US-Americans, let’s get real: Donald “Take Down the Metal Detectors Cuz the Guys with the AR-15s Don’t Want to Hurt Me” Trump is damn near on a glide path back to the White House.
Fascism, So What?
So what if the orange fascist Trump:
+ now openly channels Hitler by saying that: Marxists, socialists, and communists are “vermin” who need to be “rooted out of the country;” the greatest threat to the Fatherland “comes from within;” nonwhite immigrants are “poisoning the blood of the country”?
+ has made political “retribution” a cornerstone of his campaign?
+ opens his 2024 campaign rallies open with singing by incarcerated January 6 putschists, who he calls “patriots” and promises to pardon once he returns to power?
+ continues to advance the Big and multiply disproven (more than 60 times in the courts) Hitlerian Lie that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him by “the” – get this – “radical Left,” his absurd term for capitalist-imperialist Democrats?
+ ludicrously claims that Marxists have taken over the American educational system?
+ calls for the extra-judicial execution of suspected shoplifters?
+ pledges to build giant concentration camps for “illegal” migrants and asylum-seekers?
+ says his former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair should have been executed for reassuring China that the US would not start a nuclear war after January 6?
+ threatens to invade Mexico?
+ wants to invoke the Insurrection Act to crush protests on the day he’s inaugurated for a second time?
+ says he wants to be a “dictator for one day” (whatever the F that means) because “I want to build the wall and drill, drill, drill”?
And so what if his first administration was a long rolling fascistic nightmare (see the third chapter of my most recent book This Happened Here for an exhaustive record) predictably culminating in an attempted coup?
Despite all this and more disgusting to mention, the loathsome ogre Trump, reasonably described by Noam Chomsky in January 2020 as “the most dangerous criminal in human history,” is sitting pretty for a second presidency starting on January 20, 2025.
One by one the imagined American checks and balances that supposedly provide great barriers to his return to power are crumbling.
Who or what is going to stop him?
Six Failed Saviors
Anti- and Non-Trump Republicans
Anti- and non-Trump Republicans? Seriously? They have for all intents and purposes been drummed out of the now post-republican Republifascist Party. The Republican establishment has congealed around the Malignant One. As the political analysts Lakshya Jain and Arman Thomas note in a recent New York Times Op-Ed:
“The former president now controls the Republican Party by virtually every conceivable measure. He has a commanding lead in fund-raising and polling. His policies are a beacon to which most conservative lawmakers orient themselves in affairs both foreign and domestic. His endorsement remains the single most coveted asset that any Republican could hope to brandish in a primary race, and he has already received support from an overwhelming majority of prominent elected Republicans….more than 80 percent of Republicans elected to the 118th House cast doubt on the 2020 [presidential election] results during the 2022 midterms, along with 17 of the 20 Republicans who won Senate seats and 13 of 18 Republicans elected to governorships…Trump has not hesitated to punish perceived disloyalty, even after he departed office. When the House impeached him for inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6, just 10 Republicans voted in favor. But by the next congressional term, eight of those 10 had left office, either retiring or losing primaries to Trump-endorsed challengers. Tellingly, one of those candidates was Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President…It’s not a coincidence that the two survivors…did not have to go through partisan primaries; they narrowly advanced through top-two systems that allowed independents and Democrats to cross over for them.”
Meanwhile, nearly the entire Republican policy establishment has now signed up with the Amerikaner fascist MAGA crusade. Project 2025, a sweeping plan for the Christian white nationalist/neofascist takeover of the federal government under Trump has been developed by The Heritage Foundation, a longstanding Republican think tank, in partnership with 80 Republican policy groups including Turning Point USA, the Conservative Partnership Institute, the Center for Renewing America, and America First Legal. Former Trump appointees and allies are prominent atop these and other “conservative” groups that have signed up with the campaign for a Trump dictatorship.
Trump’s sweeping victories in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary show that, barring death or a crippling illness or injury, he’s the 2024 Republican presidential nominee, ready to benefit from the right-tilted US Electoral College, which effectively requires Democratic candidates to win the national popular vote by at least 4 percentage points to keep or gain the White House.
