Midnight Ramble: A Fascist Rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Photograph Source: mathiaswasik – CC BY 2.0

At one of his permanent fascist-style campaign rallies on December 10, 2019, the day the U.S. House of Representatives rolled out Articles of Impeachment, United States President Donald J. Trump told an adoring Pennsylvania crowd that U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren “has a fresh mouth.” The meaning of this insult was understood by his audience. It was that Senator Warren is an uppity woman who talks back inappropriately to male superiors. Trump also repeated his mocking racist reference to Warren as “Pocahontas,” a derisive term he fixed on her in 2016 to make fun of her claims of Native American ancestry.

There were just two of many chilling moments in the president’s ugly 75-hate-minute harangue. Other low points in the demented fascist oligarch’s “speech” included the following:

+ Two references to FBI officials who investigated his past Russian connections in 2016 as “scum.”

+ Reference to “the so-called articles of impeachment.”

+ The absurd claim that the House Judiciary Committee’s richly evidence-backed case against him for trying to trade arms to Ukraine in return for that government’s assistance to his cause in the 2020 U.S. presidential election as “the weakest impeachment case ever” (Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about sex).

+ The continuation of Trump’s longstanding false, racist, and nativist claim (the heart of his 2015 candidacy announcement) that the U.S. is being overrun by “illegal alien” rapists and murderers.

+ Vicious nickname references to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “Nervous Nancy,” to U.S. House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff as “Shifty Schiff;” and to Democratic presidential candidate Pete Butiggieg as “Alfred E. Neuman.”

+ The absurd claim that his poll numbers are “going through the roof.”

+ Absurd references to the deeply conservative corporate-neoliberal Democratic Party as “the radical Left Democrats” and “the party of socialism.”

+ The preposterous and venomous description of Single Payer health insurance (health coverage as a human right regardless of wealth or income) as “crazy socialism.”

+ The absurd claim that Democrats support “socialized medicine” and would take away Americans’ right to choose their doctors.

+ The bizarre claim that the “do-nothing Democrats” had been “taken over” by the self-declared democratic socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC).

+ The ludicrous assertion that the Democrats are trying to “overthrow the government.”

+ The false claim that a Department of Justice Inspector General’s report just released shows that the FBI’s investigation of his campaign’s Russian ties was a corrupt and partisan abuse of power.

+ Standard Trump references to news media that don’t pay homage to him as “very dishonest.”

+ The blood-curdling charge that Democrats want to “rip [infants] from their mothers’ wombs” and “execute the baby!”

Trump received huge cheers from his paranoid-style white-nationalist fans as he boomed these wild claims.

The Trumpenvolk roared when their Dear Leader trumpeted “Space Force,” a program for the increased militarization of space. The fever-swamp in the stands howled with delight when their Great God boasted about the U.S. killing of two top “bloodthirsty [ISIS] savages” in the Middle East.

When a woman protester was removed from the rally, the president screamed “Get her out” and shamed the security card expelling her for being “politically correct” by removing the woman too gently, without violence. “Get her out. Get her out,” Trump commanded while his devotees pointed and shrieked at the demonstrator – a courageous young member of Refuse Fascism who donned a #MeToo hat and held as a sign saying, “Grabbing Power Back.”

“See, these guys want to be so politically correct,” Trump said of the security guard trying to remove the demonstrator from the arena. “You see that? I’ll tell you, law enforcement’s so great. That particular guy wanted to be so politically correct.”

Consistent with his long history of urging his supporters and security guards to attack protesters, Trump mocked the security guard for not putting his hands on the woman. “I don’t know who he was,” Trump said. “He didn’t do the greatest job.”

While the white mob chanted “USA! USA!” from the rafters, Trump proclaimed that “America is winning Again…America,” Trump said, “is so respected” (now that he has guided it back to greatness. In fact, most of the world and much of the U.S. itself views America under Trump with a depressing mixture of derision and fear, neither of which should be confused with respect.)

At one point in the rally, Trump promoted the cult of Trump by boasting that the beloved right-wing president Ronald Reagan could never have attracted crowds the size of his great rallies. “You are so lucky I became your president,” Trump said.

“The survival of our country is at stake,” Trump proclaimed, channeling authoritarian despotism’s timeworn theme of national crisis and emergency. “We will destroy our country if these people get in,” he said in reference to the “radical Left” Democrats running for president.

“We are taking back our country,” Trump said. “We are returning power to the American people, to you.” Trump thanked Pennsylvania and his backers for making the U.S. “the greatest and most powerful in the history of the world.” He wrapped up with this paean to the American Fatherland and his far-seeing leadership:

“With your help, and with your devotion, and your drive we are going to keep on working, we are going to keep on fighting, and we are going to keep on winning, winning, winning. We are going to keep on winning. We are one movement, one people, one family, and one glorious nation under God. America is thriving like never before. Ladies and gentlemen of Pennsylvania, the best is yet to come. Because together we will make America wealthy again, we will make America strong again, we will make America proud again, we will make America safe again, and we will make America great again.”

