A Sleepy Interregnum? The Inauthentic Opposition Party of Filibusted Appeasement

Photograph Source: Mike Norton – CC BY 2.0

The Next Civil War

The Trump Republicans are a neofascist party. They sought to subvert and then nullify a presidential election under cult command of an authoritarian racist who encouraged talk of “civil war” and instigated an attack on the US Capitol in an open attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory on the grounds of a Nazi-style Big Lie. Even after the attempted coup, which sent Congresspersons of both parties and Trump’s own Vice President running for their lives, the preponderant majority of Congressional Republicans supported the Big Lie, refusing to sign off on Biden’s clear Electoral College victory. A majority of Republicans believe the absurd stolen election lie.[1]

Four in ten Republicans polled by the American Enterprise Institute after the Attack on the Capitol supported the use of violence to achieve political ends. Eight in ten Republicans thought the American political system is “stacked against conservatives and people with traditional values.” A majority of Republicans agreed with this statement: “The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” This willingness to undertake and/or tolerate right-wing political violence is fueled by a preposterous sense of white and Christian victimization at the hands of “radical liberal” globalist elites including dedicated “Marxists” like Nancy Pelosi. Fifty percent of Republicans absurdly believe that something called “Antifa” was behind the January 6 Attack on the Capitol.

Five months later, the GOP still belongs to its malignant cult leader Trump. It has expelled the right-wing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from the number three position in the House Republican caucus. Her sin: insufficient loyalty to the Fearless Leader. Congressional Republicans opposes a bipartisan commission to investigate the putsch attempt, which led to at least seven deaths. The malevolent monster in Mar a Lago will decide who his party runs or federal and even some state elections. His choices are all about allegiance to Him.

State election officials who certified Biden’s victory are being replaced by Trump loyalists. By early April of 2021, Republican legislators had introduced 361 bills to restrict voting rights in 47 states, marking a 43% increase in just a month, with 55 voter suppression bills moving through the legislatures in 24 states. These are clear Amerikaner-fascist efforts to quash non-white and urban votes in response to the Big “election fraud” Lie and a sense that white Americans are being endangered and “replaced” by nonwhites due to demographic change.

With support from demented white Amerikaners who cling to such beliefs, Republifascist state legislators across the country are advancing and passing droves of arch-reactionary bills meant to suppress Black and LatinX voting, criminalize liberal and left protest, undermine COVID-19 protections, and prevent educators from talking about racism in American history past and present.

That’s the GOP today, still very much a threat to carry out a more successful coup attempt in 2024-25. As Damon Linker notes in a recent commentary titled “The Threat of Civil War Didn’t End with the Trump Presidency”:

“A significant chunk of the American electorate now resides in an alternative universe of facts about the nation’s elections while continuing to share the same political space with the rest of the country. What might that entail four and eight years from now? Let’s assume for the sake of a thought experiment that the 2024 election pits Joe Biden against Trump or a Trumpist Republican, that Biden prevails in the popular vote by a healthy margin, that the Electoral College is decided by three states controlled by Republican officials where Biden prevailed by just a couple of percentage points, and that the GOP controls a majority of the state delegations to the House of Representatives. In this scenario, the three key state legislatures, citing unsubstantiated stories of election fraud, refuse to certify the official slate of Democratic electors and appoint an alternative slate ready to vote for the Republican candidate.”

“This would throw the Electoral College into chaos, requiring the House to assume responsibility for the final outcome. Republicans are favored to take control of the House in 2022, but already they control a majority of the state delegations. That will very likely still be true on Jan. 6, 2025. Which means that they could declare the Republican the victor even if Biden wins the popular vote and the Electoral College — though they would of course claim to be acting on the conviction that in reality Biden lost the key states and so also fell short of the required electoral votes….As the incumbent who actually won the election and already holds the powers of the presidency, Biden would be in a strong position to appeal to a majority of the population to support his efforts to remain in office, as well as to the leadership of key institutions, including the military, police, executive branch departments and agencies, and big business. But this doesn’t mean that sentiment within these institutions would be unanimous. A sizable minority of the population as well as elements within these institutions might break from the president and support his Republican rival instead. How far would that opposition go? Would the bulk of the population relent and accept Biden’s victory, leaving dissenters vastly outnumbered? Or would it be a closer call, with the minority feeling emboldened in its rejection of the president and his purported victory?”

