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Will There Be No Retribution?

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

“Rep. Adam Schiff lied to Congress and the American people with a totally made up statement about the president’s phone call. Will there be no retribution?”

– White House Statement from the Press Secretary, Feb. 5, 2020

If you’ve missed all the signals, cues and clues that Trump is on a march to clear the road of any obstacles to his autocracy, you need only to refresh your memory of Putin’s rise to see how this is done.

By 2008 it was clear that “a new autocracy now governs Russia. Behind a facade of democracy lies a centralized authority that has deployed a nationwide cadre of loyalists that is not reluctant to swat down those who challenge the ruling party.” (, Clifford Levy, “Putin’s Iron Grip on Russia Suffocates Opponents” The New York Times, Feb. 24, 2008))

Of course, there was a tradition in Mother Russia of retribution against all possible threats to autocratic rule. Stalin’s “Great Purge” between 1936 and 1938 removed such threats to the Gulags.

We have no such tradition in the U.S. but what we now face with Donald J. Trump is a kind of start-up autocratic enterprise, one of the great deals he is making us. And judging by his rise in the national polls after his Senate loyalists voted for him and his autocratic rule, this is a deal we’re ready to make. We may be in the same state of mind when it comes to democracy as the leader of Putin’s party attested in 2008: “`We are tired of democratic twists and turns,’ said the leader of Mr. Putin’s party in Nizhny Novgorod, Sergei G. Nekrasov. `It may sound sacrilegious, but I would propose to suspend all this election business for the time being, at least for managerial positions.’ (Levy)

Our path to suspending “all this election business” may be via a total foul up of the 2020 Presidential election, something that this week’s App count in Iowa gives us a glimpse.

Combined with all the liabilities of our cyberspace vote counting, we have our brand new displacement of fact with alternate facts, our mosh pit of our own personally validated Twitter declarations of Truth, our own President’s attacks on all words but his, the “legacy press” tied to a new legacy of falsehoods and fake news, and finally the certain presence of The Deep State, a cabal working in the dark corners throughout the government, except Trump’s White House, to keep the American people from keeping Trump in office for as long as he wants.

Payback is in the air. All over, high and low, far and wide. And it extends in different fashions beyond the crudities of Trump’s mafioso sense of vendetta.

An inestimable number of people are so enjoying the economic fruits of the Trump presidency that they are not motivated to study his nature. It’s a scorpion’s nature, that is, to sting. And the House of Representatives has acted in such a way, that is impeaching Trump, that he will sting them, probably at this moment conferring with Attorney General Barr as to how the sting can best be applied.

All manner of indicting claims will be made. National security, for instance, was jeopardized by the House’s impeachment. The whole proceeding was a Constitutional violation. Not recognizing that whatever Trump does is in the national interest because his re-election is in the national interest, something everyone Mr. Dershowitz’s knows is the case, is a direct attack on American interests. Someone needs to pay.

We’re all tuned in and ready to see how payback proceeds. If we follow the President’s tweets, we’ll get a roadmap of how he’ll proceed once he’s re-elected. Not to say, his scorpion nature won’t forego impulsive stinging right now, but the real deal of payback will go full stage at a second inaugural.

With the House of Representatives stopped cold in every way in the Senate trial and the Senate in Trump’s pocket, who’s to stop him from bringing charges against, say, Speaker Pelosi, House Managers Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler, Senator Schumer and everyone who stood in the Senate and sought his conviction? What does he have in store for Mitt Romney? Is Marie Yovanovitch still worrying when President Trump “will take her out,” or do “something about her?”

At very least, our President will assault his offenders on Twitter day and night, rallying his MAGAs to a revenge pitch, so that security will be an issue for his targets.

If he loses the election, which he says he can’t because while Nixon agreed to leave, he won’t. Payback for that refusal will probably come from our established Constitutional rule of law. Exactly as it emerged during the Senate impeachment trial.

A more certain payback will come from the MAGA bros who also will not allow Trump to be removed by the Deep State, the criminal House of Representatives, and the Coastal Elites who mock God and Guns but welcome Gays. If Bernie wins and Trump and the MAGA bros refuse to accept the win, the Bernie Bros will not be silent and stand by. Thus, these two factions will replace the Constitutional rule of law with rampaging tribes, each committed to their leader, each ready to pay back every unjust attack on their leader.

Of course, on his vendetta rampage, a re-elected Trump will multiply and magnify new impeachable charges. Scorpion nature once again. But will a vilified and humbled House of Representative be intact and sturdy enough to launch a new impeachment?