The rally ended with the playing of the Rolling Stones angelic tune “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” A better choice would have been the Stones’ dark tune about a marauding “hit and run raper,” the “Midnight Rambler,” or, better yet the group’s classic “Sympathy for the Devil.”

Angry Trumpenvolk interviewed after the rally told reporters the removal of Trump – not going to happen (see below) – would soak a “second Civil War.” One old white male Trumpist said he’d respond to his hero’s removal with “my .357 Magnum.” Another one precited an uprising by “seventy to eighty million Americans on the loose, not happy” (an absurd number given the fact that Trump received 60 million votes in 2016).

Trump is Getting Off, Easy

I tell people who are still, even now caught up in moronic fascism-denial about Trump and his base to watch his rallies and read the transcripts of the cunningly cruel “speeches” the orange monstrosity gives at these dreadful gatherings. Trump may be a malignant idiot on numerous levels, but he’s a skilled and now long-practiced maestro when it comes to manipulating crowds and spreading hate at these white-nationalist jamborees.

Fuhrer Trump didn’t miss a beat just because he’s about to be become the third U.S. president to wear the impeachment dunce camp. The Midtown Mussolini was the same old happy fascist fighter he usually is on the rally stage in Hershey, Pennsylvania last Tuesday night. He knows that Senator Mitch McConnell and other members of the Trumpified Amerikaner Party have his back. His dutiful servants in the majority-Republican upper chamber of Congress will easily prevent removal in the Senate, where the nation’s most racist, reactionary, rural, fundamentalist, and righteously white regions are absurdly over-represented thanks to an archaic 18th Century constitution that gives small-population states like Wyoming and Montana than same number of Senators as vastly populated states like California and New York.

Trump certainly also knows that the impeachment hearings have had little if any impact on his approval numbers in an electorate that is already locked into three categories: for him, against him, and disengaged. The corporate-managed ex-citizenry seems evenly divided between partisan Republicans, partisan Democrats, and a third that doesn’t follow the spectacle or vote for either of the major capitalist and imperialist political organizations. If anything, impeachment is likely mobilizing support (voter turnout and financial contributions) for the neofascist Republican Party while encouraging passivity in the nation’s all-too silent progressive majority. Combined with the continuing epic and authoritarian dysfunction of a Democratic Party that would rather lose to the right-wing, even a neo-fascistic Republican Party than lose to the more electable and mildly social-democratic progressive left wing of its own party, this suggests the distinct possibility that Trump will become the first president to pull off the remarkable twin feat of getting impeached and then re-elected.

Perhaps Trump also senses that he is getting off very easy with indictment (impeachment) by the House but non-conviction (non-removal) by the Senate for the real but largely intra-elite transgression that is UkraineGate. The progressive activist “Roots Action” website gives the following daunting list of offenses for which Trump deserves impeachment: violation of Constitution on domestic emoluments; violation of Constitution on foreign emoluments; incitement of violence; interference with voting rights; discrimination based on religion; illegal war; illegal threat of nuclear war; abuse of pardon power; obstruction of justice; politicizing prosecutions; collusion against the United States with a foreign government; failure to reasonably prepare for or respond to Hurricanes Harvey and Maria; separating children and infants from families; illegally attempting to influence an election; tax fraud and public misrepresentation; assaulting freedom of the press; supporting a coup in Venezuela; unconstitutional declaration of emergency; instructing Border Patrol to violate the law; refusal to comply with subpoenas; declaration of emergency without basis in order to violate the will of Congress; illegal proliferation of nuclear technology, and illegally removing the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

“The Most Overlooked and Serious Case for Impeachment”

Roots Action should have included Trump’s worst offense: the criminal acceleration of ecocide, the biggest issue of our or any time. Trump has brazenly violated his oath to serve the general welfare by doing everything he can to turn the world into a giant greenhouse gas chamber as soon as possible. As the hauntingly clairvoyant American University history professor Alan Lichtman recently told Washingtonian:

“The most overlooked and serious case for impeachment is that Trump is putting the survival of humanity at risk, by not just halting, but throttling back efforts to combat catastrophic climate change. At a time when every scientific analysis is warning that we are at the brink of true existential disaster for all of humanity. I think that is a crime against humanity which he should be impeached for. And indeed, the International Criminal Court, we’re not subject to its jurisdiction, but it makes crime against environment one of the crimes against humanity. But just as Richard Nixon was not impeached for his worst crime, which was the illegal war that killed more than one hundred thousand people in Cambodia, I don’t think Trump will be impeached for his worst crime.”

