Often a movement from below is foretold by a crisis at the top. Is that what is happening now?
A recent article by Max Boot seems to show that. Boot, a former lifelong Republican, is a central figure in the Council on Foreign Relations, which is the prestigious foreign affairs think tank. After outlining some of the issues with Trump, he concludes with these words: ‘It pains me to say this as someone who spent 30 years as a loyal Republican — I re-registered as an independent on Nov. 9 — but I agree with Mark Salter, Sen. John McCain’s former chief of staff, who tweeted: “Words I thought I’d never say: the security of the United States might now depend on electing a Democratic Congress in 2018.”’
Ever since the 1930s, in general the Republicans have been the preferred party of most of the US capitalist class. The capitalists are perfectly capable of ruling through the Democrats, but in general the Republicans are more stable for them. So, when they seem to be shifting to the Democrats, if we’re serious about understanding the society we live in (and understanding is the first requirement for changing it!), then we have to understand what is happening here.
Michael Flynn and the Republicans
Take the case of Michael Flynn, Trump’s fired national security advisor. He’d previously been fired from his post as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency under Obama for being such a loose cannon and a conspiracy theorist. But there’s another connection: In December of 2015, Flynn traveled to Russia as a guest of RT (the Russian state news program) to give a speech there. He was paid $34,000 for this.
In other words, not only is Flynn a right wing nut, he’s also a corrupt money grubber. And this illustrates the problem: The far right lunatics are often some of the most corrupt, meaning that they are more looking out for themselves than for the interests of US capitalism in general. In fact, that is the problem the US capitalist class has with President Trump.
But it’s not only Trump; the entire Republican party is riddled through-and-through with these types. Not that the Democrats are exactly self-sacrificing servants of the (capitalist) “national interest”, but at least their corruption seems to be under control.
The US capitalist class has had to allow these types to gain such a prominent position in the Republican Party; they had to divert attention away from class interests, and they’ve done so by promoting the Tea Party and the simple mindedness that goes along with them. And it is exactly this that has meant that the Republican Party is no longer reliable for them!
What are some possible outcomes?
Max Boot and Co. seem to think that the best approach is to get a Democratic majority in congress after the 2018 elections. But can they wait that long? Every other day, there is a major crisis with their president. As we have written, the problem is that Trump’s financial ties with Russian oligarchs/mobsters prevents him from basing himself on the global interests of US capitalism; it’s his own, personal financial fortunes (plus his own idiocy) that guide him. And struggle as they might, they cannot get Trump under control.
One possibility is a JFK solution. But this is extremely risky. Trump has enough true believers that if he died in office even due to really natural causes there would be turmoil in the streets. Nobody would believe it.
It’s still not ruled out that Trump could succeed in cracking down even further, including seriously restricting the capitalist “free” press and other aspects of capitalist democracy. That, in itself, would mean an even greater crisis for US capitalism.
With the developing anarchy in US capitalist politics, it seems impossible that the US working class will not be forced into action, will not be forced to start to assert itself as an independent force in society. But how, through what process, will this develop? Will more independent, working class and socialist candidates – starting at the local level – start to appear and will this start to become a general trend? Will a mass movement such as what threatened at the time of Trump’s first Muslim travel ban sweep the country? Will it be a combination… plus something entirely unpredictable?
In any case, while we cannot just neglect the day-to-day organizing, we have to keep our eyes on the bigger picture. “Uncharted waters” is what comes to mind.