“That would be the most precarious moment for American democracy since the election of 1860. But it’s nothing compared to what could happen four years later, in the aftermath of the 2028 election. If we assume Biden prevails in 2024 by a wide-enough margin that the country avoids the kind of scenario laid out above and then remains president until the end of his second term, we would be facing an election with no incumbent president able to use the momentum of his already established powers to steady the body politic. That could produce a situation in which a still-narrowly divided country finds it impossible to reach consensus on which of the two candidates is the rightful and legitimate victor of the contest to succeed Biden. Congress, state governments, the military, the police, business leaders, the media — all of them could be deeply and sharply split over which side to support…That’s the direction in which we seem to be headed.”

We’re all looking forward to our next great quadrennial electoral extravaganzas!

“America[ns’ First”

The Democrats are part of the dystopian trajectory. They are the GOP’s corporate neoliberal inauthentic opposition – a neo-Weimar party of appeasement.

All too privately, top Democrats know that the other major party is a fascistic freak show. Obama used the F-word in a fall 2016 phone conversation with Hillary Clinton’s lame centrist vice presidential Tim Kaine. “You’ve got to keep a fascist out of the White House,” he told Kaine. Hillary overheard this reference and agreed.

Both Hillary and Obama quickly responded to the diseased orange reptile’s election victory with speeches welcoming the beast to power and honoring how, in Hillary words, “our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transition of power.” It’s all good, Obama assured Americans the day after, reminding those who might recoil that “we’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first, we’re Americans first. We’re patriots first. We all want what’s best for this country.” As Masha Gessen wrote at the time:

“It was as though Donald Trump had not, in the course of his campaign, promised to deport US citizens, promised to create a system of surveillance targeted specifically at Muslim Americans, promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico, advocated war crimes, endorsed torture, and repeatedly threatened to jail Hillary Clinton herself. It was as though those statements and many more could be written off as so much campaign hyperbole and now that the campaign was over, Trump would be eager to become a regular, rule-abiding politician of the pre-Trump era (emphasis added)”[2]

Obama didn’t utter a single public word revealing his private and accurate understanding that Trump was a fascist during the 45th POTUS’s terrible reign. Indeed, Obama would barely mention Trump by name over the next four-plus years, during which time Obama climbed into the nation’s super-opulent oligarchy as reward for his eight-plus years of dedicated service to the big money backers and bankrollers who put him into the U.S. Senate and the White House.

In December of 2017, Barack “America[ns] First” Obama made his first major public appearance since Trump’s election at the posh Economic Club of Chicago. It was a fit setting given how his political rise had depended on his connections with elite sections of the Chicagoland bourgeoisie.[3]

“You Have to Tend to this Garden of Democracy”

“You have,” Obama told his business class audience, “to tend to this garden of democracy. Otherwise,” Obama warned, “things can fall apart fairly quickly.” By “fall apart fairly quickly,” Obama clearly meant that the country could descend into authoritarianism and even, though he did not use the word, fascism.

Obama made an indirect but unmistakable reference to the rise of Hitler’s Third Reich. “We’ve seen societies where that happens,” Obama said, adding this: “Now, presumably there was a ballroom here in Vienna in the late 1920s or ’30s that looked pretty sophisticated and seemed as if it, filled with the music and art and literature that was emerging, would continue into perpetuity. And then 60 million people died. An entire world was plunged into chaos…So you got to pay attention—and vote!”[4] It was quite an historical reference, rendered more ominous by Obama saying, “here in Vienna.” This curious comment, made to Chicago burghers primed to feast on Trump’s plutocratic tax cut for the wealthy Few in December of 2017, was the closest Obama would come during Trump’s presidency to telling the world what he privately knew to be true – that the nation’s 45th president was a fascist.

