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The Struggle against Authoritarian Populism

The US finds itself in the worst crisis of its democracy in decades, perhaps even since the Civil War. The political system has failed. Trump constantly mocks the constitutional state and democracy. The Democrats are absolutely obliged to protect the country from an authoritarian coup from above. Voting Trump out of office is the only realistic way

By Daniel Haufler

[This article published on 3/28/2019 is translated from the German on the Internet,  https://gegenblende.dgb. The steel industry with its jobs in the Rust Belt will not be revived again, whatever Trump promises. Trump likes to present himself with giant flags and the military as commander-in-chief as he did recently at a tank factory.]

The United States of America is more divided and polarized politically and socially than ever. From the beginning, Donald Trump exploited this and pushed a right-wing identity agenda. He skillfully diverts from his offenses. No Mueller report and no court can stop him. There is only a democratic chance.

Trump answers the questions about his offenses with the same lies or does not answer them at all.

All this can hardly be grasped. Trump's presidency hits new low-points again and again. So the US president sees himself - wrongfully - completely exonerated from all reproaches that the special prosecutor Robert Mueller analyzed. Several district attorneys are filing suits against him and his firms around the clock. Strictly speaking, he has two themes. He wants to abolish and destroy Barack Obama's health reform by legal tricks and rob 21 million Americans of their health insurance. And he wants to rededicate money from the Defense budget to build a piece of the senseless wall at the southern border that he has championed for years.

Trump constantly mocks the constitutional state and democracy

With all this, he mocks the constitutional state and democracy. Even more, he reveals the weaknesses of American institutions that must politically control him and put him in his place. "Checks and balances" and separation of powers are lost. The Attorney General William Barr simply absolves the president who appointed him from the suspicion of obstructing justice. He does this even though Trump obviously wanted to stop the legal actions against him by dismissing for example FBI-Director James Comey and Barr's predecessor Jeff Sessions. Barr does this although the special investigator explicitly said the president was not exonerated...

Mueller's decision also testifies to institutional failure. What is the point of a special prosecutor if he cannot indict? On top of everything, a signal is sent to every future president that he doesn't need to fear such a procedure regardless of what he does. The Congress, strictly speaking the Republicans with their majority in the Senate, has done nothing against this partly authoritarian president. There are no signs that this will change as the next presidential election moves closer. The Republican senators and representatives will not try to publicize the entire Mueller report although they know the special prosecutor did not want to either publically prosecute or exonerate Trump.

Not all followers will follow Trump at any price

The US finds itself in the worst crisis of its democracy in decades, perhaps even since the Civil War. The political system has failed. The administration of justice must still prove its independence although Trump has packed the Supreme Court with conservative to reactionary henchmen. Society is more split than ever. Trump's adherents stubbornly follow their leader regardless of reproaches, accusations, unfulfilled promises and anti-social policies like tax cuts for the rich and abolition of Obamacare. Happily for the country, Trump's adversaries are also fighting inexorably against him and his republicans - and for what the US would like to represent: democracy and the constitutional state, more social justice and against racism.

In this situation, the Democrats are absolutely obliged to protect the country from an authoritarian coup from above. They face a nearly impossible task of bringing people together again, at least those who are not as ideologically blinded and racist as a large part of older white men. These persons are lost for democracy for the foreseeable future since they draw their self-image from a racist nationalism. The right-wing identity politics has completely caught them.

Many others only voted for the big moron from New York to show Washington that they still exist in neglected districts where the drug problems are as great as unemployment. They want to be heard in public discourse and therefore are reachable if the Democrats take their social fears seriously. The unions could also make an important contribution. The social gradient grows between the elites and the workers and simple employees. This is not easy. But the country falls apart without attempting to socially integrate these persons. A kind of civil war does not seem entirely inconceivable anymore. In a hardly veiled way, Trump has declared that a possible removal from office could trigger violent resistance in the country.

Voting Trump out of office is the only realistic way

The Democrats must do justice to their responsibility in Congress. They must force publication of the Mueller report and all relevant documents by the Justice Department - by lawsuits if necessary. A central conclusion of the Watergate scandal was that the democratically elected representatives of the people, the Congress and ultimately no court had to decide whether the president exercised his office according to justice and the law. Insight in the report and its publication will not inevitably lead to a removal from office procedure. This is good because society would only be split even more. However, the publication of this report will reveal Trump's offenses and hopefully prevent Americans from reelecting this man. Elections are the only way out of this crisis of the constitutional state and democracy.

