SYNDICATED COLUMN: Please Stop the Fear and Loathing of 2017

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I admit it: it’s hard to find empathy for the liberal Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton and are now shocked, shocked, shocked that That Horrible Man Donald Trump is about to become president. We lefties kept saying (and liberals kept scoffing) that Bernie would have beaten Trump; now that we’ve been proven right it’s only natural to want to keep rubbing the Hillarites’ faces in their abject wrongness.

But what’s the point? Empirical evidence can’t convince a squishy liberal to move left. Liberals are congenitally attached to the big status quo, the capitalist system itself. Unlike leftists, liberals just want to reform capitalism into something less savage. This, of course, is impossible. Yet liberals’ fears — of revolution, of violence, of the chance they’ll lose their current status — block their ability to see the truth.

Anyway, many of my best friends are liberals. And they’re terribly depressed at the prospect of four to eight years of President (or more for President-for-life) Trump.

I hate to see so many people so miserable (even though the very same people gloated over their Bernie-supporting brethren’s pain last May). More importantly, they’re right about Trump. He is a dangerous mofo for sure. We on the left, accustomed to do all the protesting and carrying on ourselves, are going to need all the help we can get from sad Hillary Clinton Democrats to take on Trump, his Republican House, his Republican Senate, his soon-to-be Republican Supreme Court and, oh yeah, his thousands of police departments, soldiers and killer drones.

So this, my dear dismayed Democrats, is for you. Things will be OK — eventually. Between now and then, they’re going to get a lot worse. But those eventual improvements will only come about if you buck up, roll up your sleeves and prepare for a lot of hard work.

The first thing I want you to understand is, there are no quick fixes to Trumpism.            You already saw the futility of silly games like asking the Electoral College to throw the election after the fact. Only two “faithless electors” defected from Trump; five dumped Hillary! Also, please stop thinking Trump will be impeached. It’s technically possible, but highly improbable since no president has ever faced impeachment by a Congress controlled by his own party. The system will not correct itself. The system is broken; that’s why Trump won.

So what to do? Work outside the system. Resistance must take many forms, but creating a crisis of governance by militant — i.e., unpermitted, uncooperative — action in the streets is essential to dislodging the tyranny which many of us suspect Trump will bring into being. But not yet. First, we must allow the system’s failure to become evident for all to see.

As Che Guevara wrote: “Where a government has come into power through some form of popular vote, fraudulent or not, and maintains at least an appearance of constitutional legality, the guerrilla outbreak cannot be promoted since the possibilities of peaceful struggle have not yet been exhausted.”

At first, the left-liberal anti-Trump coalition must keep its powder dry. Let Trump and his junta cabinet of ultra-right generals and billionaires commit their atrocities. Let the media report on them, with little result. Watch Congress fail to exercise its constitutionally mandated oversight. Count on Democratic resistance that never materializes. See the Supreme Court validate some of Trump’s horrors and reject others only to be ignored and thus exposed as impotent.

Those of us who follow politics closely know that Trump is a fascist-in-waiting. Most Americans, however, are in wait-and-see mode. If we protest too early (c.f., the anti-Trump demonstrations following Election Day), people won’t support us. Let the possibilities of peaceful struggle exhaust themselves first.

Another advantage of waiting is that it allows us to study our incoming enemy. Trump will inherit Obama’s police state. But he will alter its structure, tactics and strategies in ways no one can predict with certainty. We’re outarmed, outequipped and outnumbered. Let’s watch, and wait to see what we’re up against before lashing out.

Here I take a cue from the Afghans. Poor and remote, these fierce people have repeatedly repelled invasion forces launched by far richer, better-equipped enemies: Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States. When foreign armies arrive, the Afghans melt away into the mountains. They let their adversaries settle into Kabul and other cities. They study them, poking and prodding in search of weaknesses. Then, when the time is right — typically many years after the other side declared “victory” — the Afghans unleash a ferocious assault that drives out the interlopers.

Trump was born in Queens. But it helps to think of him as an invader. His mish-mash protofascism, ferocious gracelessness and aversion to linear thinking or consistency are foreign to American politics and culture. He doesn’t belong here. He’s un- and anti-American. He’s got to go.

But we have to be smart about this. That starts with you liberal Democrats: stop staring down the barrel of 2017 with fear and loathing. It’s time to start planning.

We have to take our country back.

(Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

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12 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Please Stop the Fear and Loathing of 2017

  1. «Trump was born in Queens. But it helps to think of him as an invader. His mish-mash protofascism, ferocious gracelessness and aversion to linear thinking or consistency are foreign to American politics and culture. He doesn’t belong here. He’s un- and anti-American. He’s got to go.» Ted, that’s the sort of self-serving reasoning that I’m a tad surprised – and disappointed – to find you indulging in. Joseph Raymond McCarthy was born in Grand Chute Wisconson ; was his «mish-mash protofascism, ferocious gracelessness and aversion to linear thinking or consistency … foreign to American politics and culture» ? Were the Know Nothings foreign to that politics and culture ? To my mind, none of the above are foreign to US culture and politics ; rather they constitute a long-standing and abiding thread in the weave of that culture. The task of the left and progressives in general is rather to realise and accept that fact and to combat that thread – whether examples go by the name of Donald John Trump or Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton – wherever they raise their ugly faces….