It took no small Orwellian chutzpah for Barack von Obombdenburg to pontificate, professor-like, about this from afar, as if he had nothing to do with it. The last thing the deeply conservative arch-neoliberal corporatist and imperialist Obama did during his presidency was “tend to [the supposed American] garden of democracy.” His two elitist Citigroup and Council on Foreign Relations administrations channeled corporate and financial ruling class power in ways that helped alienate millions of Americans and suppress Democratic voters’ passions by rendering his and his party’s progressive rhetoric and imagery transparently inauthentic. Far from cultivating popular self-rule, the Obama White House gave the U.S. populace what William Greider memorably called “a blunt lesson about power, who has it and who doesn’t.” Americans, Greider wrote, “watched Washington rush to rescue the very financial interests that caused the [economic] catastrophe. They learned that government has plenty of money to spend when the right people want it. ‘Where’s my bailout?’ became the rueful punch line at lunch counters and construction sites nationwide. Then to deepen the insult, people watched as establishment forces re-launched their campaign for ‘entitlement reform’—a euphemism for whacking Social Security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid.”[5]

The savage upward concentration of American wealth and income continued unabated under Obama, who enlisted the Department of Homeland Security in the liquidation of the populist Occupy Wall Street movement.[6]

Obama’s “blunt lesson,” consistent with the equally Wall Street-friendly Bill Clinton presidency[7] combined with the infamously uninspiring, vapid, curiously candidate-centered, policy-bereft, and corporately super-funded Hillary Clinton campaign[8] to depress Democratic voter turnout in 2016. It wasn’t that the “populist” Trump “stole” the Democrats’ progressive thunder and working- and lower-class base in 2016. It was that the Democrats shrank that base through captivity to the wealthy Few. The corporate-imperial Democrats’ elitist “progressive neoliberalism” (to use historian Nancy Fraser’s oxymoronic phrase)[9] demobilized broad swaths of the multi-racial working-class electorate on whose turnout Democrats depended to overcome both Republicans’ advantages in the U.S. presidential Electoral College[10] and the dystopian de-politicization, mass-consumerist infantilization, and atomized individuation[11] of much of the corporate-managed populace.

“Sort of Like Goebbels”

Now we have Joe Biden, Obama’s choice over the actual progressive Bernie Sanders, in the White House. Biden also knows that Trump and his gang are neofascists. Biden’s campaign launch video in the spring of 2019 showed chilling scenes from the white-supremacist neo-fascist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August of 2017 – the haunting “Jews will not replace us” rally that led Trump to suggest moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and civil rights advocates. Biden reasonably charged Trump with giving an okay to neo-Nazis “chanting the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the 1930s.”

The implied reference to historical fascism and the rise of Hitler was clear to those with the knowledge to see hear it. But most Americans lack that knowledge and Biden said nothing to relate Charlottesville specifically to the Nazi Party and the rise of fascist authoritarianism and white nationalism in 20th Century interwar Europe.

The same deletion characterized Biden’s subsequent likening of Trump to “Goebbels”[12], the Nazi Party master propagandist. Saying that Trump was “sort of like Goebbels” last September[13], Biden never explicitly linked Trump to the Nazi Party or to contemporary neo-fascism. The F-word has never passed his lips or Twitter account in public discourse even as his references betrayed his and his team’s private understanding of the connection.