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RE: "more social justice and against racism" — *NOT* what U.S. electorate wants 02.Apr.2019 21:25


read Thomas Frank's pre- and post-2016 electorate analyses, and see his YouTube video talks.

Trump won support of the U.S. working class for a real reason:

Economic issues.

These are what drive and propel politics. i.e. Actual Politics, not "political issue" politics.

U.S. Democratic party is run by wealthy elites who pander rhetorically to "social justice".

Democrat and Republican senior leadership, i.e. DNC and RNC, cater to and are run by the *EXACT SAME* corporate lobby interests.

That is why they spent _millions_ of dollars and time-effort to defeat Trump from not only being elected, but even from his being nominated as presidential candidate by the GOP during the 2016 campaign.

Anyway (I'm not going to repost all the links yet again) the Thomas Frank material and other documentation is extensively posted previously, right here on portland.indymedia.org

working class 03.Apr.2019 08:36


"Trump won support of the U.S. working class for a real reason"

because they were dumb enough to think a new york billionaire would actually care about the working class. and guess what. none of his policies will do anything but make the rich richer. see the tax cuts for a prime example, and our farmers being crushed by idiotic tariffs

the idea that trump is anything but an "elite" is absurd, but he has somehow managed to convince the rubes on the right otherwise.

RE "idea that trump is anything but an "elite" —whose 'idea' was that? 03.Apr.2019 22:27


oh yeah it was "."'s STRAWMAN.

OF COURSE Trump is an 'elite' - HE'S A _BILLIONAIRE_, for one thing.

And as mentioned, he **doesn't care** about being President (except for his own ego reasons) because 1) he isn't a career politician and 2) has his own billionaire real estate empire to run/make money from; i.e. he doesn't even require residency in the White House (however much he might gloat over having 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. address). Trump doesn't 'need' the Presidency; it's merely a thing he _wanted_. He's going back to billionaire-ism after he leaves WH. It's just another "feather in his cap" / trophy on his mantle etc.

But, as seen from the 2016 election he isn't in the neocon globalist club. That club, including the GOP Republican National Commmittee elites, former Treasury Secretary / Wall St. bailout czar, **ALL** of the surviving Bush family members et al. each voted for Hillary Clinton.
Trump certainly (being a NYC-East Coaster) has Wall St. "pals" but they **aren't precisely the same ones** (particularly of certain political/ governmental-manipulative leanings + agendas) which Obama, Clintons, Bushes et al. hang tight with.

RE: "working class"

DO SOME READING / viewing ( here's the Thomas Frank links previously mentioned )

Frank point out the slavish worship and reliance upon Democratic Party for 'change' to be the illusion that it is.

Millions Of Ordinary Americans Support Donald Trump. Here's Why
by Thomas Frank

The issue is not Hillary Clinton's Wall St links but Democrats' core dogmas
The Democratic party rejected the New Deal and its stress on working-class Americans in favour of a technocratic elite - is it time for a political revolution?

How The Democrats Lost Touch On Trade
author: Thomas Frank


Thomas Frank: Why Democrats Lose

^THIS is a *must-watch* video ^

Ed Mays
Published on Apr 21, 2017

Thomas Frank's 'Listen Liberal: Or What Ever Happened to the Party of the People', published in March of 2016, was named as one of "6 Books to Help Understand Trump's Win" by the New York Times. Frank (bestselling author of What's the Matter with Kansas? and The Wrecking Crew) made a name for himself for his scathing critiques of Republicans. Now he turns his attention to his own party, arguing that liberals have lost sight of their goal to be a party that champions equity. To support his claim he points out that, after years of occupying the White House, the Democrats have done little to advance traditional liberal goals: expanding opportunity, fighting for social justice, and ensuring that workers get a fair deal. Indeed, the decline of the middle class has only accelerated. Wall Street gets its bailouts, wages keep falling, and the free-trade deals keep coming. In this low point for the Democratic party, Frank reminds them of their historic stance and contends that renewing those commitments is the only way to reverse the ever-deepening rift between the rich and the poor in America.

