31 August 2020

Politics in the Trumpist Era

And my world continues to deteriorate. In connection with the “unrest” here in Portland it now appears that the altercation between two men that resulted in one man’s death was not connected with Trump’s Caravan of Fools. Aaron Danielson is—no, was—a fellow Portlander, though apparently a “supporter” (whatever that means) of the pro-fascist* Patriot Prayer outfit. (I don’t mean to defame the dead here, but that is being reported as a fact by supposedly reliable forces. And the pro-fascists are mourning him as one of their own.) Last night’s protest was allegedly declared an “unlawful assembly” by the police (I wasn’t there), and Governor Brown is calling in law enforcement agents from adjacent areas to aid the Portland police (that should go well). And at Wikipedia there is an ongoing debate about renaming the page about the protests the “2020 Portland riots” or something like that. Madness.

I haven’t seen this myself, but “people are saying” that Trump is describing the ongoing nationwide protests as a “coup.” That’s omnibus, as my roommate would say. When Trump misuses words like that it’s generally a sign of what he’s thinking of doing himself—and the way things look right now, a coup d’état is what it will take to keep him in office. A number of supposedly sober commentators have in fact been describing such an eventuality for some time now—Trump will declare martial law, Trump will cancel the elections, Trump will refuse to surrender the office—but without actually using the word. I—perhaps wrongly—don’t take that seriously, simply because Trump doesn’t have either the self-discipline or the nerve to carry out anything of the kind. I doubt very much that he has the support of a significant section of the military (or any other armed agency) which would be required to carry out any such extralegal operation.

What I think is going to happen, assuming that Biden actually manages to win this election, is that Trump will go mysteriously silent during the transition period, and that soon after Biden takes office he will issue a blanket pardon to Trump for any and all federal crimes he might or might not have committed with an admonishment that we should be looking toward the future, let bygones be bygones, and not rake over the coals of the past. Once “exonerated” Trump will launch his 2024 campaign for president to the rapturous applause of the magaheads and the bickering of the Democrats who are hamstrung in their efforts to deal with the full-blown depression and the ongoing pandemic by the opposition of the Republicans, leading to massive Republican victories in 2022 and 2024.

Alternatively this could be one of those realignment moments in American politics, if the neverTrumpers stay with the conservative Democrats, allowing the Democrats to dump the progressives altogether and leaving the Republicans an eviscerated husk. That would be great for the point one percent and suck for the vast majority of Americans, but sans revolution that would seem the most likely outcome with this development

But major realignments in American politics are once-in-a-lifetime sort of events, and I’ve already seen one of them. A crushing Trump defeat might lead to a collapse of the present Cottonhead party and a return of the neverTrumpers to reform the Republicans as a Conservative party. Conceivably that might push the Democrats leftward more towards mainline America and stave off a likely progressive split. But as I say, I don’t consider any of this at all likely. The odds are against it. But sometimes events do defy the odds—look at the 2016 election.

Anyway, I would guess that Trump is mulling over the possibility of staging a coup, which he won’t have the nerve to undertake. In the meantime he will accuse his opponents, real and imaginary, of planning a coup, because that’s how his mind—such as it is—works. But in the backchannels of American politics he’ll be holding the threat of insurrection up as a threat while angling for a pardon—or other favors.

Mind you, all this is assuming that Biden wins. I still have trouble wrapping my mind around that possibility.

*On this site the term “pro-fascist” is used to designate opponents of various anti-fascist groups, to avoid the cumbersome expression “anti-anti-fascist”

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