What Trump and the Republican Party Teach Us

“Tis now the very witching time of night, When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out. Contagion to this world; now could I drink hot blood, And do such bitter business as the day.”

– Hamlet

Both teach us or should have taught us by now many, many things but foremost for a Biden administration to consider is that the Republican Party has been waging a war, no holds barred, in the name of maximizing profit to those invested at the upper quintile while Democrats have been contemplating the bust of Homer, that is, aspiring to lofty extensions of the common Good to even the lowliest among us. And so on.

What Trump has taught us is that he wants it all and will take down everyone and anything, including the country and the planet Earth, to get to where his delusions lead him. Hell breathes out, as Hamlet says.

In a review of E.J. Dionne’s new book, Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unify to Save Our Country, Joseph O’Neill writes: “Republicans cannot be trusted with meaningful power precisely because they form one of the world-historical dangers that must be overcome. Noam Chomsky has accurately described the contemporary Republican Party as `the most dangerous organization in human history.’ . . . It’s a generation of decent but passive people who find it difficult to grasp that their job is to enact meaningful policies that Democrats like, and Republicans don’t like.”

This aggressiveness hasn’t been the Democratic Party of Clinton, Obama, Biden, Schumer and Pelosi, although Pelosi now mixes anger in her reactions to what she recently called “unconstitutional slop” coming from Trump. But Democrats have failed to stand opposed in a determined battlefield solidarity to an anti-government, privatize whatever is public, and get taxes and regulations out of the way of business fever which infected the country long before the Coronavirus.

They have failed to do so because of a ground level affiliation, compliance and complicity with the Republicans regarding a life, livelihood and planet destroying economics they both call “free enterprise.” Dramatically, and perhaps to his peril, Bernie Sanders tried to put an end to this complicity by urging his Democratic Socialist position.

There is a definite coziness of the Democrats with globalized capitalism even in its Wall Street financialized form, exemplified in Bill Clinton’s acceptance of all this as inevitable progress and not what it was — a cyber accelerated invasion of financial naivete worldwide by the likes of Goldman Sachs and City Bank and their band of raiders.

There’s a mutual affiliation with hyper-capitalism that Democrats and Republicans share, a dark affiliation that has created a leviathan of political, economic and social power that has led us to where we are now: so drastically divided in quality of life, obscenely rich and obscenely immiserated, that an obscenity of humanity is elected president and now threatens martial law if he’s not elected again and perhaps for his lifetime, and a pandemic controlled elsewhere will run its course in the U.S. because “divided we fall” and “the king is mad.”

Aggressiveness is however becoming more and more the ticket of Democrats who now, steps away from a Democrat capture of the executive branch, are positioned to not only heed the progressive/social democratic force represented by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, AOC and others but also the burst of determination of Black Lives Matter.

What the latter has been able to do is energize opposition by showing clearly what tragedies against blacks have been part of the American status quo. If the energy expended in making that fight in the streets can be transferred to the case against economic injustice that Bernie and Warren have clearly made, and transferred as well totally to the Green New Deal then the Democrats can show a coordinated thrust against Republican forces. They could launch an offense that they have not had since Reagan captured the hearts and minds of a very politically and economically naïve nation.

You would not find such political and economic naivety in a post-two war Europe, forced into full awareness of both politics and economics. American ignorance of such matters was bred on the middle-class contentment of its own post war years. Reagan would never have won an election with a platform to suck wealth from the middle class and freeze economic mobility if what FDR had accomplished in the New Deal had been understood by those who subsequently prospered because of it.

The offense and street activism of Black Lives Matter can only be transferred to the ways in which change is enacted in a democratic society. Stating, as Aislinn Pulley, a founder of Black Lives Matter Chicago, did that “We will remain in the streets until our demands are met” following the shootings and lootings in Chicago on August 10th plays into the hands of “law and order” Trump, who is now feeding his campaign hopes on clearing those streets. Shouting “Corporate bootlicker” through a bullhorn in front of the home of a Seattle City Council member because she “was not yet willing to throw her support behind such a steep cut [police funding] without a plan to carry it out” is not exactly taking the fight to the Republic Party.