    Henri

    • Indeed, Henri,

      Herr Hair (aka Trump) is politically no worse that the standard Republican (or a lot of Dems.)

      He does suffer from what might be called political Tourette’s syndrome that prevents him from obscuring the fact by mouthing the standard GOP language code.

      And the evident fascist characteristics in American society did not appear fully developed with Herr Hair. It’s been a steady strangulation of the grand experiment in self-governance since our hostile take-over from the Nazi’s.

      How DOES an allegedly “democratic” system survive while adoring the fiercely & proudly anti-democratic institutions of religion, the military and capitalism?

      • «How DOES an allegedly “democratic” system survive while adoring the fiercely & proudly anti-democratic institutions of religion, the military and capitalism?» It doesn’t, falco, it doesn’t. But of course, the system in question was far from «democratic» at its inception ; whatever elements of democracy it contains were forced upon it, against fierce and determined resistance by those who benefited from the then-current system (and, of course, as always, those duped into supporting a system not in their own interest). The extension of voting rights in the aftermath of the US Civil War is a case in point, as is the struggle between those who would revoke these gains and those who seek to maintain and further extend them during the following century and a half….

        Henri

  2. This column is deeply disturbing. You warn of “atrocities” and then invoke Che Guevara. But I’m a gracious man, so I’ll assume you just don’t know much about him rather than the alternative explanation that you are willfully holding a monster up as a hero. Young Ernesto was a man of privilege as is so often the case with prominent Marxists. He tortured animals. He abused the very same poor working people that he later claimed to fight for; as a teenager he raped his servants.

    During the Cuban Revolution he wrote his father, “I really like killing.” Indeed he did, often personally executing his victims, including children. At least Fidel was utilitarian in his killing. Guevara was pyschopathic.
    In the end he was far too bloodthirsty for his own good. Too radical for Khrushchev, who did not want the nuclear conflagration Che was determined to pull him into, Fidel was told to cut Che loose.

    Since you bring up Che though, it reminds me of how Fidel lied in the beginning, saying he was pro-democracy and anti-Communist. Then I thought, hey, you all might end up pleasantly surprised! Maybe Trump is really a crypto-Communist too!

  3. The Clintonbots on gocomics say it’s all your fault.

    You had St Hillary, who promised war with Russia, toppling the evil regime and restoring democracy, or the demon Trump, and you did not reiterate that every decent American MUST vote for St Hillary, the best candidate for president since George (Hanover). So it’s all your fault.

    (Of course, some think that the Brits had a choice between sanity and madness, and they chose madness, while we Americans had a choice between the frying pan and the fire, and we chose to be fried one way or the other.)

  4. Ted,

    Your analysis of the HRC liberals leaves out a crucial factor. You ask what the point would be of rubbing their faces in their loss. As you say yourself, they aren’t going to change. They simply don’t grasp that animal aspect of survival. They can’t comprehend the idea that in a fight, you fight to kill. They still think, off in some corner, that this all something with rules and governing bodies and so forth. And these people will get all of us killed because, as you put it, they are squishy. In politics, you can’t be wrong and loud all the time. And the squishy liberals have been wrong and loud for a long time. Incrementalism didn’t work. Losing the unions didn’t work. Trying to “work across the aisle” didn’t work (because there were never any repercussions for when the other side wasn’t working across the aisle). Supporting a carpetbagger candidate who never met an issue she couldn’t take different stances on to suit the audience she was hitting up for large-dollar donors? The liberals have been getting it wrong for decades. Someone should tell them to pour themselves a nice big cup of shut the hell up already because they take up the space and time that more progressive, more rational voices could be having on the national stage.

    Here’s a simple case of that: the HRC crowd will spend an eternity explaining about Obamacare and how it’s good, not perfect, and baby steps and all that. A progressive will say, Canada has universal health, as do most of the nations in Europe. Why shouldn’t America have at least what France and Canada and Germany and Spain and …. and Norway have? Which sounds more rational to you? Introducing a system that is already being used successfully in dozens of countries or inventing a mishmash of “marketplaces” and when the whole thing blows up in your face, continuing to try to tweak it?

    As for Trump. I simply don’t think Trump is that big of a risk. Why? I have read story after story (I will not call them articles.) For the most part, they all follow this basic theme: Trump is Hitler. He will have us all in concentration camps within six months of his oath of office. And he eats babies. He wants to start an atomic war and will as soon as he gets hold of the nuclear launch codes. And his hair looks stupid.