Thanks to Seattle Town Hall and Elliott Bay Books
Recorded 4/18/17



Thomas Frank on Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society, CSpan, June 27, 2018, 58 min


~35 mins. into ^ 6/27 C-SPAN vid, audience member asks about CIA Democrats —

Democratic Party, 2018 is running CIA-background candidates :

The CIA Democrats: Part one

The CIA Democrats: Part two

The CIA Democrats: Part three


Frank: "how quickly and superficially liberals have been radicalized" —

Historian Thomas Frank On President Trump, Partisanship And His New Book "Rendezvous with Oblivion"

Published on Jun 25, 2018

As Republicans and Democrats trade partisan attacks back and forth, members of the right and the left are retreating further into their corners. Author and historian Thomas Frank, predicted much of this in one of Jim Braude's favorite books, What's the Matter with Kansas, which discussed working class Americans voting against their economic self-interests. In his latest, Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society, Frank dissects a decade of relentless capitalism, and the wave of angry populism that drove the 2016 election. He joined Jim Braude to discuss.


note also (in WGBH ^above) what Frank says about media/journalists —
e.g. WaPo, NYT et cetera and the class-education ranks from which they're typically drawn, manner in which they report on so-called 'economic populism' both currently and historically.


The War on Populism 03.Apr.2019 22:42

author: C J Hopkins


January 10th, 2019

Remember when the War on Terror ended and the War on Populism began? That's OK, no one else does.

It happened in the Summer of 2016, also known as "the Summer of Fear." The War on Terror was going splendidly. There had been a series of "terrorist attacks," in Orlando, Nice, Würzberg, Munich, Reutlingen, Ansbach, and Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, each of them perpetrated by suddenly "self-radicalized" "lone wolf terrorists" (or "non-terrorist terrorists") who had absolutely no connection to any type of organized terrorist groups prior to suddenly "self- radicalizing" themselves by consuming "terrorist content" on the Internet. It seemed we were entering a new and even more terrifying phase of the Global War on Terror, a phase in which anyone could be a "terrorist" and "terrorism" could mean almost anything.

This broadening of the already virtually meaningless definition of "terrorism" was transpiring just in time for Obama to hand off the reins to Hillary Clinton, who everyone knew was going to be the next president, and who was going to have to bomb the crap out of Syria in response to the non-terrorist terrorist threat. The War on Terror (or, rather, "the series of persistent targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America," as Obama rebranded it) was going to continue, probably forever. The Brexit referendum had just taken place, but no one had really digested that yet ... and then Trump won the nomination.

ike that scene in Orwell's 1984 where the Party switches official enemies right in the middle of the Hate Week rally, the War on Terror was officially canceled and replaced by the War on Populism. Or ... all right, it wasn't quite that abrupt. But seriously, go back and scan the news. Note how the "Islamic terrorist threat" we had been conditioned to live in fear of on a daily basis since 2001 seemed to just vanish into thin air. Suddenly, the "existential threat" we were facing was "neo-nationalism," "illiberalism," or the pejorative designator du jour, "populism."

Here we are, two and a half years later, and "democracy" is under constant attack by a host of malevolent "populist" forces ... . Russo-fascist Black vote suppressors, debaucherous eau de Novichok assassins, Bernie Sanders, the yellow-vested French, emboldened non-exploding mail bomb bombers, Jeremy Corbyn's Nazi Death Cult, and brain-devouring Russian-Cubano crickets. The President of the United States is apparently both a Russian intelligence operative and literally the resurrection of Hitler. NBC and MSNBC have been officially merged with the CIA. The Guardian has dispensed with any pretense of journalism and is just making stories up out of whole cloth. Anyone who has ever visited Russia, or met with a Russian, or read a Russian novel, is on an "Enemies of Democracy" watch list (as is anyone refusing to vacation in Israel, which the Senate is now in the process of making mandatory for all U.S. citizens). Meanwhile, the "terrorists" are nowhere to be found, except for the terrorists we've been using to attempt to overthrow the government of Bashar al Assad, the sadistic nerve-gassing Monster of Syria, who illegally invaded and conquered his own country in defiance of the "international community."

All this madness has something to do with "populism," although it isn't clear what. The leading theory is that the Russians are behind it. They've got some sort of hypno-technology (not to be confused with those brain-eating crickets) capable of manipulating the minds of ... well, Black people, mostly, but not just Black people. Obviously, they are also controlling the French, who they have transformed into "racist, hate-filled liars" who are "attacking elected representatives, journalists, Jews, foreigners, and homosexuals," according to French President Emmanuel Macron, the anointed "Golden Boy of Europe." More terrifying still, Putin is now able to project words out of Trump's mouth in real-time, literally using Trump's head as a puppet, or like one of those Mission Impossible masks. (Rachel Maddow conclusively proved this by spending a couple of hours on Google comparing the words coming out of Trump's mouth to words that had come out of Russian mouths, but had never come out of American mouths, which they turned out to be the exact same words, or pretty close to the exact same words!) Apparently, Putin's master plan for Total Populist World Domination and Establishment of the Thousand Year Duginist Reich was to provoke the global capitalist ruling classes, the corporate media, and their credulous disciples into devolving into stark raving lunatics, or blithering idiots, or a combination of both.

But, seriously, all that actually happened back in the Summer of 2016 was the global capitalist ruling classes recognized that they had a problem. The problem that they recognized they had (and continue to have, and are now acutely aware of) is that no one is enjoying global capitalism ... except the global capitalist ruling classes. The whole smiley-happy, supranational, neo-feudal corporate empire concept is not going over very well with the masses, or at least not with the unwashed masses. People started voting for right-wing parties, and Brexit, and other "populist" measures (not because they had suddenly transformed into Nazis, but because the Right was acknowledging and exploiting their anger with the advance of global neoliberalism, while liberals and the Identity Politics Left were slow jamming the TPP with Obama and babbling about transgender bathrooms, and such).

The global capitalist ruling classes needed to put a stop to that (i.e, the "populist" revolt, not the bathroom debate). So they suspended the Global War on Terror and launched the War on Populism. It was originally only meant to last until Hillary Clinton's coronation, or the second Brexit referendum, then switch back to the War on Terror, but ... well, weird things happen, and here we are.

We'll get back to the War on Terror, eventually ... as the War on Populism is essentially just a temporary rebranding of it. In the end, it's all the same counter-insurgency. When a system is globally hegemonic, as our current model of capitalism is, every war is a counter-insurgency (i.e., a campaign waged against an internal enemy), as there are no external enemies to fight. The "character" of the internal enemies might change (e.g., "Islamic terrorism," "extremism," "fascism," "populism," "Trumpism," "Corbynism," et cetera) but they are all insurgencies against the hegemonic system ... which, in our case, is global capitalism, not the United States of America.

The way I see it, the global capitalist ruling classes now have less than two years to put down this current "populist" insurgency. First and foremost, they need to get rid of Trump, who despite his bombastic nativist rhetoric is clearly no "hero of the common people," nor any real threat to global capitalism, but who has become an anti-establishment symbol, like a walking, talking "fuck you" to both the American and global neoliberal elites. Then, they need to get a handle on Europe, which isn't going to be particularly easy. What happens next in France will be telling, as will whatever becomes of Brexit ... which I continue to believe will never actually happen, except perhaps in some purely nominal sense.

And then there's the battle for hearts and minds, which they've been furiously waging for the last two years, and which is only going to intensify. If you think things are batshit crazy now (which, clearly, they are), strap yourself in. What is coming is going to make COINTELPRO look like the work of some amateur meme-freak. The neoliberal corporate media, psy-ops like Integrity Initiative, Internet-censoring apps like NewsGuard, ShareBlue and other David Brock outfits, and a legion of mass hysteria generators will be relentlessly barraging our brains with absurdity, disinformation, and just outright lies (as will their counterparts on the Right, of course, in case you thought that they were any alternative). It's going to get extremely zany.

The good news is, by the time it's all over and Trump has been dealt with, and normality restored, and the working classes put back in their places, we probably won't remember that any of this happened. We'll finally be able to sort out those bathrooms, and get back to paying the interest on our debts, and to living in more or less constant fear of an imminent devastating terrorist attack ... and won't that be an enormous relief?