Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair
Running for Fuhrer and Loving It
It doesn’t look great for Slow Joe Biden, belatedly rising from his basement while the Orange Malignancy takes its white nationalist hate show on the road.
Donald Trump is in fighting shape, throwing out one fascistic jab and neo-McCarthyite hook after another. The Orange Menace looks cocky. He’s relishing the fight. He’s mangling truth and distorting reality with reckless abandon. He’s ready to rumble.
He’s calling Biden names like a towel-snapping locker-room bully boy. “He doesn’t know what day it is,” Trump says. “He doesn’t know what state he’s in,” Trump snorts, planting another towel snap on Biden’s basement-softened buttocks. Take that, “Sleepy Joe,” you “Trojan Horse of Socialism.”
Trump knows what he’s doing and where he is. This is what he’s about. This is where he excels.
He’s got big money backers willing to drink his Kool Aid, assembling without masks or social distancing to applaud his concluding paranoid-style convention speech on the White House lawn. As the Yale philosopher Jason Stanley has remarked, “fascism is a death cult.”
Here is an excellent account of Trump’s nomination acceptance speech courtesy of the World Socialist Website, where (unlike way too many older Left thinkers I know) the writers correctly understand Trump as a fascist:
“Trump runs for Führer…In a scene that looked like a theatrical rendition of Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here, US President Donald Trump delivered a fascistic tirade from the White House lawn Thursday night, painting his reelection as the last bastion against ‘agitators’ and ‘socialists.’”
“In an unprecedented and illegal move, Trump used the White House as a backdrop for his speech concluding the Republican National Convention (RNC), treating the office of the presidency as his own personal property in pursuit of reelection. At one point, Trump turned to face the White House and gloated, ‘The fact is, I’m here… and they’re not.’”
“Trump delivered his tirade as demonstrations against police violence continued throughout the country following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Trump spoke just two days after a fascistic vigilante, incited by the inflammatory speeches at the RNC, carried out a mass shooting at a protest in Kenosha that left two innocent people dead.”
So what if it’s technically criminal to use the White House for partisan campaign purposes? Like the Honey Badger of onetime Internet fame, Trump don’t care. The orange beast “really doesn’t give a shit.” When has the racist and rapist crime-boss Trump ever given a damn about constitutional and legal norms, not to mention basic civilizational norms? The Malignant One honestly believes that the Constitution “gives me the power to do anything I want.”
And he’s right to be smiling through the hate. He may be behind in the polls, but the polls are already tightening in the states that matter. His backers are in a minority but not all that much of one. They have far greater enthusiasm for their incumbent candidate than the Democrats have for theirs.
He doesn’t need to the win the popular vote to repeat, just the Electoral College, and he knows it. He’s not likely to accept an Electoral College outcome that doesn’t go his way and is doing everything he can – like screwing with the mail-in voting process that is required by the pandemic he has fanned – to de-legitimize a “vote” that doesn’t bring him back for four more years of fascist madness. He’s been setting this up from day one. He’s announcing it in advance.
Hillary led in the polls at this time in 2016.
No wonder Trump is feeling good and cocky, like all the unmasked white cops I see laughing at young civil right protester in the streets of Chicago.
Thanks for Joe, Obama
Biden, by contrast. looks and sounds old and tired. He seems hesitant, often befuddled, and well, weak. He’s so transparently lame that the epic right-wing pissant George Will, a never Trump Republican, is begging for Biden to “have a Sister Soulja moment” – that is, to launch some rhetorical law and order smackdown of Black folks and protesters so that he can look like a big strong white man. That’s what Biden’s “law and order” speech in Pennsylvania is about today (I am writing on the morning of Monday, August 31st).
To make matters worse, Slow Joe is a dismal, dollar-drenched Democrat in the depressing corporate-neoliberal and warmongering, objectively white-supremacist Clinton-Obama-Lieberman mode. The supposed “Trojan Horse for Socialism” is running well to the Big Business-friendly right of public opinion on numerous key issues.
Joe looks to many like a fading brown seal ready for the jaws of the Great White Nationalist Shark. Despite Biden’s persistent but declining lead in national and battleground state polls, most Americans expect Trump to win.
