Dear Liberals: Stop Your Smug Celebration of the Midterms

Image by Manny Becerra.

Liberals and some progressives are feeling smug and self-satisfied over the mid-term elections.

How grotesque.

Yes, there was no red wave. The at least non-fascist major capitalist party, the Democrats, will keep the US Senate for two more years. MAGA candidates backed by the malignant narcissi-fascist Donald Trump did badly, something that is helping cost him support from leading Republican politicos and billionaire donors and raising questions about his viability as a 2024 presidential candidate. A bunch of ghastly election-denier/-stealer MAGA candidates vying for offices in charge of electoral processes and machinery (secretary of state, attorney general, and governor) lost in key contested states where they would have been able to monkey with the next presidential election.

Elections and Rule of Law are “Incidental” for the Amerikaner Base

Super, but guess what? In the United States as elsewhere, fascism is a ferocious and many-sided movement beneath and beyond elections. And our ugly Amerikaners love losing and being out of power. Electoral loss or stalemate doesn’t subdue or restrain them one bit. To the contrary, it feeds their sense of white-patriarchal-Christian-nationalist victimization, encouraging them to double down on conspiratorial madness and the use of violence to keep the ungodly liberal-“radical left” and nonwhite enemy at bay. Keep an eye out for escalated right wing insanity and mayhem.

In a brilliant post-midterm essay titled “Donald Trump is (Still) the President of White America,” Erin Aubry Kaplan makes a critical point worthy of lengthy quotation:

“Trump was, and continues to be, the chief executive not of a nation, or of the Republican Party, or even of a cult, but of a culture — namely a culture of white supremacy…This is actually worse than it sounds. Even very ‘woke’ Americans tend to see white supremacy as an isolated dynamic synonymous with racism, the ‘bad’ America. But what many people don’t realize is that white supremacy is a culture that is much broader and deeper than that. It is about racialized power, an assumed authority of white people (chiefly men) to set and enforce the social and moral order as they see fit, often in the service of values that on their face sound noble, like tradition or family…In this culture, the presidency, electoral politics, the Constitution, rule of law, democratic ideals, liberalism, decency — all are incidental. They can never matter as much as white peoples’ ultimate right to power.”

Yes. The nation’s not-so- “semi” fascist base isn’t chastened by mere election losses or (as in the 2022 “red ripple”) disappointments. It’s about white male power as such, in and of itself, with or without the niceties of bourgeois democracy and rule of law.

Fascist Elites Increasingly See Trump as a Barrier to Fascist Rule

In the meantime, hard right oligarchs and politicos stepping away from Trump (for now?) are doing so not because they have abandoned neofascism but because they increasingly see him as an obstacle to right-wing authoritarian rule. Their new rising Republi-fascist star Ron DeSantis cleaned up in his Florida re-election. He may well turn out to be a more lethal menace to what’s left of democracy and common good than Trump.

Trump Lives

It’s not clear that any other (post-republican) Republican can break Trump’s sick hold on the nation’s demented white Republi-fascist base, which holds disproportionate sway in the presidential primaries. Can more button-downed fascists like DeSantis or Glenn Youngkin really challenge the weirdly charismatic psychopath Donald “Grab’em by the pussy” Trump as “the president of white [male] Amerika” – the “chosen one” atop the deranged Amerikaner cohort?

At the same time, the “Pied Piper” Democrats (who spent many millions of dollars on MAGA-Republican candidates in the 2022 mid-terms) may well want Trump on top of the Republican ticket in 2024. The poor performance of Trump’s mid-term candidates has certainly encouraged that reckless “strategic” orientation, which matches up nicely with Merrick Garland’s thoroughly unnecessary appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Trump yet more thoroughly long after the wannabe fascist strongman should have been locked up for the rest of his life (if not put on federal Death Row) for obviously committing numerous grave high state felonies.

Haunted House

And, by the way, the Republi-fascists may have under-performed in the mid-terms by the usual historical standards for the party not holding the White House, but they did not lose. There was no “blue wave” either. Two hundred and ten 2020 election-deniers won their mid-term races. Fascistic QAnony reptiles like Marjorie Taylor-Green, Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, and Ron Johnson (among other Republi-fascist monsters) were re-elected to Congress.

The rightmost major party won both a majority of seats in the US House and (by a good margin) the national popular vote in the US House elections. Right-wing control of the House will mean more than just blocking supposedly progressive Democratic bills and shutting down the House January 6th committee’s investigation of Trump’s attempted fascist coup. It will also mean constant right-wing “investigation” and harassment of public officials and others who are targeted enemies of the vile right-wing agenda.

The recklessly imperialist octogenarian Joe “Nothing Will Fundamentally Change” (his promise to Wall Street donors in 2019) Biden will use Republi-fascist rule of the House as a welcome excuse for the absence of decent policy initiatives the Democratic establishment doesn’t really want and as justification for his longtime pastime of “reaching across the aisle” to “get things done” with racist and sexist arch-reactionaries we won’t call “semi-fascists” anymore.