Simon Says: Okay with Being Filibusted

Now he’s got the bully pulpit and the enforcement power of the most powerful office on Earth. What’s he going to do about what Coco Das has called “our Nazi problem”? Where is the determined White House and Department of Justice effort to put the white nationalist pandemo-fascist monster Trump behind bars for crimes that include pandemicide and trying to do what the Southern Confederacy did in 1861: “nullify,” in historian Bruce Levine’s words, “not a single law, but the results of an entire presidential election”? Where are his and his party’s effort “to tend” – to use Obama’s late 2017 language – “to this [supposed] garden of democracy” before “things fall apart fairly quickly”? Where is the forthright advance of a genuinely progressive social-democratic agenda in accord with longstanding majority public opinion in order to mobilize and sustain the populace against white nationalist reaction, reduce the nation’s shocking and savage levels of inequality (a key taproot of fascist movements), align U.S. politics and governance more seriously with the core democratic notion of “one person, one vote” and confront the biggest issue of our or any time – Ecocide, with climate change in the lead? Where is the presidential and Democratic Party courage to break with the idiotic, racist, and anti-democratic, arch-reactionary Senate filibuster, which makes it impossible to pass significant majority-backed House bills to protect and expand voting rights and re-relegalize union organizing and substantive collective bargaining? Where is the courage and decency to slash the imperialist and military-industrial Pentagon budget, which accounts for nearly half all global war spending and eats up more than half of federal discretionary spending, sucking up vast resources that need to be dedicated to feeding, clothing, healing, housing, educating, inspiring, and empowering billions of truly disadvantaged people at home and abroad – this while functioning as a massive public subsidy to high-tech corporations like Boeing and Raytheon? Where is the presidential and Democratic push to significantly redistribute wealth and power downward to We the People? Where is the presidential push to replace the domestic racist mass arrest, incarceration, and criminal branding and supervision police state with investment in the common good and social justice? Where is the strong bully pulpit call for statehood for Washington DC, which would help begin to counter the absurd overrepresentation of the nation’s most reactionary regions in the US senate, where Wyoming, home to less than 600,000 people, has as many Senators as California, home to nearly 40 million? Where is the call to expand the US Supreme Court, where an absurd right-wing super majority (6-3) holds a majority progressive nation absurdly hostage to a Christian white nationalist minority? Where is the Democratic challenge to absurd Supreme Court campaign finance rulings (chief Buckley v. Valeo [1976] and Citizens United [2010]) that help make U.S. elections a plutocratic “wealth primary” (to use onetime law students Jamie Raskin and John Bonifaz’s excellent language in the early 1990s)?

The House of Representatives has in its current session already passed two landmark liberal reform measures. HR1, the For the People Act, passed by the House last January and make by 67 percent of Americans, would curb voter suppression, ease voter registration, facilitate the casting of ballots, outlaw the ubiquitous partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, and significantly democratize the nation’s campaign finance laws. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO-Act), passed by the House last March 9th, would be the most significant pro-labor legislation passed since the New Deal. It is a wide-ranging, pro-worker rewrite of labor law that would prohibit employers from holding mandatory meetings for the purpose of counteracting labor organization, strengthen the right of employees to join a  union, permit unions advocate to encourage “secondary” (sympathy and solidarity) strikes, weaken the anti-union  “right-to-work” (Taft-Hartley) laws that exist in 27 U.S. states, empower the National Labor Relations Board to fine employers for violations of labor law, and grant compensation to workers harmed by such violations. The PRO-Act would essentially re-legalize union organizing in the U.S., where extreme Neoliberal-era economic and political inequality both reflects and draws fuel from the business class’s sheer decimation of the labor movement.

Great. Winning passage of these two key and other popular liberal and progressive measures in Congress is impossible unless Democrats do away with or work around the Senate filibuster, which permits a white nationalist minority – the GOP, representing the nation’s most reactionary regions, voters, and funders – to block almost everything that isn’t a tax or spending bill by requiring 60 votes for passage. Even without the absurd, arch-reactionary filibuster barrier, it’s not clear that the Democrats can get a Senate majority for the We the People and PRO Acts thanks to the reactionary obstructionism of asinine white conservative Democrats led by the racist and eco-cidal obscenity Joe Manchin (Republicrat – WV)

The U.S. Senate, by the way, is preposterous even without the filibuster or the arcane office of the “parliamentarian,” behind whose absurd ruling Biden hid to drop his call for a mere $15-an-hour minimum wage. White right-wing Wyoming has less than 600,000 people. Multicultural liberal California has nearly 40 million people. Both states have two U.S. Senators. The absurdly under-represented state of California’s population-to-Senator ratio is nearly 20 million to 1. Rotten right-wing borough Wyoming’s is 288,425 to 1.

Speaking of boroughs, if the New York City borough of Brooklyn had the same popular-to-Senator ration as Wyoming, it would have 9 U.S. Senators.

But, hey, 18th Century Slaveowners’ Constitutional Simon Says!