This appallingly bad contender is yet another reason to say, Gee Thanks Obama, you “vacuous to repressive neoliberal” son of a bitch.
First, the Occupy-crushing drone killer Obama demobilized the Democratic Party base and discredits hope for progressive change through electoral politics by governing in cringing Orwellian accord with the dictates of capital, the American Empire, and the reigning “white fragility” – this while goading Trump into running with an epic comedic smackdown at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Then Obama promoted the horrifically unpopular and dismal centrist, the “lying neoliberal warmonger” Hillary Clinton, over the actually progressive and popular Democrat Bernie Sanders, in accord with Citigroup and Goldman Sachs’ commands, in 2016. We saw how that worked out.
And then, as if all that wasn’t evil enough, Obama helped rig the 2020 presidential primaries so that a man he knows very well to be a doddering right-wing dufus (!) – Joe Biden – is who the Democrats have put up against a president that Noam Chomsky has called (correctly in my opinion) “the most dangerous criminal in human history.” (For details on this sordid, not-so “behind-the-scenes” story, please see Chapter 5 of my forthcoming book Hollow Resistance: Obama, Trump, and the Politics of Appeasement).
More than any other human being on Earth, Obama is responsible for Biden’s insulting and perilous presence on the center stage of American history in this supremely dangerous moment. Joe was a calamitously awful and blundering presidential candidate in 1987-88 and again in 2007-08 – and that was before his never-nimble mind began so obviously deteriorating. So great thanks are due to Booker T. Obama, the deeply conservative multi-millionaire neoliberal who recently convinced NBA players to rescind their righteous decision to stop entertaining white Amerika as long as it keeps murdering and maiming Black people and civil rights protester. (Obama, by the way, hopes to be an NBA part-owner one day).
Obama tells young Americans that “the best way to protest is to vote” but does his best to make sure that the only voting options are on the table are far to the right of majority public opinion. His egregious affront of a 2020 contender has suggested that he would veto Medicare for All if it come to his desk as president. So what if that urgently needed program (whose necessity is clear as day in the COVID era) is backed by 7 in 10 Americans now?
Obama and his fellow arrogant elites atop the Inauthentic Opposition (the late Sheldon Wolin’s excellent term for the Democratic Party) trumpet Biden’s “empathy.” So what if Biden matches his long racist, corporatist, and imperial record by saying that he has “no empathy, give me a break”(!) for the plight of Millennial Americans who are inheriting a savagely unequal, racist, and environmentally unsustainable world that he and the rest of the nation’s permanent oligarchic political class (POPC) have spent their corrupt careers making.
No wonder Biden’s is far behind Trump when it comes to the enthusiasm felt by his backers.
The battleground states are already tightening, predictably enough. Trump might win flat out (with critical help from the usual right-wing and racist voter suppression and the openly anti-democratic, Red State-favoring Electoral College system), without having to take the election to the courts.
Electoralist Sheep Dogging vs. Revolution
That said, it is still recommended that people vote “for” Biden if an election is held next November (Trump has already floated the prospect of suspending the vote and clearly possesses no moral inhibitions about doing anything he feels necessary to stay in power). Anyone who says they are on the left but wants the fascist pig Trump back for a second term is making a terrible mistake. Anyone on the left who can’t take two minutes to make some little marks to try to block the horrific fascist Trump with the horrible neoliberal corporatist Biden needs to re-think.
I’ve voted for Left third and fourth parties and candidates forever but this is no time for Judas Goat/sheep-dog ballot-fetishism. This is not time to channel folks into a ruling-class electoral set-up with the childish notion that people’s politics is about voting for 2 minutes once every 1,460 days. If folks want presidential voting to be about something other than picking the least fully fascist of the two horrible capitalist-imperialist candidates, then maybe they’d like to organize and get in the streets to participate in a revolution to create popular sovereignty —- power to the people —- in America. The reigning U.S. party and elections system is a rotten, dollar-drenched, corporate-managed and fake-democratic shit-show that cancels Left candidates in advance (talk about “cancel culture”!). The revolution we desperately require would include a constitutional overhaul to create the kind of electoral politics that would reflect majority left opinion — an electoral politics worth participating beyond trying to block the most fascistic of the two parties and candidates.