The Legal System
What about Trump’s much ballyhooed legal problems? Will prosecutors, judges, and juries save us from a second and much worse Trump administration? Not likely. The January 6 insurrection leader Trump has not been charged with insurrection, the one crime that would constitutionally preclude him from regaining the presidency. Trump’s big money legal team, largely paid for through his massive dark money campaign finance war chest, is (with help from enablers, allies, and bumblers in the “justice system”) successfully delaying key proceedings long enough for him to possibly avoid any verdicts before the 2024 election. It’s not clear that guilty verdicts in any of his cases would cost him the contest with Biden
If Herr Donald is re-elected (currently a 65% probability), he will of course deep-six all federal cases against him and pardon himself along with many other Republi-fascists. He will handily nullify the state-level cases against him.
Current state-level efforts to keep him off presidential ballots on Fourteenth Amendment grounds are unlikely to survive the scrutiny of the monumentally corrupt and illegitimate US Supreme Court that Trump and former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell created during the rabid dog’s first sick presidency.
Trump has found the prosecutions and lawsuits against him to be a polling and fundraising windfall. He delights in using them to sell the paranoid-style narrative that he and by extension his followers are being persecuted by a “deep state” that has “weaponized the criminal justice” in pursuit of a “radical left” agenda. (Never mind that his campaign promised to weaponize the Department of Justice and other arms of government against his political enemies.)
If he had been serious about preventing the fascist Trump from returning to power, the spineless US Attorney General Merrick Garland would have appointed a special prosecutor much sooner than November of 2022. He would have made sure that Trump was charged with insurrection.
Looking for the US Congress to save the day? Good luck with that! The Congress had a chance to prevent the orange Third Reich enthusiast from coming back into power after January 6 but the Senate was unable to convict Trump after his second impeachment in January of 2021. Too many Republican Senators feared political and physical retribution from Trump’s fascist base.
The House is gerrymandered to the right and may increase its slim Trumpist-Republi-fascist majority in 2024-25. The election line-up for the Senate contests favors the return of a Republi-fascist majority in the powerful upper chamber of Congress, itself a right-tilted and absurdly malapportioned monument to Minority Rule
Think the media is going to save us from a second Trump nightmare? Think again. Sure, MSNBC talking heads will issue the usual liberal and progressive-sounding warnings about authoritarianism and even now fascism (it’s hard to avoid the F-word when Trump is openly channeling Hitler), bringing on the usual elite academic suspects like Ruth ben-Ghiat (NYU) to tell us how Trump is walking in the footsteps of Mussolini and Hitler. Great, but the main media trend is already discernible: normalizing the American fascist creep with the usual both sides-ism and horse race coverage and with nauseatingly vapid commentary from unmitigated morons like the New York Times’ uber-dufus David “the Republicans are the party of the working-class” Brooks. The mainly “liberal” Democratic owners and managers of a dominant mass media that has been normalizing nihilistic violence and sadism and selling these pathologies to children (as the brilliant left cultural theorist and social critic Henry Giroux has been observing for years) on multiple platforms for decades has little business being shocked by the ascendancy of an openly violent right-wing politics in the US.
The Dismal Weimar Dems
How ‘bout ‘dem dismal, dollar-drenched Dems under “Genocide Joe” Biden? Are you dreaming that those capitalist-imperialist assholes are going to save the day and stop the Malignant One ? Hope on! Like his fellow Neoliberal Democratic presidential predecessors Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the imperialist warmonger Biden has demonstrated yet again that the not-so leftmost major party’s progressive-sounding campaign rhetoric is disingenuous cover for a firm underlying dedication to American capitalist Empire and Inequality, Inc. The deeply conservative, bumbling, and epically uncharismatic incumbent Biden was already in deep trouble with core Democratic constituencies – young adults, Blacks, Hispanics, and progressives – even before he wrapped his arms around Israel’s fascist prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pledged full support for Israel’s criminal campaign of genocidal ethnic cleansing in Gaza. He was already incredibly unpopular before the southern US border crisis hatched a full-on fascist-secessionist Nullification rebellion – replete with an armed standoff between state and federal forces and 25 Republi-fascist state governors backing the maiming of Latin American women and children by fascist razor wire – in Texas.
Sleepytime Joe is polling well below the tangerine-tinted tyrant nationally and in the handful of “contested” or “swing” states that absurdly determine presidential outcomes under the archaic, democracy-flunking US Electoral College. He is looking very Jimmy Carter-like as his campaign gears up to absurdly portray his blood-soaked ruling class presidency as the last defense of “democracy.”
Hey, what about the business class? They’ll save the day, right?