Joe Biden, Democratic presidential nominee, has expressed the same view regarding defunding the police. The question then arises whether he will lose the support of Black Lives Matter because he sees a path to getting things done within our legislative traditions and not in acquiescing to street demand. Thus far, the Black Lives Matter strategy for creating change is set to increase antagonism with those white voters already perennially fearful and threatened by black power.

Racists, of course, will be racists regardless of whether its King’s non-violence or Malcolm’s self-defense. But what history shows us is that when King worked on LBJ, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 resulted.

A goal of changing the consciousness of racists is not a political goal because what our consciousness brings to us is not what attacks our self-image, the ego we work hard to protect. We cannot bring into our consciousness what destabilizes the way in which we are aware of ourselves, others and the world. Some conversion process must go on if our own self-regard is to be maintained or salvaged. Racism here then becomes a proud defense, not a dark devil of our human nature. Racists cannot accept the indictments Black Lives Matter justly make, or the horrific depictions of police brutality to blacks without facing their own racism. And this their own consciousness tries not to do.

It would seem then more doable in every way to leave that consciousness to its own end, as Kant left the existence of a celestial entity alone, and focus on advancing the combative energies of the man who is set to become the next president of the United States, Joe Biden. The pursuit of racist conversion is somewhat comparable to the Liberal urge to create a just and loving diversity out of which unity emerges. Rather than mobilize in either pursuit, energy should be directed toward a fight to take one hill at a time in the battle Republicans know they’re in, but Democrats are yet on the cusp of learning that.

It’s not Biden’s age that needs a jolt but his inclinations to respect and reach out to those who have been in a search and destroy campaign for forty years. It’s his bonhomie that bounces everywhere that needs to be jolted into an awareness that he’s bouncing in a battlefield.

Obama had the same urge to rise above partisanship and have a beer with those set on destroying his presidency. It’s hard to believe he misread Mitch McConnell’s clear message to destroy his presidency. By 2008, the writing was already on the wall. You could as easily find common ground with Hitler, which Chamberlain tried to do, as find such common ground with a Republican Party set on having the Federal Government do nothing but defend and imprison.

It fits the temper of the moment for Biden to have picked Kamala Harris as his running mate but beyond that photo op is a real point: Sen. Harris’s drive and ambition can do what Black Lives Matter can do: bring Biden into seeing that he’s in a knife fight in a phone booth and not in a “why can’t we all get along” arena.

The media is focused as always on a populist tabloid level, which means personalities and the drama they bring to the page and so all attention is on Biden the individual. But the future of regeneration and redemption depend on the energy that surrounds him.

Trump subsumed all the personalities and energies around him because that’s what a megalomaniacal ego does. Biden needs infusions of the energies of others and so extend the presidency beyond one personality. There are signs that he realizes this, his Bernie affiliation being one such sign. He needs not, though, to waste time schmoozing Mitch McConnell or trying to talk Jim Jordan into wearing a jacket, or into anything. Republican consciousness is as set against a $600 addition to unemployment as Goldman Sachs is to reintroducing Glass-Steagall. Thinking here coalesces.

We need to image the sphere of influence surrounding Biden and get off him personally. We’re traumatized by Trump’s personal demons, but governing is a group think.

Elizabeth Warren or Paul Krugman or Robert Reich or Richard D. Wolff at Treasury would prickle our pampered untouchable financial sector, Sherrod Brown or James P. Hoffa would do the same at Labor, as would Cornell West or Thomas Frank in the “Senior Advisor” position Jared Kushner now holds. Amy Klobuchar, Corey Booker, and Michael Bennet would serve well in any position but keeping them in the Senate is now more important than such cabinet posts. But Mayor Pete, Adam Schiff, Susan Rice, Jay Inslee, Karen Bass, Jay Inslee, Julian Castro, Andrew Yang, AOC, Dr. Fauci, Stacey Abrams, Gretchen Whitmer and so many a Trump regime has spurned could create a very energetic, transforming Biden administration.

The inclination for Democrats ascending to power to reach across the aisle, be bi-partisan or even, as Obama yearned, post-partisan and express that by including Wall Street ravagers or Republicans with popular appeal in important positions needs to be resisted. It’s a mug’s game.

