- The Republicans’ “team normal” reveal Trump’s crimes.
- U.S. capitalist rule based on “rule of law” and recognition of science, within limits.
- The “team normal and Democratic alliance to remove “the cause of the cancer”, AKA Trump.
- Trump as a result of but not the essential cause of the crisis.
Some useful information did emerge from the second day of the hearings of House January 6 investigation committee. The information helps us understand who from within the Trump circle opposed the January 6 coup attempt and why. However, in the end, what also emerged was the illusory strategy of the Democrats.
Caste of Characters
The testimony of former Trump absolute loyalists was featured again. These included former attorney general Bill Barr, former Trump campaign manager and then White House political director Bill Stepien, and former Fox News director Chris Stirewalt. Let’s consider them in reverse order:
Stirewalt was fired after Fox made the early, and correct, projection that Biden would win Arizona. This made it difficult for Trump to call for the end of all vote counting. To a degree, Stirewalt is a professional who was proud of the metrics he’d developed for making such projections.
Stepien’s long career as a Republican political consultant is based accurate readings of both polls and vote count results as they come in. He understood the phenomenon of the “red wave” and explained it to Trump. This term refers to the fact that Democratic voters tend to vote by mail whereas Republicans tend to vote on election day. Since the latter votes are usually counted first, the illusion can develop that a Republican candidate will win when they actually will not. Trump did not want to hear this and fell out with Stepien.
Barr and his Department of Justice (DOJ) had investigated all the various fraud claims – that a suitcase of ballots had been hidden under a table in Atlanta, that boxes of fake ballots had been delivered in Detroit, etc. Barr and his replacement, acting Attorney General Richard Donaghue, debunked each one of these claims with Trump. As Barr said, it was like playing whack-a-mole; after each claim was refuted, Trump would raise another one.
$250 Million Slush Fund
One other interesting detail emerged: Trump started a fund whose supposed purpose was to oppose the “fake” results. He raised $250 million for that fund, but nobody knows where most of it went. Trump loyalist Mark Meadows got $1 million. Several million were spent to help finance the January 6 coup attempt/riot, but the rest? The best guess is that it went into Trump’s pocket.
Remove the “Cancer”?
Part of the purpose of the hearings is revealed by what Barr said: “There was never an indication [by Trump] of interest as far as the what the actual facts were” In other words, Trump knew the claims were lies and he consciously perpetuated these lies. This makes him criminally liable for trying to subvert the election result for “corrupt purposes”. It also means that the $250 million he raised was done fraudulently. If Trump can be indicted and convicted, he would not be eligible to run again in 2024.
CNN commentators also revealed this as being one of the purposes of the hearings. Gloria Borger asked whether Trump should be legally barred from running for president again. Republican lawyer George Conway explained that this testimony was a first step in “proving a criminal case” against Trump. “The true cancer here is the fraud of Trump,” said John King, CNN newscaster. Not only the Big Lie, but also the $250 million. “At what point does lying to raise political money become criminal?” Conway asked .
The premise for all of this is that if Trump is removed from control of the Republican Party, then things will return to normal. The second premise is that the evidence that was revealed will actually have an impact on voters. Both of these premises ignore the fact that Trump is just the resting place (for now) of a long process. He may have vastly accelerated this process, but he is not its cause.
Trump Not the Cause
Politically, the Republicans consciously started down that road with Richard
Nixon’s “southern strategy”. Realizing that the Democrats’ (reluctant but unavoidable) partial support for the civil rights movement of the 1960s would alienate many committed racists in the South, Nixon turned his party on the path of wooing them. He used the dog whistle of “law and order” and the supposed threat of violent criminals. His successor, George H. W. Bush, took it a step further, when he won the presidency in 1988. Bush largely won that election by featuring the case of one particular black criminal, Willie Horton. Trump simply carried such appeals to a new level, making bigotry and political violence respectable again.
Now that the hounds have been released from the kennel, they will not go back in so quietly. Trump may be the leader of the pack, but there are a whole group of others perfectly willing and able to take up the lead should Trump disappear from the scene for any reason.
Careers Based on “Rule of Law”
So what really upsets these prominent Republicans with whom the Democrats have allied?
It is not the actual subversion of the election process. After all, the 2000 Bush campaign did so by getting the real vote count process in Florida thrown out. And the chief lawyer for that was Ben Ginsberg, who is now aligned with the rest of “team normal” as Barr called his grouping. Or consider Liz Cheney. Now she is probably Trump’s enemy #1, but she supported him in 2020, even after he had already announced that he would not respect any election outcome other than his own victory. And overall the Republicans know that their positions on many issues (minimum wage, taxing the rich, abortion) are unpopular so they must try to suppress the vote and pass laws subverting the counting of the vote.
As with the great majority of prominent attorneys in the US, Barr and Donaghue have long careers based on the actual (capitalist) legal system in the US. That is what they mean by “rule of law”. Absolutely central to this “rule of law” is the “orderly transition” of the presidency. If all of this breaks down, how can any capitalist navigate the financial and political system? In the end, they would be subject to the whims of one person – the president – rather than the established rules of the (capitalist) game.
It is similar with Stepien and Stirewalt. Their careers serve to provide a certain momentum. It’s like an ocean liner. Once under way, it’s not so easy to just completely change course. Or consider Liz Cheney: She voted against the first impeachment attempt of Trump. She supported him for reelection despite the fact that he made clear that he would not accept anything other than a victory. It was only the Trump-inspired complete breakdown of the “rule of law” on January 6 that turned her against Trump
Trump proved himself willing to not simply subvert but outright overthrow the “rule of law” lock, stock and barrel. That was the breaking point. Even for the Democrats, the “rule of law” only exists within limits. They basically have done nothing about police lawlessness, except when the pressure from below becomes too great. It is the same for corporate law breaking, including wage theft, for example (which is not even a crime in the same way that other forms of theft are). It is the same for corporate violation of the few and weak environmental regulations and laws.
Belief in Science
Commenting after the hearing, John King referred to the “mistrust in science (and) mistrust in the rule of law.” In other words, he drew a direct connection between the two. Mystical, semi-hysterical thinking has become an actual barrier to the smooth functioning of capitalism, as anti-mask and anti-vaccine hysteria revealed. CNN news anchor John King made the direct connection.
Ignoring science as far as wearing masks and getting vaccinated for covid causes an immediate crisis, including a threat to profits. And following that science doesn’t cut into their free use of capital almost any way they like. So they want people to observe this part of science. But just as there are limits to observing the “rule of law” – even capitalist law – there are limits to following science. After all, the real disaster that science is pointing towards is the environmental disaster, the first of which is global climate disaster. All reputable scientists are pointing to a very small window of time that we as human society have to reverse the increasing release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But actually doing that is a step too far since it disrupts immediate profits and threatens the very basis of capitalism, which is the free movement of capital. So that science must be ignored.
So we can see that it is the very basis of capitalist development that has led to the crisis of Trump. Trump, himself, will go away, but that crisis will continue to grow and metastasize as long as its cause remains. That cause is the mode of functioning of the capitalist system.