    Go on. Get a list going of all the things the solons have said about Trump. List them all. Every dire prediction. They can’t all be correct. Why? Because some of the predictions are mutually exclusive. Trump can’t be Russia’s lapdog if he’s going to start an atomic war with them. Trump is going to erect a police state? But Ted himself mentioned that he’s inheriting the one he got from Obama. The police state was already here. Has been since “free speech zones” were erected around 2003 or so (earlier than that, but after 9/11, it really started going). Trump’s going to start registering Muslims? All you have to do is call up a direct-mailing company and order a list of names! What are you talking “start registering.” Ring. Ring. “Yeah. Hi. I want to start a direct marketing campaign aimed at Muslim males, ages 18 to 35. How much is that per 1,000 names? Do you take MasterCard? Great. And can I get that broken down further? Really? How far? Wow! What’s that? Facebook has even finer data? But only for online? Well, if I expand, I’ll want an online presence, but direct mailing is better for now.”

    If I were running the opposition to Trump, I would be organizing get out the vote drives. I’d do it like the Mormons do. Twenty conversations a day, and I’d use every gimmick I could think of to motivate people to convert to the Progressive cause. I’d show up at ERs. Wow? Been waiting four hours? Bet it’s gonna cost a fortune, too. Ever hear of single payer? It’s what they have in Canada. Got a mobile phone? Here’s a URL. Take a look while you wait. Oh, here comes security. Their for-profit masters don’t like it when I try to educate people.

  5. I gotta agree, Ted – the system is broken, and we’re not going to fix it until people wake up Or rather, I should say, “if” people wake up.

    My biggest fear is the Supreme Court. It’s already been given over to right-wing wackjob activist judges – Trump’s pick will only make it worse. The dummycrats *could* take a page out or the enemy’s playbook, we can’t get a new judge until we’ve got a new prez in 2020. I’d love to see it, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • The Republicans told Obama he couldn’t exercise the power of his office to appoint a judge to the Supreme Court.

      Obama, allegedly the most powerful man on earth, just nodded to say “OK. I’m cool with that,” and all of his liberal followers said “If he’s cool with that, then I’m cool with that too.”

      The Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 to make George W. Bush president, despite the Constitution not giving the Federal Court jurisdiction over the State Court, and the Supreme Court writing in that decision that their decision should not be used as a precedent in future elections because, I assume, they could find no Constitutional basis with which to justify it; and no declaration of war has been issued since 1941; and yet the electoral college, standing with distinction among Constitutional imperatives remains sacrosanct because of its ability to award the office to the loser of the popular vote.

      I point this out, not because I favored Hillary or Trump for president, but because lawless extra-constitutionality has been running rampant for decades; and yet the Constitution is too frequently interpreted to support the interests of our native economic aristocracy—degenerated, as it is, into oligarchy.

      Whatever disruptions to normality that occur during Trump’s term of office, I believe it will be better to lance the boil sooner rather than later because there is no way to postpone the inevitable for four more years when today’s festering problems left unresolved cannot help but lead to greater adverse consequences if left untended.

      And who knows what accommodations Trump may make to his Trumpen Proletariat? Trump may turn out to be the proverbial irritating grain of sand that is like the seed of an oyster’s pearl in organizing a unifying political opposition— should he engage in overtly unlawful extra-constitutionality—that changes our national politics, and Constitution interpretations, possibly, hopefully, in the end, toward greater justice.

      • ” because lawless extra-constitutionality has been running rampant for decades”

        ay-yup. And the next decade promises to be interesting as well.

      • extra constitutional goes back, at the very least, to Jefferson and the Louisiana purchase. The beginning of the Imperial President. Went into overdrive under Andrew Jackson. OF course, selective, it’s not used all the time. Obama only sometimes used it, sometimes he let the Senate do what they wanted, like with the Supreme Court. And Clinton let the Supreme Court install a president. Andrew Jackson would have told them to go fuck themselves, like he did when he wanted to commit genocide against the native americans. The essential point I guess is that the constitution is meaningless. Completely.

      • @suetonius17

        I agree that the Constitution is as meaningless as any other contract is; but a contract is grounds for negotiation between people who seek to come to an agreement that negotiates benefits attained with the minimum use of violence needed to attain it.

        When all willingness to resort to and to initiate violence is monopolized by one side, that side is known as the law. Most people do not like to be in the midst of violence, but like to be spectator to violence from a distance, without skin in the game, and so prefer a loss in negotiation to a loss in a violent confrontation.

        It is best when both sides to a contractual agreement have some law on their side, but as Nixon asked in response to an order from the Supreme Court, “How many divisions does the Supreme Court have?”

        It would be good for the people to have a better contract with the aristocracy, but that would require some power of enforcement on each side.

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