Another four years of a Trump White House would be something like releasing Wall Street from its post-2007 Great Recession shackles, which we’ve done, and expecting them not to repeat their crimes. Capitalism also has it scorpion nature, it being instinctual, or, axiomatic, if you wish, to reap profits, to sting the losers and reward the winners.

We didn’t see President Obama launching any payback against the Wall Street looters. It wasn’t in his bi-partisan hopeful nature to be harsh with those that he, personally, could bring back into a productive bi-partisan happy marriage.

It also hasn’t been in the Liberal/Progressive nature to seek payback because, after all, the sins of “free” enterprise must be carefully extracted from the wonderful efficiency of the market.

The “thinking” here is that the stings of capitalism on most of the population are not more than collateral damage. Both parties hold this view.

Neoliberals boldly stand behind “creative destruction” and warn of the perils of “moral hazards,” make no apology for a few winning and most losing. Liberals, on the other hand, are weepy and woke about the consequences of “free” enterprise enslavement of everybody but those you can’t see hidden in gated compounds. They have triage stations, bandages at the ready. They have beneficent philanthropies, protests and marches, charities and volunteering. They’ll leave their son’s Lacrosse match and come to your hovel and hold your hand.

As prominent in the days ahead as Trump’s vendetta march will be the DNC’s tactics to keep Bernie Sanders from winning the Primary and become that Party’s presidential nominee for 2020.

Not wanting Bernie as the Democratic Presidential nominee goes way beyond the calculus of whether he could win a national election or whether he could hold his own against the Reality-TV pro Donald Trump.

The Democratic Party has shied away from making the kind of attack Bernie has made on our free-wheeling, casino capitalism. And this economic Master Imperative of Market Rule has been the foundational progenitor of all our woes, although there’s a one to six degrees of separation between it and any of the symptoms with which the DNC are most absorbed.

Politics of identity, particularly Black Lives Matter, Women’s’ Rights, and LGBTQ Rights, would dissolve to the bone of our twisted human nature, if an empowering amount of wealth would be in the hands of these groups. A wealth and power that comes with wealth equity between men and women, any color and white, and any gender and cisgender would take us as far as can go, right to the gates of a dark twistedness that we cannot societally culturally and legislatively reach.

The wealth gap is only one degree of separation from a rethinking and recasting of our runaway Market Rule, a recasting that Bernie Sanders is pushing for. The Democratic Party is not behind this, as little convinced of the destructive significance of a severe wealth gap as is the Republican Party.

The Democratic Party has long shown that it believes that whichever direction the market chooses to go will be the path that the precariat should take as a path of advance. Every marginalized group will be legislated into the center established by Market Rule. We’ll all equally be casino capitalists.

This has been patently nonsense since Adam Smith. Absurd to believe that if the Congress were totally liberal and progressive and the President was also, everyone could be legislated into a social and political justice within the stochastic dispensations of casino capitalism.

What marks every brand of socialist is an understanding that such social and political justice cannot exist within a system axiomatically producing ever increasing economic inequality. The latter erodes the former. We live in proof of such.

The DNC doesn’t see this, but Bernie Sanders does. We can expect then that the more he wins delegates in Primary elections and the closer he gets to the 1990 pledged delegate votes needed to win the nomination, the more the DNC will push back

It seems clear that if the controlling force of the Democratic Party is fearful of Bernie’s economic revolution, perhaps only slightly less fearful than Republicans in the country, Bernie will be experiencing pushback from every quarter, both political parties as well as corporate America, leaving him his Bernie Bros.

Perhaps if Bernie can expose Trump in the debates for the total ignoramus he is, all those whose ideology is “Anyone but Trump” may cast their votes for Bernie. However, whether the “Anyone but a Socialist” voters, both Democrat and Republican, see Trump as a lesser of two evils, results change. We need to remember that Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania see Trump as their blue-collar hero. Bernie is his socialist message and that does not resonate blue collar/working class even in these union birthplace states.

There is a kind of retribution on not only Trump but the economics that supports his very existence that Bernie Sanders can deal out. Contemporaneously, we have every indication that if Trump wins a second term as president he will push his own retributive actions and thus further decimate the kind of opposition that Sanders and Warren and AOC represent and is supported for doing so, as he was in the Senate impeachment trial. And all that will be done amid Liberal cries for bi partisanship.

 

Joseph Natoli has published books and articles, on and off line, on literature and literary theory, philosophy, postmodernity, politics, education, psychology, cultural studies, popular culture, including film, TV, music, sports, and food and farming. His most recent book is Dark Affinities, Dark Imaginaries: A Mind’s Odyssey .

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