Sorry, Trump’s Not Conceding
I have been hearing liberals and lefties fantasizing that Donald Trump is conceding the presidency to Joe Biden.
The evidence for this curious thesis? 1. Biden’s significant polling lead over Trump not just nationally but in the battleground states where the presidency is contested. 2. The real or rumored pulling of some recent Trump campaign commercials. 3.Trump’s failure to embrace a big new stimulus bill with generous benefits for the poor and jobless amidst the COVID-19 Depression. If Trump wanted and still believed he could get a second term, the argument goes, he would be eager to identify himself with an expansion of the safety net.
So, goodbye Trump nightmare and Hello Joe “Empathy” Biden. Grab some popcorn and enjoy watching the Donald get dumped by Melania, start up the Trump Television Network, and scramble to stay out of prison. Right?
Wrong. This is not the proper take on Trump and where we are now. This is not a dystopian reality television show.
Donald “Total Domination” Trump is a sadistic malignant narcissist and neofascist who means it when he “jokes” that he’d like to be “president for life.”
Trump believes it when he says the U.S. Constitution gives him “the power to do whatever I want.”
He honestly does consider himself a Chosen One above the rule of law and elections.
He is serious when he claims that he cannot be fairly removed from office. He’s been seeding that narrative from the beginning of his presidency with his baseless claim to have been denied a popular vote victory by illegal voters in 2016. He’s been calling for “tough guys,” meaning cops, “bikers,” and soldiers (we can certainly include right-wing militia and various other neofascists) to wage “civil war” if and when “radical Left Democrats” (his absurd but revealingly fascistic description of corporate centrists like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden) try to use constitutional processes likes impeachment and elections to remove him from power.
On top of this, he knows he could be looking legal penalties once he no longer has the presidency to shield him from prosecution. Trump may well reason that he needs to keep the White House to keep out of jail.
The Plan is to F the Election, Not Win It
It is true the Trump isn’t really trying to win the election. But the liberal fantasists are wrong to think that Trump is looking forward to retirement from the presidency next January.
What gives? The catch is this: while Trump is not ruling out a straight-up above-the board electoral stomping of “Sleepy Joe” Biden on November 3rd, the main Trump and Republican 2020 plan is to steal, muddle, wreck, and poison and ruin the election with racist and partisan voter suppression (including closed polling stations and the enforcement of discriminatory voter ID laws), legal obstruction, physical intimidation, possible states of emergency, and a killer pandemic.
It’s not for nothing that Trump’s party has been trying to assemble an army of 50,000 “poll watchers” for November, “part of a multimillion-dollar effort to police who votes and how” (NBC News). The “poll watchers” will be brutish voter-intimidators specially deployed to minority polling locations in key battleground cities.
At the same time, Trump has been claiming without evidence that mail-in voting will result in widespread voter fraud. (Except, he now hilariously says, in places under sound Republican control.) Mail-in voting is required by the pandemic that Nancy Pelosi is right to call “the Trump Virus” (give the imperialist House Speaker due credit for this accurate trademark). But without the slightest hint of proof and contrary to everything we know, Trump repeatedly insists that an election reliant on mail-in ballots will be a “disgrace” and “disaster” that could take “months,” even “years”(!) to tabulate. The implication is clear: we’ll have to leave the widely hated beast in power and suspend the election until COVID-19 “just,” as Trump still says, “goes away.”
Trump floated the idea of suspending the election (because of mail-in voting’s supposedly flawed nature) via Twitter (which just banned the Trump campaign for claiming that children don’t really get COVID-19) last week.
In an obvious attempt to provide self-fulfilling proof for his thesis, Trump is having his recently appointed Postmaster General (a major Trump donor and fundraiser) produce mail backlogs meant to demonstrate that the U.S. Postal Service is “a mess” (Trump’s description) and therefore incapable of processing ballots in a fair and timely fashion.
It’s an authoritarian two-fer. The point is to discourage voting (“it’s just a big uncountable clusterf*#k so why bother?”) and to discredit a potential Biden victory in preparation of a legal challenge advanced Trump’s fascist Attorney General William Barr.
If he can’t cancel or suspend the election, Trump wants a long period of uncertainty after a vote not to his liking, a period in which he, his minions, and his white-nationalist (Republican) party can manipulate events.
We must be on the alert for various August, September, and October, November, December, and January surprises, including likely false claims to have shepherded a successful COVID-19 vaccine or cure. Other possibilities include a conflict with China (or perhaps Iran), a real or concocted terrorist attack, a charge of Chinese election interference on behalf of the Democrats, and a high-profile indictment of some Democrat (maybe Biden himself) in connection with “Obamagate.” Gird your loins for Barr’s Durham Report, certain to be released before the election.