We do not have such an electoral politics in the US right now. It would take a mass popular rebellion to get such a politics.
We need a sustained mass uprising, not candidates and politicians. Elections held under the current U.S. system cannot fix this mess. That system was designed (remarkably enough) by and for 18th Century slaveholders and merchant capitalists for whom democracy was the ultimate nightmare and liberty was equated with the “rights of property.” The corporate order that consolidated 130 years after the U.S. Founding swallowed the 1787 charter and turned it to its own authoritarian 20th and 21st Century purposes.
Cornel West: Vote “for” Joe but Don’t Lie for Him or Endorse Him
That said, the Trumpenstein represents a form of class-race-gender rule wherein those who want to organize for social justice and democratic transformation get fired, shamed, murdered, maimed, tortured, and detained. If you think I’m lying, just help it get a second term and watch what happens.
Biden? He’s absurd. Reject him and then try to elect his sorry ass. If he sneaks in (I’m not betting on that for reasons given above), then fight him and the whole damn system that gave rise to him, Trump, Obama, and to the rest of the POPC. It’s like the great Left moral and political leader Dr. Cornel West recently said on CNN: vote “for” the neoliberal mass incarcerationists Joe Biden and Kamala Harris but don’t lie for them. West will vote “for” them, but he won’t endorse them.
Avoiding a Speeding Lawless Truck is Not a World View
To denounce this advice – a tiny part of the politics that matters most – as “Lesser Evilism” is a bad mistake. That pejorative phrase (which I have used for decades and used in my latest book) foolishly makes a tactical and defensive 2 minute-once every-1,460-days move into a world view, an “ism.” And that is absurd: trying to use the damaged American ballot to help get rid of a fascist monster is not an ideology or a philosophy or a world view. It’s a defensive tactic, nothing more. If I jump back and pull others back onto the curb to get myself and others away from a speeding truck driven by a sociopathic madman my world view does not become Curbism. That a tactical voting decision could be called an “ism” is indicative of how pathetically hyper-partisan and electoralist US political culture has become.
My only “ism” is revolutionary socialism. Trump and Trumpism are fascist, virulently racist, pandemicist, sexist, and eco-exterminist. Why would any sane human being want them returned to the most powerful and potentially apocalyptic office in the history of the species?
Leaving the Current Regime in Power Until January 20, 2021 is Totally Irresponsible
The point is to remove Trump and his sick, racist, eco-exterminist, nativist, sexist, and fascist regime by any means possible, preferably with a mass popular movement that goes far beyond anything the Dems would ever call for and continues beyond Trump to challenge the entire capitalist and imperialist order that brought us to the current catastrophic Trump moment. If some electoralist “radical” poseur tells you that you have “sold out” or “lost your integrity” because you will take two damn minutes out of your total political life to contribute to the possible removal of a demented fascist (see below for elaboration) from the executive branch of world history’s most powerful nation, tell them that they are engaged in dysfunctional ballot fetishism. You have NOT compromised your commitment to social justice and popular democracy beyond the rule of capital, empire, patriarchy, and white supremacism because you see the need to step back on to the sidewalk when a speeding fascist truck comes barreling down the street with no respect for normal constitutional traffic laws.
Hyper-electoralist and partisan sheep doggery is not limited to major parties. Third and fourth parties do it too. Voting takes two minutes once every two or four years. All the quadrennial drama and intra-leftist bloodshed about what to do or not do for (again) two damn minutes in response to the badly limited choices on offer from the American elections and party system is misplaced. If you are interested in a real democracy, get over it, take two minutes to get rid of a fascist. and get your feet in the street.
Tell your “radical” electoralist scolds two other things. First, the Democratic Party poses most effectively and deceptively as an organization of popular opposition (it is of course no such thing) when it is out of the White House. It is most effectively exposed as corporate, imperialist, eco-cidal, patriarchal, fascistic, and white supremacist when it holds the White House. This point is too rarely made in intra-left electoral debates. If you loathe the Democratic Party, as any serious lefty does with good reason, and want its true nature clearly revealed, then you should prefer it in, not out of office before the revolution.
