The eve of destruction?

Donald Trump’s increasingly outrageous statements that seem aimed at deliberately alienating, Mexicans, Hispanics, women, the disabled, Jews, Muslims, Asians, and god knows who else (it is hard to keep score), is now leading Republicans to increasingly distance themselves from him. The chorus of Republican condemnations of Trump is steadily increasing in volume. Mike Fernandez, a wealthy Miami patron of the Republican party and Jeb Bush supporter, has said that he would vote for Hillary Clinton over Trump and is running ads against him. Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania and secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, has said that there is not a chance that he will support Trump if he is the party’s nominee.

Things have got so bad that some Republicans are floating the idea that Trump is secretly a Democratic plant. This rumor started way back in July but is gaining steam now that Trump seems unstoppable. Even Jeb Bush is floating the idea that Trump may be a plant though that seems awkward given his statement that he will support the eventual Republican nominee whoever it is. Bush squares that circle by flatly declaring that Trump will not be the nominee, thus there will be no problem.

The idea of Trump and the Democratic party playing such a long and deep game is preposterous for two reasons. First, it is hard to imagine that a person like Trump, a well known egomaniac from long ago, would be willing to serve as a mere pawn in someone else’s chess game, to be sacrificed at a late stage to give Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party an easy win. Second, the idea of the Democratic party having the wit and skill to pull off a long con like this is risible. What the two parties are good at is presenting a united front to mask oligarchic control of the system and taking the nation into disastrous wars. They are not so good at petty Machiavellian maneuvering for partisan gain and keeping those actions secret, the unraveling of Watergate being a prime example..

With all the attention being paid to Trump’s actions, we should not forget that he is not the biggest problem facing the American body politic. He is not the cause of this situation, he is a symptom of a disease that has infected the country and is causing so much concern that people like Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, who are not normally prone to hyperbole, are extremely alarmed and drawing parallels to the period of political breakdown that occurred just before the Civil War and led to that conflict.

For reasons hard to fathom, the Republicans seem to have made up their minds: they will divide, degrade and secede from the Union.

Turn on your TV or computer, pick up a paper or magazine and you can see and hear them baying at the moon.

They will do so with bullying, lies and manipulation, a willingness to say anything, no matter how daft or wrong. They will do so by spending unheard of sums to buy elections with the happy assistance of big business and wealthy patrons for whom the joys of gross income inequality are a comfortable fact of life. By gerrymandering and denying the vote to as many of the poor, the elderly, struggling low-paid workers, and people of color as they can. And by appealing to the basest impulses of human nature: anger, fear and bigotry.

Turn on your TV or computer, pick up a paper or magazine and you can see and hear them baying at the moon. Donald Trump is just the most outrageous and bigmouthed of the frothing wolf pack of deniers and truth benders. As our friend and colleague Tom Engelhardt of TomDispatch writes, “There’s nothing, no matter how jingoistic or xenophobic, extreme or warlike that can’t be expressed in public and with pride by a Republican presidential candidate.”

Just four-and-a-half years ago, Washington mainstays Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein shocked the inside-the-Beltway establishment (especially the press, with its silent pact to speak no evil of wrongdoers lest they deny you an interview) when they published their book, It’s Even Worse than It Looks. The two esteemed political scientists wrote, “The Republican Party has become an insurgent outlier – ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

All of these sad examples are but symptoms of a deeper disease – the corruption and debasement of society, government and politics. It is a disease that eats away at the root and heart of what democracy is all about. Remember the opening phrase of the Preamble to the Constitution committing “We, the People” to the most remarkable compact of self-government ever – for the good of all? The Republicans are shredding that vision as they make a bonfire of the hopes that inspired it and, in the process, reduce the United States to a third-rate, sorry excuse for a nation.

Why? For an analogy and an answer we have to go back to the slave-holding Democrats of the 1840s and 50s who were prepared to destroy the Union if necessary to protect and expand the brutal system of human slavery on which their economy and way of life were built. The extremism and polarization engendered made it impossible for politics peacefully to resolve the moral dilemma facing our country. If the Republicans – and the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln — had not championed and fought to preserve the Union and its government, the United States would have been no more.

Now it is the Republicans who are willing to wreck the country to maintain the gross inequality that divides us – inequality which rewards the party leaders and their donors, just as slavery rewarded white supremacists. They would tear the Republic apart, rip to pieces its already fragile social compact, and reap the whirlwind of a failed experiment in self-government. [My emphasis-MS]

Are things really that bad? Even if we have not plumbed those depths yet, events are undoubtedly headed in that direction.


  1. busterggi says

    It’s not too late -- Bob Newhart could still wake up and discover that it’s all been a dream.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    So if I was an evil genius — and I was Donald Trump — but I repeat myself.