Robert Rubin, chosen by Bill Clinton as Treasury Secretary, spent sixteen years at Goldman Sachs and “received more than $126 million in cash and stock during his tenure at Citigroup, up through and including Citigroup’s bailout by the U.S. Treasury.” (Wikipedia) Bringing Mitt Romney, former private equity CEO, into Biden’s administration, would be a repeat of the Clinton-Rubin self-destructive bi-partisan impulse Liberals take with them into a war with Republicans, which of course they have not, until Bernie, understood they were in. This is like carrying your enemy’s ammunition to be fired at you.

It should be clear by now to the Democratic Party that sweetness and light, peaceful togetherness cannot be forged with a party willing to destroy all in the name of profit. It’s not by chance that such a party finds itself attached to a personification of this destructive spirit, Donald J. Trump. He didn’t kidnap the Republican Party; they groomed him into being, as well as so many others. It is especially disappointing and frightening to see young apologists for this degenerate presidency, young, intelligent minds affiliated in unfathomable ways with this empty, boastful bag of a man. Shakespeare “unfathomed” it when he wrote: “Virtue is choked with foul ambition.”

We need reminders of what destruction lies ahead if Trump wins by vote or holds on to the presidency by declaring a state of national emergency for reasons he is presently testing out on Twitter and subsequently imposes martial law to quell the lawlessness and disorder that his corruption of the election will surely create.

“Oh, we’ll be cutting,” was Trump’s response when asked about so-called entitlement programs. If you have private health insurance and a wealth managed retirement plan, cutting or eliminating Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid shouldn’t be your concern.

According to our President “when we get into April, in the warmer weather—that has a very negative effect on that, and that type of a virus.”

Need more expert medical advice from your president?

“It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.”

“I’ve always known this is a real—this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic … I’ve always viewed it as very serious.”

And what if we don’t open up?

Suicides “definitely would be in far greater numbers than the numbers that we’re talking about” from Covid-19.

The pandemic is “fading away. It’s going to fade away.” June 17th, at the point where the U.S. was seeing 20,000 new cases daily.

The pandemic is “getting under control.” July 2, 50,000 daily.

Fourth of July message: “99%” of COVID-19 cases are “totally harmless.”

“I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? … It would be interesting to check that. . . look into whether or not sun and disinfectant on the hands [work].”

July 6th: “We now have the lowest Fatality (Mortality) Rate in the World.” World’s 9th worst fatality rate on that date.

Taking hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19: “You’re not going to get sick or die,” It doesn’t hurt people.” Medical science says the drug has no benefit but can cause death.

By November 3rd more and more Americans will have far less than seven degrees of separation from someone who has suffered or died from Covid-19.

That reality should lay to rest all the variety of whacko conspiracy theories or blind rejections of this pandemic.

It should be crystal clear that Trump’s denial of this pandemic’s impact, his assertion that it may be a Biden conspired hoax, that’s it’s no worse than the flu, that injecting bleach will cure you, that “it will pass, everything passes, this will pass as well” hampered a nationwide intelligent response to this non-partisan killer.

And the Republican Party has remained loyal to him, through impeachment that if endorsed with a conviction by the Republican held Senate would have rid us of Trump. He would not now be our greatest obstacle to controlling this virus and preventing further deaths.

We do not now see signs of any intelligent awareness of all this in the “social” media or that Trump has lost supporters. We’re seeing a doubling down of both Trump and his followers. None of this bodes well for what the responses will be to the Nov. election. If you can’t convince someone that deaths are not products of conspiracies, how do you convince that person that the results show their man Trump has lost?

“[D]uring thee presidential election of 2016 in the United States, there was a one-to-one ratio of junk news to professional news shared by voters over Twitter.” (Philip N. Howard, Lie Machines)

“Only the most optimistic Kremlin spymaster would ever have dreamed of a US president who himself, unbidden, encourages the American people to lose all faith in their institutions, to distrust their media, scientists, judges, and intelligence agencies, even to take wild risks with their own health and so make a vicious pandemic worse. There is surely little need for active measures — spreading conspiracy theories or promoting bogus remedies — when the man in the Oval Office will do that for you.” (Jonathan Freedland, “Disinformed to Death,” NYRB, August 20, 2020)


Joseph Phillip Natoli’s The New Utrecht Avenue novel trilogy is on sale at Amazon. Time is the Fire ended what began with Get Ready to Run and Between Dog & Wolf. Humour noire with counterpunches. .