But I digress. If the Dems won’t go after the reactionary filibuster – and all indications are that they won’t – one must wonder if decent House bills like the We the People and PRO Acts are just progressive-sounding posing, passed to help Biden and Nancy Pelosi look democratic to voters when top Democrats are fully aware that the measures can’t get past the deeply unrepresentative upper body of Congress. One can almost hear Democratic White House and Congressional staffers re-assuring corporate lobbyists and election funders not to worry about the labor rights measure: “we had to get behind it to mollify our populist base, but it won’t make it past the Senate. It’s all good. We look forward to your continued support.”

Supreme Court expansion? The nation’s absurdly powerful high court is in the hands of the neofascist minority and therefore possesses the power to negate one progressive or merely liberal measure after another. Something must be done about that, no? Biden has every constitutional right to expand the court, just as the Democrats have every constitutional right to blow up the filibuster.

Fugghetabout it. Biden has no interest. He recently punted by appointing a blue-ribbon commission to study the matter – the classic blow off.

In a similar vein, his Justice Department has little interest in prosecuting the orange pandemic fascist Frankenstein’s monster, who essentially murdered hundreds of thousands of American Covid-19 victims and who tried to subvert and cancel a presidential election – and who continues to play the Goebbels card with the Big Steal Lie. Remember Obama’s comment on why there would no federal investigation and prosecution of George W. Bush for implementing torture and launching the monumentally criminal, imperialist, and mass-murderous invasion of Iraq on thoroughly false pretenses: “we need to look forward as opposed to looking back.” (Imagine John Wayne Gacy’s attorney advancing that an argument for letting his client go free. And remember: Gacy killed 33 people while Dubya and his team killed at least a million Iraqis).

“If Joe Biden was Really a Progressive New Deal Type”

Liberal-centrist blowhards like Jonathan Alter[14] and Nicholas Kristof[15] have no business marketing Joe Status Quo Biden as some kind of liberal and progressive champion of a reinvigorated public sector and a new Deal. If the longstanding corporatist Biden were any such president, he wouldn’t just be saying nice things about measures like the We the People and the PRO-Acts. He’d be connecting presidential support for these and other urgently requited measures like gun reform, police reform, seriously progressive taxation, and a giant green public jobs program to a concerted push to end the absurd racist filibuster, to grant statehood to Washington DC (which has more people than Wyoming and no voting representation in Congress), and to expand the size of the Supreme Court. He’d be encouraging masses to take to the streets and public squares to force change from the bottom up. He’d take a scalpel to the bloated U.S. war and empire budget, which cancels social justice and democracy and environmental sanity at home and abroad. He’d cancel the many hundreds of billions of dollars of military assistance Washington grants to the judeo-fascist apartheid and terror state of Israel and the blood-soaked Saudi monarchy, transferring that money instead to feeding, clothing, housing, and vaccinating the poor – and not just in the U.S. (Washington could start with it and Tel Aviv and Riyad’s victims in Gaza and Yemen).

As my fellow left historian and journalist Terry Thomas writes:

“If Biden was really a progressive new Deal type, we would be talking about an updated Glass-Steagall Act (real regulation of the financial sector), a substantial wealth tax and heavily progressive income and corporate tax system, single-payer health insurance, and perhaps as important as anything here: the PRO Act (which would serve as an updated Wagner Act). We are getting none of this, except a little mealy-mouthed support from Sleepy on the PRO Act. Hell, he couldn’t get a $15 minimum wage through. And of course, Biden would be pushing the Green New Deal, a complete revamping of our energy system. All this stuff together could amount to an updated New Deal, but we are not going to get it. Fact is Sleepy doesn’t want that stuff. This infrastructure bill, like the stimulus package, is just a lot of government money being pumped into the private sector. There’s no reform of the private sector itself at all.”

Biden is doing little if any of what a real progressive would do in the White House. But he and his party are continuing to talk about their desire to reach out in a spirit of bipartisanship – translation: appeasement – to a neofascist party that votes as a militantly partisan white-nationalist bloc against even the mildest reforms – even against the setting up of a militantly bipartisan commission meant to investigate the attempted fascist putsch of January 6, 2021. The dismal Weimar Dems bent over backwards to make their proposed commission bipartisan, remarkably enough given the fact that most Republicans in Congress voted against the certification of Biden’s election just hours after the murderous fascist assault on Congress.

And now Biden has hacked $600 billion off his infrastructure bill to placate the neofascist party, which absurdly calls him a “socialist” and “Marxist” (I am both of those supposedly terrible things, by the way).