    Let’s assume he gets the nomination. I find it hard to believe someone like that would go to all that effort, just to get a McCarthy-style drubbing in the polls. I suspect he’s already rummaging around in the Richard Nixon bag of dirty tricks.

    The most obvious would be a good old October surprise — not necessarily of Hillary herself. The problem with the Clintons is that they’ve never met a millionaire they didn’t want to schmooze. Remember how Bill Ayers got paraded around, when he was barely an Obama acquaintance? There will be a long procession of Clinton donors and buddies, people whose house they’ve stayed at, who have done questionable things. I expect, for instance, that we’ll hear a whole lot more about Jeffery Epstein. Alas, the Big Bucket of Clinton Scandal will probably never be fully exhausted.

    If that doesn’t work, there’s something even sneakier that I’d do if I was completely unethical and determined to win at any cost, and I was way behind in the polls. I would attempt to rig the election — in Hillary’s favor. I’d try to bribe some election officials through sleazy middlemen, get some homeless folks to vote twice for her, maybe even hack a voting machine or two.

    Obviously, this would blow up — there’s no way this kind of chicanery would go undetected. But the ever-cowardly media wouldn’t dare come right out and say “This looks like a false-flag operation.” They’d go mealy-mouthed with “reports of voting irregularities” and try to bury the story, which would play right into my hands. Then, if I was Trump, my “concession” speech would go something like this:

    “Brothers and sisters, the media have told you that I’ve lost this election, 58%-40%. They’ve told you that this election was a blowout. But they haven’t said much about [insert irregularities here]. With questions like these about this election coming up just within the first few hours, can we really trust any of these so-called ‘election results’?

    Friends, I’ve been saying this all along: the liberals are trying to steal your country from you. And now they think they’ve succeeded. But will you let them cheat their way back into the White House, for another four years to finish the destruction that Obama began? I think not!

    It’s time to take back our country by any means necessary! We’re armed, we’re the majority, and we carry the spirit of the original patriots who first were willing to shed blood for freedom! Who’s going to stop us? The liberals? They’re allergic to the mere thought of our guns. The police or army? The liberals have declared war on them, too — they’ll be on our side! Get your weapons, drive to Washington, and we’ll give those socialists the surprise of their lives!”

    Do I think this course of action is likely? No, I hope I’m not that paranoid. But within the realm of consideration? I literally cannot believe that any tactic is beneath this man. He has been systematically grooming his followers to be immune to all forms of “facts” and “evidence,” ever since his Birther days — these are the people who believed Mitt Romney was going to win in a landslide, and he’s made their bubble even thicker. And remember how fond Republicans are of blaming their opponents for the things they themselves like to do, and then think about how often they like to make the “false flag” accusation.

    The worst thing is, “Trump: The Civil War” isn’t even the worst-case scenario. That would be “Trump: The Coup.” Everyone always says “It can’t happen here” until it does.

  3. says

    It’s not clear to me, though, what will happen when real voting starts taking place. Delegates are assigned based on (some sort of approximation of) the proportion of the vote they get (from what I can tell). So will Trump even be able to get 50% of the delegates with support at around 30%? What will the other candidates do when they have only gotten a few delegates? Which ones will surge as the lower candidates really start dropping out? If Trump has topped out now with all the crazies he’s going to get, the rest of the support will go elsewhere. Then the question becomes whether it all goes to one person, or continues to be split multiple ways.

    I suspect there is a good chance that nobody will go into the convention with enough delegates to win outright. Then a brokered convention could get really interesting.

  4. brucegee1962 says

    Remember the “super delegates” who represent, not the voters, but various constituencies within the party. They’re quite unlikely to go for Trump.

    But what would his followers do if he went to the convention with a plurality of the popular vote, but then did not end up with the nomination? I’d rather not find out.

  5. Who Cares says

    I agree with most of that article except a bit in bold at the end.
    Lincoln did not fight to preserve the Union. In fact until the Fort Sumter incident there was agreement that the secession of the south was legal.
    To put it bluntly there were other reasons why he did so.
    One of the more compelling ones was that the northern oligarchy was seeing a cash cow dry up, seeing that the south was providing 2/3 of the federal income while 2/3 of the federal expenses went to the north.
    This is further supported by the fact that Lincoln was trying to get the south to stay in the Union by supporting a constitutional amendment that would have enshrined slavery in the constitution. The main reason the south didn’t agree to that was that it would limit it to the states that currently allowed slavery, they wanted future states to ‘benefit’ as well while the north would rather not have new states being polluted by negroes.
    The other main point was that they’d didn’t get the reduction in federal tariffs that were slowly strangling the economy of the south.

  6. moarscienceplz says

    given his statement that he will support the eventual Republican nominee whoever it is.

    And we know he will because he never lies!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *