaning movement in the streets that you long for. Millions of us cheered Nixon’s departure and wished he had been put in prison for his crimes. He was as much of an enemy then as Trump is now.

Besides Nixon’s legacy of murder and corruption, there’s the little known fact that it was under his administration that the Health Maintenance Organization Act was passed. This act made it legal to profit from health care for the first time in the United States. As a favor to the CEO of Kaiser-Permanente, Nixon signed the Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973. We are all paying for that law. Under Trump, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is being dismantled with nothing in mind but greater profit. In case you forgot, the ACA is the feeble attempt to relieve the health-seeking public from some of the more disastrous aspects of health-care-for-profit. Although it has serious faults stemming from its establishment as part of the health care for profit industry, the ACA has helped millions to receive much needed health care. Trump and the GOP are determined to end that. Along with a hell of a lot more than civility.

Like Jim Morrison sang in his song “Roadhouse Blues,”, “The future’s uncertain and the end is always near.” Multiply that a hundredfold in the land of Trump. The uncertainty is certainly part of the Trumpist strategy, but it could also be their undoing. By stirring the teapot of unrest like he has done, he is adding an element over which he has less control—the element of resistance. However, in order for that resistance to effectively counter the Trumpist agenda, it must also be unpredictable and uncontrollable to some extent. Pat of its strategy should be to make the current situation ungovernable.

That means the Democratic Party cannot and should not have a leading role. This isn’t to say the Democrats should not oppose Trump. It’s just that any opposition they might provide can only be part of the party’s strategy to take the seats of power currently under control of their counterpart in capitalist rule—the Republican Party. It is ultimately a losing strategy. If the Democrats somehow managed to field candidates who could deliver single payer healthcare and an end to the war economy, those candidates would get my vote. However, unless those policies were written into the Constitution, the wealthy lords of the political system would convince/pay other politicians to overturn them as soon as they could. If the reader doubts this, just go back fifty years to the Great Society programs and see what remains of them. Even better, go back to the New Deal and describe what remains of those attempts to distribute wealth more fairly. The point I am trying to make is that the capitalist class never gives up its goal of maximizing its profits. Therefore, you can’t really depend on their political parties to do much to change that. Of course, a complete overhaul is also unlikely. Yet, that is what should be the goal, just like it was when Nixon was the president.

The swamp is not being drained. It is becoming more toxic by the day. It is now ebb tide at the pig farm and the sewage is in the pool where your children go to swim. If protests don’t begin to fill the streets, expect more of the same. If they do fill the streets, expect a serious struggle with equally serious consequences, one way or another.

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Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

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