STRUGGLE AGAINST AUTHORITARIAN POPULISM
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.