COVID-19 is Part of the Evil Game
Like the wannabe dictator here is, Trump will be looking for pretexts to declare a state of emergency before, during, or after the election. Sickeningly enough, COVID-19 is part of the strategy. If anything, the virulent racist and Social Darwinist president has been encouraged to let the virus spread by data showing (as explained to him by white supremacists like his top political adviser Stephen Miller) that COVID-19 most particularly kills the poor, vulnerable, and nonwhite. But there are related electoral/anti-electoral considerations as well. We know from a recent in-depth Vanity Fair report that Trump’s sociopathic son-and-law Jared Kushner squashed a plan for national coronavirus testing last March and April after determining that the virus was hitting Democratic states the hardest and that the White House would be able to blame its spread on the nation’s fifty state governors.
Let that sink in. Talk about pure, distilled, and unmitigated evil.
We are five months into the pandemic hitting the U.S. The self-declared “world’s greatest democracy” accounts for more than a quarter of world’s COVID-19 cases but just of twentieth of the world’s population. At the currently spiking rates of spread, the Trump Virus will have killed more than a quarter million Americans by Election Day. And still there is no serious national public health response.
That would be a political disaster for a president seeking a second term in the standard bourgeois-electoral way. But COVID-45 is not a “normal” bourgeois politician. He’s a demonic and reptilian fascist committed to ruling in ways outside the usual ruling class parliamentary and constitutional norms. And from his twisted angle of vision, the pandemic is a chaos-generating and shock-administering plus. From the heartless Chosen One’s perspective, the disease that rightfully bears his name sows welcome chaos and fear, pulverizing and paralyzing the populace while providing pretexts for him to assault the rule of law and so-called “electoral democracy.” (No, he does not grasp this at any remotely intelligent ideological or doctrinal level, but he doesn’t have to; people around him do get it that way. And his instinctual, “honey-badger” grasp is quite strong).
“Come On, Man!” (Thanks Obama, Part 64)
Speaking of America’s supposed great electoral democracy (an Orwellian myth), there’s another reason Trump isn’t conceding the White House in 2021: Joe F’ing Biden, a cognitively crippled right-wing corporatist and imperialist who says he would veto Medicare for All (supported by seven in ten Americans) if it came to his desk as president. Joe Biden, a man who says he has “no empathy, give me a break” for the economic and environmental plight of Millennials in the savagely unequal and eco-cidal world he helped create over decades of abjectly corporatist, imperialist, and racist “public service.”
Given the obviously deteriorating state of Joe “You Know the Thing” Biden’s mind, Trump has good reason to guess that the fading 77-year-old Biden will blow-up much of his polling lead as the former Vice President’s cognitive difficulties are exposed under hot campaign lights. Here is some of the latest “oh my God” verbal confusion from Joe:
+ “I believe this every fiber of my being. We’re posed..[loses sentence, meant to say poised] …. what I’ve proposed is…[loses sentence]…it [what?] can be done! I think we’re in a position to really make it [what?] happen and my team and your team already working closely together to light up the path forward here. Critical lawks like the pro-act to strengthen collective bargaining. On politics, like prevailing and fer….[loses train of thought and frowns-]…look, I’m taking too much time here.”
+ “I had a nurse, uh, nurses at, uh, [looks lost]…Walter Reed Hospital who would bend down and whisper in my ear, and go home and get me pillows…they would make sure they’d, actually, probably nothing ever taught in, uh, you can’t do it in the covid time, but they’d actually breathe in my nostrils to make me [arms in the air] move, to get me moving.”
+ This, when asked by a reporter if he had followed Trump in taking a basic reasoning exam investigating his mental functioning: “No, I haven’t taken a [cognitive] test. Why the Hell would I take a test? Come on, man. That’s like saying you — before you got on this program, you take a test where you’re taking cocaine or not. What do you think? Huh? Are you a junkie?” (That was a fail right there. Biden’s analogy was thoroughly and obviously false.)
And just now, as I complete this essay, we have disturbing news that Joe “You Ain’t Black” Biden actually said this to the convention of the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists: “And by the way, what you all know, but most people don’t know, unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things.”
Gee, thanks, Obama. (Biden is still a thing on the national stage in this perilous time thanks to Obama no less than Sarah Palin ever became a thing because of John McCain.)
Shameless plug: please pre-order my new book Hollow Resistance: Obama, Trump, and the Politics of Appeasement. Its fifth chapter, titled “‘VOTE’ – For Who?” digs into Obama’s pivot role in bringing about Biden’s troubling and reckless nomination.
This is Happening Here
It is depressing to hear moderate, liberal, and progressive Democrats wax knowingly about what a slam dunk it is that Trump will be gone because of the Constitution and “the rule of law.”
“Bless their hearts,” as they say in the South. Since when has Donald Trump given a flying f*#k about constitutional checks and balances and the rule of law? Have these been following the Trump presidency the last three and a half years? Hello?
Seattle’s mayor Jenny Durkin wasn’t just “liberal bed-wetting” when she said that Trump’s deployment of federal paramilitaries to American cities is a “dress rehearsal for martial law.”
No shit. “Unidentified camouflage-wearing militia jumping out of vans to snatch people off the street without stating cause or crime,” says Revolutionary Communist Party spokesperson Andy Zee: “That’s police state shit. Not a made-for-tv movie, but real, setting precedent with the possibility of becoming the norm.”
