A couple of off-the-cuff thoughts on the state of affairs in US politics: (As this is being written, there are reports of a minimum of 30,000 Trump hysterics and various bigots gathering in Washington DC to protest the certification of Biden’s election. More on that later.)
While it seems that both Democratic contenders won their runoff campaigns for election in Georgia, it’s clear that the particular brand of mass hysteria that Trump represents will not go away. In Pennsylvania, the Republican legislators refused to seat a Democratic colleague due to false claims of election fraud. From what I’m seeing, there was near pandemonium in the legislature. Meanwhile, polls show that something between 70-80% of Trump voters believe the election was stolen. Meanwhile, Biden seems to be the only one in the entire country (well, I know of one other person) who thinks the Republicans will return to what could be called “normalcy”. Nor will the Democrats’ victory in Georgia necessarily be repeated in other Republican strongholds. Black voters have been at the heart of Biden’s win in November, just as they were in Georgia last night. In Georgia, they make up a giant 30% of the electorate whereas nationally that figure is about 13%.
As we know, so far almost all the state secretaries of state, including the Republicans, have stood up to Trump’s pressure to defraud the voters of their votes. This is just one more example of Trump’s inability to take over every wing of the government. But we can expect elections for this office – which up until now has been largely technical – to become a lot more contentious, with outright fradusters taking office in the future. Then, there is likely to be genuine election fraud, perpetrated by Republicans.
I watched Stacey Abrams talk yesterday. (For those outside the US, she nearly got elected governor in Georgia in 2018 and she ran the entire operation to register and mobilize black and young voters in the state.) She is smart, speaks clearly and directly to the point, and her entire approach was smashingly successful – using music, food and enthusiasm and in general connecting with the culture in black communities. This is not meant to support her politically as she is at best a middle of the road liberal, but we have to give credit where it’s due. If the Democrats don’t elect her as chair of the national Democratic Party it will be just one more indication of their craven cowardice.
As for the challengers to Biden’s election that are coming today: the one I had not been aware of up until now is US Senator Josh Hawley, Republican from Missouri. He is a truly dangerous person, far more than is the incompetent idiot Trump. A year and a half ago he gave a speech before the National Conservatism Conference that sounded like something coming from the “anti-capitalist” (Strasser) wing of the Nazi Party. Not that he is a full Nazi, but his speech will have a similar appeal. Here’s a few excerpts: “the great divide of our time is between the political agenda of the leadership elite and the great and broad middle of our society…. For years the politics of both Left and Right have been informed by a political consensus that reflects the interests not of the American middle, but of a powerful upper class and their cosmopolitan priorities…. Call it the cosmopolitan consensus. On economics, this consensus favors globalization [shades of left rhetoric!]
“According to the cosmopolitan consensus, globalization is a moral imperative. That’s because our elites distrust patriotism and dislike the common culture left to us by our forbearers…. The cosmopolitan elite look down on the common affections that once bound this nation together: things like place and national feeling and religious faith….
“What they offer instead is a progressive agenda of social liberation in tune with the priorities of their wealthy and well-educated counterparts around the world….
“it has encouraged multinational corporations to move jobs and assets overseas to chase the cheapest wages and pay the lowest taxes….
“And where has this left middle America?
“With flat wages, with lost jobs, with declining investment and declining opportunity. We don’t make things here anymore—at least, not the kinds of things a normal person without a fancy degree can build with his hands….
“All the while an epidemic of suicide and drug addiction ravages every sector, every age group, every geography of the working class….”
The speech really should be read in its entirety, because it will resonate with tens of millions here, especially as Biden and the Democrats try their damndest to get along with the Republicans.
One other point about Hawley: He was the first US senator to publicly say he was going to challenge the elections, thereby winning the attention and affection of the Trump supporters. However, his challenge is not based on the fraudulent claims of a stolen election; it’s based on the claim that in Pennsylvania they illegally changed how the votes would be counted. None of Trump’s supporters will notice that he’s not really supporting Trump’s claims, and at the same time Hawley isn’t placing a target on his own back of furthering these lies.
Who knows what will happen with the Republicans? For now, they’re working together to endear themselves with the Trump base. Tomorrow, the knives will be out as they maneuver to be the 2024 Republican nominee for president. In addition to Hawley, we have Pence, Donald jr., Pompeo, Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. I’ve even seen speculation that Tucker Carleson or Joe Rogan may run. In any case, as an article in Atlantic magazine points out, Trump won partly because he had the luck to run against a particularly unappealing candidate, but overall he’s completely incompetent even as a demagogue. The next such demagogue won’t be so incompetent.
On the other side of the Republican party are the few mainstream conservatives left standing. They include the ever stupid Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney (daughter of “Bush’s Brain” and former VP Dick Cheney). Some are predicting that this wing may split, but how can that happen? They have their seats in office because their constituents automatically vote for the Republican candidate. If they split, they lose office. And anyway, what do they have to complain about? Where the Republicans are now is simply an adaptation by the “Southern Strategy” the Republicans adopted under Nixon to the present capitalist crisis. That appeal to former Democrat racists then also took in the evangelical hysteria plus law-and-order racist dog whistles and it finally really started to take off with the Tea Partiers.
Some may worry that CNN will return to its old boring self in place of the exciting reality-TV show it’s been recently. I think those people are much too pessimistic. There’s plenty of excitement still to come. Especially if and when a real working class movement develops.