Know any more good jokes? A recent column by Charles Sykes, editor of the anti-Trump Republican Website The Bulwark and a frequent MSNBC talking head, is titled “Why Wall Street is Surrendering to Trump.” Sykes rightly mocks the “resistance fantasy” that “the nation’s economic elites — the titans of Wall Street, the beautiful people of Davos, the economic masters of the universe— would, in our moment of peril, mount the barricades to defend democracy.” To which Sykes asks, “Have you met these guys?.” Further:
“For about five minutes after January 6, it seemed that the business community had, in fact, found or fabricated a moral compass. ‘There are some members who, by their actions, will have forfeited the support of the US Chamber of Commerce. Period. Full stop,’ the chamber’s vice-president, Neil Bradley, declared when the group announced a ban on contributions to representatives who had voted against certifying Joe Biden’s win. There were full-page ads and ringing declarations. ‘This is not who we are as a people or a country,’ insisted Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan…Ah, but…the Chamber quietly dropped its ban on election deniers. The cash still flows. And last week in Davos, we found out how far Dimon had evolved on extraneous details like the peaceful transfer of power and attempted insurrections. Dimon now says that Donald Trump was right about lots of things and, like other moguls, is now okay with either Biden or Trump. ‘My company,’ he said, ‘will survive and thrive in both.’”
Sykes rightly finds this bourgeois comfort with fascism unsurprising. He quotes a recent remarkable Financial Times commentary by Edward Luce on how Big Business within and beyond Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy welcomed and applauded the rise of European fascism in the 1930s. Just as the capitalist elite calculated that far right racist palingenetic nationalist authoritarianism served its bottom line in the 1930s, Wall Street today is “quickly making its peace with the twice-impeached, disgraced, indicted, authoritarian fraudster” who “poses a threat to democratic norms and is a cancer on the national culture” because Trump promises to be friendly to corporate and financial interests by reducing taxes and slashing regulations. Even if the Lords of Capital might personally prefer what Sykes calls “a less fascisty [Republican] option,” Trump is “good for the bottom-line, and that, after all, is the business of business. In their world, the trashing of constitutional norms is simply collateral damage.”
Wealthy business class Trumpers know that Trump’s populist talk is just “red meat for the masses” (Luce) and that a Trump47 presidency will be “better for business than Biden” since the tangerine-tinted fascist will “cut the top tax rate” and “boost the fossil fuel industry and commercial real estate. The assumption of business leaders that Trump will fulfil these promises is almost certainly right.”
At the same time, Trump’s chances of returning to power are good and business elites want to make sure that they have “a seat at the table.” They know that critical “access” to a victorious Trump regime and party will be denied to capitalists who dared oppose the wannabe strongman for life. (They have good reason to fear retribution. Read Sykes’ essay for more details on how Trump and his party are ready, willing, and able to “punish ideological dissenters in the private sector.”)
There’s a lot more to say on the topic of the business class’s relationship to fascism past and present than Sykes and Luce let on. They fail, for example, to note the fundamentally anti-democratic and authoritarian nature of the capitalist system, which has always been compatible with slavery, fascism, and other forms of despotism. They say nothing about how that system produces fascism in part by systematically undermining and mocking popular sovereignty and rendering transparently inauthentic and manipulative the democratic rhetoric of politicians. (They say nothing, of course, about how the Western capitalist ruling class saw Hitler’s Third Reich at first as a welcome bulwark against the world’s first socialist state, the Soviet Union). But they’d lose their audience and positions at The Bulwark and the Financial Times if they went that deep and Marxist into the matter. Their candor on the moral nothingness of the American bourgeoisie (“the trashing of constitutional norms is simply collateral damage” for Jamie Dimon et al.) is (I think) refreshing.
Who will stop the fascist creep in the world’s most dangerous nation? Only an organized mass of people who refuse to live in a fascist America and are prepared to shut down business (rule) as usual. The goal of such a rebellion must be more than simply blocking the formerly republican Republi-fascist Party from returning to the White House. It must confront also the underlying capitalist system that breeds fascism “like white on rice,” producing perverted binary choices like either the fascist menace Donald “Poisoning Our Blood” Trump or the bloody imperialist “Genocide Joe” Biden atop the world’s most dangerous state!
Revolution anyone? Under bourgeois/capitalist rule, Marx and Engels noted in 1848, “all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and [humanity] is at least compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life and his relations with his kind.” It is long past time to shed ourselves of the addictive religion of melting, late bourgeois democracy, whose farewell tour is coming soon to a telescreen near you.
This essay first appeared on The Paul Street Report.