Second, and most important, it’s long past time for millions of us to get in the streets and stay there. Refuse Fascism (RF) is correctly calling for sixty days of popular struggle (see below) to remove the fascist Trump-Pence regime as soon as humanly possible.
This whole thing of leaving administrations in for 4 or 8 years no matter how awful they are is insane. “After weeks of encouraging people to get tested if they may have been exposed to COVID-19,” ABC News reported last week, “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abruptly changed course this week and is now telling the public testing might not be necessary. The change in guidance could dramatically decrease the number of tests conducted in the U.S. at a time when public health officials have said they are seriously concerned about young people without symptoms transmitting the virus.”
That’s right: COVID-45 (Trump) pressured the CDC to tell people they don’t have to get tested for COVID-19 unless they are symptomatic – total defiance of medical science, for God’s sake. The entire Republican Convention insanely proceeded under the assumption that the coronavirus has gone away – this as we are careening towards 300,000 dead from the pandemic by November.
And now the freak in the White House is channeling a baseless QAnon conspiracy theory claiming that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data that indicated only 6% of people listed as having died from COVID-19 “actually died” from the virus.
Trump is deliberately and willfully fanning the pandemic.
That is insane and deadly.
A hurricane (Laura) whose high intensity was fueled by the fossil fuel-driven climate change whose existence Trump denies has just led to the release of cancer-causing industrial chemicals that corporations no longer have to secure in ecologically safe ways because of Trump’s war on environmental regulation. Meanwhile, the capitalogenic global warming that Trump denies is fueling historic wildfires across drought-plagued California.
Trump’s (anti-) environmental policies and practices are insane and deadly.
Trump’s federal fascist paramilitaries have recently swept up civil and human rights activists into unmarked vans at gunpoint in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a 17-year-old fascist militia member shot two protesters with the encouragement of Trump and the Republican Party. The shootings came one day after the Party of Trump’s Republican National Convention prominently featured two wealthy white terrorists who were indicted for criminally brandishing an assault weapon and a pistol at Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis earlier his summer. The right-wing is making a hero out of the Kenosha Guard killer Kyle Von Rittenhausen. Trump approves of the teen’s murderous actions. And now, after another street-fighting fatality (this time of a white-supremacist) in Portland, Trump is encouraging armed white-nationalist thugs to attack a great American city. Trump is throwing gasoline on the flames in embattled Kenosha by bringing his racist hate-tour to that troubled town today.
That is insane and deadly.
A tip of the hat to the Socialist Rifle Association (SRA): “One of the warning signs that a county is tipping form democracy into open fascism,” the SRA writes, “is the open collaboration between police and right-wing paramilitaries. This phenomenon could be observed in Germany, Spain, Italy, Chile, Indonesia and elsewhere. Now it has happened here.”
Indeed. (My only quibble here is the suggestion that the U.S. before Trump was a “democracy.” It was and is no such thing: it is a clear corporate and financial plutocracy, as a plethora of empirical investigation demonstrates. Trump’s election was a symptom of this harsh reality.)
Get over it, comrades: this is fascism. The notion of leaving the fascist Trump-Pence-Miller-Barr regime in power until January 20, 2021 (assuming it can or will be removed through “normal” constitutional means then) is insane. It’s long past time for a mass and sustained rebellion to collapse the regime as soon as humanly possible. How many COVID-19 deaths by next Inauguration Day, half a million? How many more victims of racist police state, vigilante, and militia violence in the next five months? How many more environmental regulations shredded? How many more calls for racist violence from the mouth and Twitter feed of the wannabe fascist dictator Trump?
The sooner we act the better. By election day it may be too late. Trump has no intention of leaving and anyone who thinks the Secret Service and/or U.S. military command are going to oust him as he mounts a court challenge to an outcome that doesn’t go his way is engaged in wishful and magical thinking. A sustained mass outpouring may be required before the event to create the possibility for having a reasonably fair election insofar as such a thing is possible in the deeply distorted U.S. party and elections system.
It’s time to get past all this “it can’t happen here” disbelief about what this fascist presidency and its allies within and outside government are ready, willing, and able to do.