As the end of the impeachment trial limped to a close, Donald Trump rode triumphantly into congress and disgust turned to horror and real fear. Especially when looking at the polls.
First the impeachment trial limped towards the finish line, it’s outcome predetermined. The Republicans have now in effect admitted that Trump used foreign policy to try to manipulate the upcoming general election. Their fallback arguments include claiming that the entire process was unfair, that Trump’s motives were mixed in that he partly really was concerned with corruption and therefore any other motives are irrelevant, and that a president cannot be convicted unless he or she has committed an actual crime. “What do we need documents and witnesses when we already know he did it, since it doesn’t matter?” is their view.
Adam Schiff was his usual sharp and powerful self in his summation.
“Do we really have any doubt about the facts here? Does anybody really question whether the President is capable of what he’s charged with? No one is really making the argument, Donald Trump would never do such a thing, because of course we know that he would, and of course we know that he did….. Well, let me tell you something” he concluded. If right doesn’t matter, if right doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter how good the Constitution is. It doesn’t matter how brilliant the framers were. Doesn’t matter how good or bad our advocacy in this trial is. If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost.”
But Schiff’s blistering attack on Trump – something that is normally enjoyable – was starting to wear thin. The reason was that it was purely an appeal to his Republican colleagues, at least one of them, to “do what’s right”. Haven’t we seen enough of them to know that they’re not going to? didn’t their vote for Supreme Court (in)Justice Kavanaugh tell us?
The dangers we face are hinted at by long time Republican-turned-independent Max Boot. He wrote “I want nothing to do with a party led by the deluded and the dishonest. I fervently hope our democracy survives this debacle. I fervently hope the Republican party does not.” So far, only Republican Senator Mitt Romney is hedging his bets and voting in favor of impeachment.
State of the Union Speech
If the pressure and threats weren’t enough to ensure that nearly every Republican votes against conviction, then Trump’s blistering campaign speech before congress – the “State of the Union” speech – will do the trick. We are not headed to Nazi Germany at this time, but listening to it reminded me of it. And the Republicans’ shouts and applause after every few sentences showed that the entire pack is out for blood, like a pack of braying and blood thirsty hounds preparing to rip their victim limb for limb.
Trump’s speech showed that he’s well aware that Biden is damaged goods. All the news about Biden’s son Hunter and Ukraine has had an affect. But it’s not only that. Like Trump himself, Biden is incapable of completing a single simple thought. But it doesn’t matter as far as Trump is concerned because at least he’s entertaining. That’s what his followers love about him among other things.
On his night to shine, Trump focused much of his attack on Venezuela and “socialism”. That was a warm-up for Sanders, should he get the nomination. And it will be effective, despite what the Berners may think.
Trump also focused much of his speech in cutting into the black voters’ support for the Democrats. He appealed to the individualism and go-for-yourself-and-devil-take-the-hindmost which is rampant among all Americans. That was what his awarding a scholarship to a black child was all about. This appeal will be successful. In fact, it already is. According to a Zogby Poll 22% of black voters overall now approve of Trump, of which half “strongly” approve. This is about double the roughly 10% who have approved of him in previous years.
Trump also appealed to the “blue collar” vote. As things stand, he will win that vote, including if Sanders or Warren is the nominee. Both candidates are on record as opposing fracking, for example. A recent article in In These Times recorded how union blue collar workers in Pennsylvania who depend on fracking for work are saying they’ll vote for Trump if Warren or Sanders is the Democratic nominee.
It’s this week’s pay check that matters. That and that alone. It’s almost like they’ve absorbed the attitude of a growing layer of the capitalist class which has concluded that next quarter’s profit report is the only thing that matters and the future stability of the country and the world can go to hell.
Few listen to the Democrats’ official response, which is probably fortunate for the Democrats. But the official response, made by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, really showed how pathetically out of touch the Democrats are, especially considering that her speech most certainly must have been vetted by the Democratic Party leadership. “Michiganders are no different from Americans everywhere. We love our families and want a good life today and a better life tomorrow for our kids” she said. “We work hard and we expect our government to work hard for us, as well. We have grit and value loyalty, and we still root for the Detroit Lions. We and all Americans might be weary of today’s politics, but we must stay engaged. Our country, our democracy, our future demand it. We’re capable of great things when we work together.”
She actually filled ten minutes with such tripe. This is the answer to Trump?
Who can defeat Donald Trump?
It seems increasingly unlikely that Sanders can, as Trump will paint him with the Maduro brush. Warren seems to be fading. Pete Buttigieg seems too lightweight, too much like a boy scout. Nor will he inspire black voters (to say the least), and they will be crucial to any Democratic victory. As for Biden, every response he gives leaves the listener feeling exhausted and confused, as is Biden himself.
The only two possible Democrats on the horizon that I can see that seem to stand a good chance of defeating him are (1) Adam Schiff. He would be at least as entertaining as is Trump and would tear him limb from limb. But he’s not running. And (2) Mat Damon. Seriously. If an ex reality TV star can be president, why can’t a movie actor? Damon has the smile and the good hair that are necessary to appeal to the audience. As a secondary quality, he even has the liberal, pro-union background.
Of course, Damon is meant partly as a joke, but that’s the point: If Trump can make politics reality TV, why can’t we make it into a joke? Especially at a time when we have to laugh to keep from crying. And sometimes the most ridiculous is a demonstration of reality.
Monarch butterflies – the canary in the coal mine
Meanwhile, a second campaigner for preservation of the forests in which the monarch butterflies hibernate was killed. These beautiful little animals are in steep decline and their habitat is under threat from loggers and others. Recently, Raúl Hernández, who worked as a tour guide at a butterfly sanctuary in Michoacán state, was found murdered. His murder follows that of fellow campaigner Homero Gómez.
For Trump, as with the capitalist class and – we have to admit it – for so many workers, the monarch butterflies and all that goes with them must be sacrificed for jobs and profits – which supposedly go hand-in-hand.
Fight for the future
All is not lost, though. There is still a long ways to go before Trump and the Republicans can complete their horrific mission. The strike wave of recent years still demonstrates the potential for a working class movement. To those who place all their hopes in Bernie Sanders, we say: There are no saviors. Nor is there a guarantee that Sanders will either win the nomination or, if he does, defeat Trump. Look beyond your own circles of Sandersnistas. There is a huge sector of society that is responding to Trump’s demagoguery. They will be strongly influenced by his hanging the Maduro millstone around Sanders’ neck. If you put all your eggs in the Sanders basket and it fails, then what will you have left, other than a basket left dripping with a gooey mess? The best way to reverse the present political climate, thereby defeating Trump in the process, is to build the movement in the streets, in the working class schools and communities, and to build a rank and file movement to reverse the course of the present union leadership.