What is a paramilitary force? As Zee explains: “armed forces who function like military but are made up other kinds of irregular forces not subject to the same rules and constraints as the military – rules that are, yes, broken consistently the U.S. military in their wars of occupation. But the paramilitary here is officially accountable only to Trump via his henchmen in the Department of Homeland Security.”
It’s a nasty and fascistic bunch of “federal agents” that Trump sent to Portland and is now deploying to other “homeland” (a lovely imperial word) cities under the chilling codename “Operation Diligent Valor” – and under the implausible pretext that the virulent racist Trump wants to stamp out so-called Black-on-Black violence in the nation’s ghettoes. As Zee explains:
“The core of this heavily armed force is made up of federal agents of Homeland Security with a strong presence of the Border Patrol Tactical Team, which is known as BORTAC. This is a special operations unit that is based on the U.S.-Mexico border and has been deployed overseas, including to Iraq and Afghanistan. These are forces that have demonstrated particular loyalty to Trump and his fascist program. And, as is well known (there is public record of this), these forces, like the local police, are riddled with fascists who, when off duty, are part of fascist thug forces and who do the same when they’re in their uniforms. This is the making of a fascist state. There is a rough analogy here to how Hitler developed the Gestapo out of the thug forces who were loyal to him.”
But don’t take your sense (I hope) of menace from an F-word-using radical like me or Zee. Read between the lines of the esteemed liberal Yale historian Timothy Snyder’s haunting reflections on the meaning of bringing gendarmes from frontier borderlands to “homeland” cities on the imperialist Rachel Maddow’s MSDNC show two weeks ago:
“[Empires’ authoritarian] violence [against their own citizens] starts at the borderland. People [gendarmes] can become accustomed to violence at the border. And then what an authoritarian regime does is it brings those people [gendarmes] back into the cities and uses them against protesters in the cities. People who are trained to think of Others as ‘not like us,’ as aliens, as foreigners are then told ‘oh, well there happen to be people inland who are also not like us…A similar aspect here is the detention centers. We have this huge network of detention centers, which are basically lawless zones. Another historical pattern [in the development of authoritarian states] is that people who are trained in lawless zones such as detention centers or concentration camps are then released into cities later on and they behave the same way. They behave the way they’ve been trained.”
That’s a key point: “they behave the way they’ve been trained.” Much of the nation’s military and vast police state structure will follow orders if Trump and his minions like Barr, Stephen Miller (a flat out white-supremacist), and Pence devise some marginally saleable pretext for physically suspending the election, the electoral count, or the installation of a new president.
I am quite familiar with the Chicago Police and with relevant research on the authoritarian, even fascist world view that is common among the nation’s “law enforcement” personnel.
This is happening here. If you are still calling Trump just a “clown” (seriously?) three and a half years into his reign, please at least have the decency to see him as Pennywise the Dancing Clown and not friendly Bozo.
I urge all Americans left of the nation’s Amerikaner-Trumpenvolk to start organizing and hitting the streets now, even before the election. These are things we need to get extremely good at as soon as possible. Even the elementary project of holding and carrying to fruition a bourgeois election is now going to require mass popular action.
“Everything is Broken”: Beyond Grief, Revolution
I would also suggest that people begin strategizing to confront not just Pennywise Trump and his dancing fascist minions but the entire, richly bipartisan class-rule system that put neofascistic psycho-killers like Donald Trump and Jared Kushner (among others) into the White House in the first place. “When things break,” Phil A. Neel writes in his haunting book Hinterland: America’s New Landscape of Class and Conflict, “it only shows that everything is broken.” America was already broken long before Trump came in, before COVID-19. The breaking goes way, way back. I overuse the following dead-on passage from Chris Hedges two years ago but I’m going to quote it yet one more time:
“The Trump administration did not rise, prima facie, like Venus on a half shell from the sea. Donald Trump is the result of a long process of political, cultural, and social decay. He is a product of our failed democracy. The longer we perpetuate the fiction that we live in a functioning democracy, that Trump and the political mutations around him are somehow an aberrant deviation that can be vanquished in the next election, the more we will hurtle toward tyranny. The problem is not Trump. It is a political system, dominated by corporate power and the mandarins of the two major political parties, in which we don’t count. We will wrest back political control by dismantling the corporate state, and this means massive and sustained civil disobedience.… If we do not stand up, we will enter a new dark age.”
This was written, under the prescient title “The Coming Collapse,” well before COVID-19 and the new Great Depression the pandemic sparked. The “new dark age” is underway. We have nothing left to lose. Thanks to the ongoing march of capitalogenic ecocide – a Trump-intensified menace intimately related to and yet even graver than 21st Century fascism (strange as that sounds to say) – it is “[eco-]socialism or barbarism if we’re lucky…If there is no future for a radical mass movement in our time,” Istvan Meszaros wrote two decades ago, “there can be no future for humanity itself.”