Indeed, we would do well to recall Noam Chomsky’s criticism of the de facto impeachment and removal of President Richard Nixon. Watergate was about Nixon’s breaking of ruling-class norms by needlessly burglarizing the other major imperial party’s candidate headquarters. The Watergate hearings evaded Nixon’s and Kissinger’s mass murderous bombings of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, their criminal support for a fascist coup in Chile, and Nixon’s vicious, fascist-style police-state repression of the antiwar, black freedom and radical left movements. Nixon’s biggest crimes went un-aired and unpunished. It was officially fine for Nixon to inflict monumental murder and mayhem on anti-imperial freedom fighters, peasants and the left at home and abroad. Nixon’s only authorized sin was to have stupidly messed with the other American ruling class and imperial party, the Democrats, at home.

“Centrist Power and Wealth” Will Give Trump a Second Term

Democrats would do well also to heed the advice summarized in the title of a recent interview with Chomsky: “Centrism Will Only Get Us Four More Years of Trump.” As Chomsky explains:

“If the donor class succeeds in nominating a centrist candidate [e.g. Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Michael Bloomberg, or Amy Klobuchar – P.S.], progressive activist forces might be disillusioned and reluctant to do the work on the ground that will be needed to prevent the tragedy — repeat, tragedy — of four more years of Trumpism. If a progressive candidate does gain the nomination, centrist power and wealth may back away, again opening the path to tragedy. It will be a fateful year. It will be even more important than usual to remain level-headed and to think through with care the consequences of action, and inaction.”

Note how Chomsky (surely the most penetrating Left thinker of the last half-century if not longer) senses accurately that the Democrats nominating Sanders or perhaps Warren is no guarantee of defeating Trump, since a “progressive candidate” – a clearly accurate description of Sanders though perhaps not of Warren – could cost the Democrats “donor class” and, I would add (as Chomsky certainly knows) corporate media support. It’s a reasonable concern. Behold this chilling report from the corporate business network CNBC last September:

“Wall Street Democratic donors warn the party: We’ll sit out, or back Trump, if you nominate Elizabeth Warren. In recent interviews of several big-money Democratic donors and fundraisers in the business community, CNBC has found that this opinion is becoming widely shared as Warren surges against Joe Biden. Democratic donors on Wall Street and in big business are preparing to sit out the presidential campaign fundraising cycle — or even back President Donald Trump — if Sen. Elizabeth Warren wins the party’s nomination.”

“In recent weeks, CNBC spoke to several high-dollar Democratic donors and fundraisers in the business community and found that this opinion was becoming widely shared as Warren, an outspoken critic of big banks and corporations, gains momentum against Joe Biden in the 2020 race. ‘You’re in a box because you’re a Democrat and you’re thinking, “I want to help the party, but she’s going to hurt me, so I’m going to help President Trump,”’ said a senior private equity executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity in fear of retribution by party leaders. The executive said this Wednesday, a day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would begin a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump” (emphasis added).”

Read that report again and let it sink in: several” top Democratic Party election bankrollers are ready to back the revolting racist, sexist, eco-exterminist, malignant narcissist, and neo-fascist Trump over and against not just the progressive populist and self-declared socialist Bernie Sanders but even over and against the self-declared “capitalist” and center-left Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

This money-greased mindset is how the dismal, depressing, demobilizing and dollar-drenched Democrats opened the door to Trump in the first place. Why wouldn’t they do it again? They aren’t about democracy, social justice, environmental sanity or even primarily about winning elections. They are mainly about serving the corporate oligarchy, the financial elite that many of them wish to enter.

Go Puerto Rico and Gilets Jaunes

Perhaps the only way to seriously remove Trump is through a prolonged popular rebellion beyond tepid and deeply flawed bourgeois-constitutional and electoral means. We could follow Yale historian Timothy Snyder’s anti-tyranny advice to “Learn from peers from other countries” (On Tyranny: 20 Lessons From the Twentieth Century [2017], p. 95) by following the model of what millions of people have been courageously doing around the world – in Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, Iraq, Lebanon, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere, including France, where millions are in the streets in an unlimited general strike against the neoliberal Macron regime’s assault on worker pensions.

If the Fake Resistance corporate Democratic Party was serious about removing Trump, it would embrace and even encourage mass popular mobilization, using the threat of people in the streets to push the removal of Trump (and his Christian fascist pet and insurance policy Mike Pence) as a way of pacifying the masses.

Perhaps too, the nation’s excessively electoralist progressive-populist Sandernistas should consider embracing and organizing mass protests for much the same reason – to advance the nomination and election of the neo-New Dealer Bernie as an alternative to revolution. Many Sanders folks tell me that being about a social movement is a big part of what distinguishes them and their candidate from the Warren campaign. Here’s a chance for them to prove it and to garner advantages for their own electoral dreams along the way.

In the meantime, without a mass popular intervention from below – an existential necessity in my view – the tame bourgeois constitutional process that Trump and his brethren absurdly call a “coup” may well work to his neofascist advantage. It’s one minute to midnight in America and indeed the world. It’s time for the American masses to take a midnight ramble and stay out until the dawn of democracy, social justice, and environmental sanity are won from below.

Please help Street keep writing here.

Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).