“Give Me a Break…. Nothing Will Fundamentally Change”

Be happy, of course, that Biden passed his opening if inadequate stimulus bill and ramped up vaccinations but understand that his “Keynesian” and public health measures and likely forthcoming whittled down infrastructure bills are no more – along with his giant Pentagon (empire and war) budget – than what is elementarily required to shore up the U.S, imperial order in the wake of the 2007-08 and Covid-19 recessions. As Ashley Smith notes in The Tempest:

“…for all the liberal triumphalism and right-wing panic, Biden’s Keynesian project is completely inadequate to redress the deep systemic inequalities of U.S. capitalism and halt, let alone reverse, climate change. While the American Rescue Plan was an unprecedented and immediate stimulus to revive consumer demand and bolster state and local government budgets, the remaining $6 trillion in for infrastructure, jobs, and social spending is…actually very small, especially considering that most of it is spread out over eight years. Biden’s proposed expansion of welfare state spending will do little to mitigate the profound social inequalities of the U.S. As Susan Watkins argues, if enacted the plans will not even bring the U.S. welfare state up to the current level of those in Europe, which themselves have been ravaged by neoliberal cuts: ‘The American Rescue Plan is playing catch-up. U.S. unemployment benefits are desperately low by OECD standards—less than a tenth of the UK’s. As a proportion of GDP, social spending in France and Italy is some 50 percent higher than in the U.S. Public spending on American families is barely a quarter of German, French and British levels.’

The spending to address climate change pales in comparison to the $10 trillion allotted in the Green New Deal, does not match the scale of the crisis, and will do little to solve it. As the Center for Biological Diversity’s Brett Hartl argues, ‘Biden’s industry-friendly infrastructure plan squanders one of our last, best chances to stop the climate emergency. Instead of a Marshall Plan approach that moves our economy to renewable energy, it includes gimmicky subsidies for carbon capture, fantastically wishes the free market will save us, and fails to take crucial and ambitious steps toward phasing out fossil fuels. Biden has pledged to cut carbon emissions 50% and decarbonize our electricity sector but this proposal won’t even come close.’

Despite the corporate complaints about their increased tax burden, The New York Times points out that ‘if all of Biden’s proposed tax increases passed…the total federal tax rate on the wealthy would remain significantly lower than it was in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. It would also remain somewhat lower than during the mid-1990s.’ Finally, increased taxation will in no way alter the class structures of U.S. society. As Michael Roberts argues, “Because inequality of wealth stems from the concentration of the means of production and finance in the hands of a few; and because that ownership structure remains untouched, any increased taxes on wealth will fall short of irreversibly changing the distribution of wealth and income in modern societies.”

(Sorry to spend so much word count quoting a writer quoting other writers, but this was just too dead-on not to include)

Surprised at how tepid and limited the 46th president’s supposed neo-New Deal break with Neoliberalism is? You shouldn’t be. The longtime corporatist and faux blue collar Democrat Joe Biden told wealthy Manhattan election investors in 2019 that that he would not “demonize” the rich and promised and that “no one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change[16] when he became president – a noxious thing to be caught saying in a nation where (even before the upwardly distributive Covid-19 recession) the top thousandth had as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent He meant it. A year before that he proclaimed that he had “no empathy, give me a break”[17] for the plight of Millennials in the environmentally exterminist and racist-sexist plutocracy he’d helped create over four decades of Senatorial service to the rich and powerful. He later suggested as a candidate that he’d veto Medicare for All – supported (in principle, at least) by 7 in 10 Americans[18] — if it came to his desk as president.[19] Candidate Biden repeatedly distanced himself from the urgently required Green New Deal proposed by actual progressive Democrats, considering it too expensive and radical.

Breathing Room

I voted “for” Biden last November for two reasons, neither of which had anything to do with thinking that he would be an agent of progressive change. The first reason was simply to gain myself and others some literal and figurative breathing space beyond the endless madness of “the most dangerous criminal in human history.” We needed the insane Trump Covfefe COVID-19 knee off our neck is we were going to have any chance of fighting for the revolutionary change we need. (Any “leftist” who didn’t see the need to fire the Malignant Tangerine Nazi – and who made the unforgivable decision to call those on the Left who did see that basic need Democratic Party collaborators – became my sworn lifelong enemy last year. There are no dunce caps big or permanent enough for neo-Thalmannite “radical” clowns who couldn’t or wouldn’t acknowledge that Trump had to be replaced with his only viable electoral opponent).