Moore v. Harper Means Legislative Control is Enough in Contested States

The Republi-fascists naturally retain firm control of the US Supreme Court. The nation’s top and absurdly powerful judicial body will soon hear oral arguments for Moore v. Harper – a horrific case only taken up because the Court is now a Christian white nationalist Handmaid to neofascist consolidation. The Alito-Thomas-Kavanaugh-Gorsuch-Coney-Barrett ruling in Moore v. Harper will likely give state legislatures the openly authoritarian power to cancel popular presidential votes in their jurisdictions. If the far-right Supremes give a thumbs up to the insane “independent state legislature theory,” state-level Republi-fascists holding legislative majorities in key contested states like Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania (some state vote counts are incomplete as I write this) won’t need their states’ governors, attorney generals, and/or secretaries of states on board to constitutionally monkey-wrench Electoral College slates in 2024-25.

Chilling Media-Politics Deletions and Distortions

There’s plenty more that ought to stop childish and smug liberal and even left cartwheeling over the midterm elections. In dominant media election coverage and commentary, the Republicans were routinely and absurdly normalized and misrepresented as a “working-class” and “populist” party – preposterous descriptions that help cloak their fascist and arch-capitalist essence.

The apocalyptic horseman of nuclear war (actively promoted by Biden over Ukraine) raised barely a ripple in the 2022 elections (insofar as it was an issue, the neofascists brought it up in accord with their attachment to the fascist strongman Vladimir Putin!). Also largely missing from the election – beyond the boundaries of acceptable debate – were the three other and related horsemen ecocide, pandemicide, and, well, fascism. Also missing as usual were the needs and aspirations of human beings living outside the United States, the most globally powerful and destructive nation in world history.

Almost as sickening as these deletions was the media-politics culture’s routine description of the U.S. American political system as a “democracy.” That is a widely inaccurate term for the US-American regime, with its absurdly powerful and outrageously malapportioned Senate, its badly gerrymandered federal and state legislative districts, its openly undemocratic presidential Electoral College, its absurdly powerful and lifetime-appointed Supreme Court, its plutocratic campaign finance regime, its corporate and commercial media oligopoly, and its giant unaccountable military empire. Beneath and around all this is the underlying capitalist class dictatorship’s death grip on the nation’s material-economic base – a command that is both reflected in and reinforced by the nation’s bourgeois political and ideological superstructure.

The Sick Abortion Cynicism of the Dismal Dems

Reflections on class rule (no small matter!) aside, the liberals’ mid-term cartwheels look to me like a big raised middle finger aimed at millions of women and girls stuck in red (brown) states where the female bondage of forced motherhood is now in full force. Please forgive women and feminists living in Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Alabama and other abortion-prohibiting/female-enslaving states for not joining in liberal celebrations over the 2022 mid-terms.

The most disgusting thing I heard from any politico after the midterm elections was Joe Biden using the Republicans’ takeover of the House to say that that he and his fellow Democrats won’t “have the votes” to act on his pre-election lection “promise” to sign legislation codifying Roe v. Wade as national law.  How F’ng gullible does the newly minted octogenarian Biden think we are? He made this statement and his pre-election “promise” on the transparently disingenuous premise that the post-midterms US Senate would have the sixty votes required (under the Senate filibuster that the Democrats refuse to undo) to get such a bill past the nation’s deeply reactionary upper chamber. That was never a possibility. The “promise” was part of the cynical game that the dismal Dems have been playing with abortion for at least half a century.

Look, folks, Biden and the Dems used the abortion issue to limit their damage in the 2022 mid-terms. They continue as before the election to do nothing to make things right for tens of millions of women and girls across the nation. Looking forward to Roe’s death as a vehicle for raising funds and winning votes, the Dem establishment and its allied “choice” organizations (Planned Parenthood and NARAL) refused to mobilize masses to stop the well-telegraphed Dobbs v. Jackson decision from going down. As he did on the day that the Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs decision last June 24th, moreover, Octo-Joe still has but refuses to deploy his power to issue executive orders proclaiming the war on abortion a national public health emergency and mandating the provision of free, safe, and legal abortions on federal lands and military bases across the entire nation, Christian fascist “red” (brown) states included.

Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights (RU4AR), the nation’s leading and militant abortion rights organization was and remains correct. The cynical “blue wave” “strategy” of exploiting the war on abortion to “win the mid-terms” was always aligned against serious defense and advance women’s right to control their own reproductive lives.  Forced motherhood is female enslavement and we need a militant Latin American-style Green Wave social movement beneath and beyond the “killing confines” (RU4AR co-founder Sunsara Taylor’s excellent phrase) of US electoral politics to beat it back.

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