The second reason was to contribute to the presentation of a necessary historical object lesson on the necessity for rebellion, organization, and revolution beneath and beyond the savagely time-staggered big money, big media, major party, candidate-centered electoral spectacles that our capitalist and imperialist owners and managers sell as the only politics that counts. Again, and again, Americans need to learn that (a) unnecessary socially and politically constructed misery and oppression persists after you vote corporate and imperial Democrats into nominal power and (b) this misery and oppression is rooted in the very core nature of the interlinked capitalist and American systems, not just the flaws of politicians who can supposedly be pushed to “do the right thing” by citizens. The “nice cop” Democrats are best able to pose as something they aren’t – a party of popular opposition to concentrated wealth and power – and to turn everything into a big once every 2 or 4 year get out of the vote project – when they are out of office. They are best exposed for what they really are – another Ecocidal ruling class party of corporate, financial sector, and military oppression – when they hold nominal power and more clearly own the stink of the system they pretend to oppose or at least to reform.

We must not be fooled by Status Quo Joe, who has “surprised” some elite Left thinkers with his seeming willingness to embrace progressive ideas. Give me a break: he meant what he said to the deep-pockets election investors in Manhattan two years ago. The unelected class dictatorship of capitalism-imperialism will permit no serious or fundamental tinkering with the authoritarian system.

Just because the U.S. class dictatorship (quite happy to leave intact a slaveowners’ charter from the age of Louis XVI), isn’t quite ready for Door #1, open fascist rule, don’t look for Door #2, neo-New Deal reformist social democracy, anytime soon. No, we are still getting slammed in the face with Door #3, a neoliberal corporate-imperial authoritarianism that cancels #2 while setting us up for a harsher version of #1 in the not-so-distant future.

What we really need is Door # 4: eco-socialist transformation. We don’t need another rebellion; we need a revolution. Nothing less can save us from a very dark future. Fascism, strange as it sounds to say, isn’t the worst menace afoot. The profits system isn’t done until it has cancelled livable ecology once and for all. Truth be told it lives on even after that, “catabolically” riding humanity down the drain (see this excellent if dark reflection from my fellow Counterpuncher Craig Collins) of something very much like extinction.


+1. Harry Enton, “Polls Show a Majority of Republicans Mistakenly Think the 2020 Election Wasn’t Legitimate,” CNN, April 11, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/11/politics/voting-restrictions-analysis/index.html

+2. Masha Gessen, “Autocracy: Rules for Survival,” New York Review of Books, November 10, 2016, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/11/10/trump-election-autocracy-rules-for-survival/

+3. Street, Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics, 1-58.

+4. Ian Schwartz, “Obama Warning Compares Untended Democracy to Nazi Germany,” Real Clear Politics, December 8, 2017, https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/12/08/obama_warning_compares_untended_democracy_to_nazi_germany.html

+5. William Greider, “Obama Asked Us to Speak Out, But Is He Listening?” Washington Post, 22 March, 2009, https://www.realclearpolitics.com/2009/03/22/obama_told_us_to_speak_out_but_is_he_listening_210756.html

+6. Dave Lindorff, “Did the White House Direct the Police Crackdown on Occupy?,” Counterpunch, May 14, 2012, https://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/14/did-the-white-house-direct-the-police-crackdown-on-occupy/

+7. Robert Pollin, Contours of Descent: US Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity (New York: Verso, 2005), 21-47; Jeff Faux, The Global Class War (New York: Wiley, 2006), 4, 30-31, 47-48; Street, They Rule, 81, 100, 122, 133; Charles Ferguson, Predator Nation (New York: Crown, 2012),39-52, 300.

+8. T. Ferguson, P. Jorgenson, and Jie Chen, “Industrial Structure and Party Competition in the Age of Hunger Games: Donald Trump and the 2016 Presidential Election,” Institute for New Economic Thinking (January 2018), https://www.ineteconomics.org/uploads/papers/Ferg-Jorg-Chen-INET-Working-Paper-Industrial-Structure-and-Party-Competition-in-an-Age-of-Hunger-Games-8-Jan-2018.pdf

+9. The somewhat oxymoronic phrase belongs to the left historian Nancy Fraser. “In its U.S. form,” Fraser writes, “progressive neoliberalism is an alliance of mainstream currents of new social movements (feminism, anti-racism, multiculturalism, and LGBTQ rights), on the one side, and high-end ‘symbolic’ and service-based business sectors (Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood), on the other. In this alliance, progressive forces are effectively joined with the forces of cognitive capitalism, especially financialization. However unwittingly, the former lends their charisma to the latter. Ideals like diversity and empowerment, which could in principle serve different ends, now gloss policies that have devastated manufacturing and what were once middle-class lives…Progressive neoliberalism developed in the United States over the last three decades and was ratified with Bill Clinton’s election in 1992. Clinton was the principal engineer and standard-bearer of the ‘New Democrats,’ the U.S. equivalent of Tony Blair’s ‘New Labor.’ In place of the New Deal coalition of unionized manufacturing workers, African Americans, and the urban middle classes, he forged a new alliance of entrepreneurs, suburbanites, new social movements, and youth, all proclaiming their modern, progressive bona fides by embracing diversity, multiculturalism, and women’s rights. Even as it endorsed such progressive notions, the Clinton administration courted Wall Street. Turning the economy over to Goldman Sachs, it deregulated the banking system and negotiated the free-trade agreements that accelerated deindustrialization. What fell by the wayside was the Rust Belt—once the stronghold of New Deal social democracy, and now the region that delivered the electoral college to Donald Trump” (emphasis added). Nancy Fraser, “The End of Progressive Neoliberalism,” Dissent, January 2, 2017, https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/progressive-neoliberalism-reactionary-populism-nancy-fraser


+10. Paul Street, “The Real Constitutional Crisis is the Constitution,” Counterpunch, November 8, 2019, https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/11/08/the-real-constitutional-crisis-the-constitution/

+11. Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated (Princeton, 2008)

+12. Federico Finchelstein, “Joe Biden is Right on Trump’s Lies: He is Indeed Like Goebbels,” Domani, November 9, 2020, https://www.editorialedomani.it/politica/mondo/joe-biden-is-right-on-trumps-lies-he-is-indeed-like-joseph-goebbels-pm2uxzmw

+13. Evan Semones, “’He’s Sort of Like Goebbels,’” Politico, September 26, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/26/joe-biden-trump-joseph-goebbels-422047?fbclid=IwAR0uAqYOAkUaSrETAmeeS5c4ulYkN74p-yZ8L8v2a0pwKf7JWOfkz2AfrPc

+14. Jonathan Alter, “How FDR’s Heir is Changing the Country,” New York Times, 12 April, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/12/opinion/biden-fdr-new-deal.html

+15. Nicholas Kristof, “Biden is Electrifying America Like FDR,” New York Times, 1 May, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/01/opinion/sunday/biden-fdr-americans.html

+16. Igor Derysh, “Joe Biden to Rich Donors: ‘Nothing Would Fundamentally Change if he was Elected,” Salon, June 19, 2019, https://www.salon.com/2019/06/19/joe-biden-to-rich-donors-nothing-would-fundamentally-change-if-hes-elected/

+17. Summer Meza, “Biden Doesn’t Want to Hear Millennials Complain: ‘Give Me a Break,’” Newsweek, November 13, 2017, https://www.newsweek.com/joe-biden-says-millennials-dont-have-it-tough-780348

+18. “Poll: 69 Percent of Voters Support Medicare for All,” The Hill, April 24, 2020, https://thehill.com/hilltv/what-americas-thinking/494602-poll-69-percent-of-voters-support-medicare-for-all

+19. Tucker Higgins, “Biden Suggests he Would Veto Medicare for All,” CNBC, March 10, 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/10/biden-says-he-wouldd-veto-medicare-for-all-as-coronavirus-focuses-attention-on-health.html

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