by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog
The US economy is in such a dire state (if we may temporarily put down the newly-discovered problem of racism in the Western hemisphere (except for Cuba)) that US voters are going to be happy to sell themselves to the highest bidder come November. It’s not like anyone could get genuinely excited by Joe Biden, after all.
Trump has a huge advantage over Biden in that he can distribute money to voters today and until October – but does he realise that’s the only way to win re-election during this economic catastrophe?
The idea that the US economy has somehow stabilised – or even yet seen the worst – from the shock of three months (and counting) of corona overreaction is totally irrational. You can’t even put it into a single headline: Over 44 million unemployed people doesn’t include the absurd new stock market bubble, the “we’re done holding on” looming wave of bankruptcies in small businesses, the demand shock which is still omnipresent and solidifying with each passing day, the total lack of a corona exit strategy after the West rushed into the Great Lockdown out of a competitive idiocy that “whatever China’s system can do, we can do better”, and on and on and on.
It is thus little wonder that Americans have recently latched on to the far easier to grasp issues of colour-based racism and police brutality (which are also neutered of economics & class). But US cops murder Blacks all the time and that isn’t going away soon, sadly, and neither is the corona economic catastrophe.
So unlike other re-election campaigns this isn’t going to be just another referendum on the incumbent, as Democrats desperately wanted: amid such economic devastation the past will remain in the past until the issue of paying the bills at the end of this month gets sorted first. Fin du mois (end of the month) is the battle cry of the Yellow Vests, after all….
In late May I wrote August 1: when the unemployment runs out and a new era of US labor battles begin to stress how the US 1% made a huge tactical error amid the corona hysteria by granting $1,000 per week in unemployment benefits: that is better wages for half of America’s incredibly hard-working, zero-benefit receiving labor force. The 1% foolishly showed their hand: they are flush – absolutely flush with decades of productivity-produced profits, QE, compound interest, unearned rents, etc. – and now it’s crystal clear to all that they have been holding out. Anyone who says that the US “can’t afford” to extend unemployment past August 1 obviously has no idea what they are talking about economically – only 30% of the 2020 CARES package went to individuals, whereas 45% went to bosses big (corporate) and small (the Small Business Administration). More importantly: that 30% was the first “people’s QE” ever, so the percentage of “bailout money” gone to individuals since 2008 is roughly just a few percent.
This, and not racism, is the actual psychological basis for the recent US rebellions and prolonged anger: Americans are instructed to first “think race”, so that is what they ran to protest first, but they will eventually reach this higher level of economic understanding. The cultural reality is that the average American has been denied economic understanding; that their media is forbidden to discuss it – how could they ever immediately talk about I discussed in that article? They can’t – not without some violent rebellion first.
When the economic reality of America’s hoarded wealth does get discussed in an election context it portends a sea change in US politics, and not just labor battles.
The corona overreaction has created a situation where socialist “reverse patronage” is finally coming to America, and I say “good”: the power to hold a political seat should absolutely be based on how much you give back to the people – what else are Westerners paying so much taxes for? (In Western capitalism they are paying so much to keep the 1% in butter brickle, of course.)
Is Donald the man of the moment? After 3.5 years the answer has been: LOL, no
Maybe the problem all along has been this: Donald J. Trump actually does have principles, but they are bad ones?
We were right to pose the question: Considering his many bankruptcies, TV reality idiocies, sexual assault boasts, philandering and pandering racism (this list was not in any particular order nor exhaustive) I think we all were quite fair to assume that Trump was always only in it for Trump, and therefore he could maybe be a malleable instrument of the people’s will as the egomaniac would want to remain in the limelight via re-election.
Isn’t that why the Deep State went after him so quickly – because he dared to echo the common American’s call to reverse in free trade and foreign militarism? They were worried that the American people would finally have an idiot puppet to enforce their will, whereas the Deep State was used to having their own idiot puppets like Barack Obama, Dubya Bush and Ronald Reagan.
That assumed malleability gave two genuine reasons Trump truly was the “hope candidate” in the pathetic 2016 election: 1) Hillary Clinton was a proven warmonger and Deep State cheerleader, and 2) Trump was the first genuinely outsider politician since Andrew Jackson (I imagine it has been 3.5+ years since you were reminded of this comparison). It’s critical to always recall that Trump was emphatically rejected by the Republican Party until the very last moment, only six months before the November 2016 vote. Trump is not a “Republican”, and it’s only to keep a firm grip of party duopoly (and their need for a target for their American rage) that Democrats play along with this Republican-aiding fiction of Trump’s “mainstream-ness”.
I don’t think it’s appreciated enough that all bets are off: due to corona I am literally not accepting any more bets on the presidential election, because who knows what on earth is going to happen as a result of enforcing a multi-month pause to the capitalism-imperialism machine?! Could be World War III, could be a new era of peace and brotherhood.
But what appears certain is that working people (and that obviously includes the temporarily unemployed) deserve free lunches. Finally getting them some money back from a tax system which they have paid into is such a radical idea in neoliberal America that whoever proposes it will surely sweep into the White House. It’s amazing Biden hasn’t jumped all over this already – if only to make sure Trump does not – but then we remember that he is the senior senator from Delaware, one of the world’s biggest tax havens.
Can Trump put aside his conservative fiscal principles (if he we now believe that he has actual “principles” other than self-interest) to realise that extending unemployment is a sure-fire way to win votes?
To reformulate more accurately: Will we see a revival of the Trump who was willing to buck the Republican Party, a stance which got him elected in the first place?
In my second article on the corona crisis I seized upon this very idea – Trump as Huey Long: Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? Of course I did: as a socialist I cling to the very un-radical but very un-American belief that government leaders can actually design their policies with the lower classes in mind. Of course as someone who does not believe in Western liberal (aristocratic) democracy I am not a Trump supporter, I was and am merely a journalist commenting on the news and musing as to how history could maybe turn out.
The PR campaign for Trump writes itself: Vote for the man who kept you off the street after corona, and now let’s really drain the swamp.
The perhaps fatal flaw in my Long comparison is this: Trump has never been the outsider economic populist his anti-free trade stance indicated. Hopes that Trump is a real populist – which fake-leftist Democrats, the 1% and the MSM fear with such horror – have certainly not been redeemed. After 3.5 years we still have no proof that Trump is going to use his bloated executive powers (normal in the 21st century Western “liberal strongman” balance of power conception) to aid the lower classes.
I have read of Chinese analysts who say, “Well, maybe if Trump can get re-elected then he can finally shed the war hawks – forced on him via the Russophobia campaign – and get back to the art of the political deal.” That’s half-based on the same premise: that somewhere a populist, patriotic, non-warmongering Trump is hiding.
However, the other half of this analysis is based around the same “hope” of 2016: it’s better to have a wild and crazy hope like Trump than to continue with the depressing certainty of what a “mainstream” US president will surely wreak. Militarist “pivots to China” after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, bombing many Muslim countries and other such phoniness….
If Trump wants to win re-election – which seems impossible for an incumbent amid such Herbert Hoover-like devastation – Trump has to do a 180 and finally embrace his inner FDR… if there is one? It’s too bad a Hail Mary miracle pass is all you can hope for in the hopelessly reactionary American system.
But that’s really true of all Western liberal (aristocratic) democracy: if Marine Le Pen wins in 2022 we’ll likely be hoping for a very same political-deathbed conversion in 2026.
Corona is ruining Trump, yes, but he’s forgetting two key things: 1) it’s ruining absolutely everyone else, and 2) no citizen of the US has more power to act as a saviour than he does, as he is still the president.
If Trump can’t see that a simple (and equitable, and democratic) way to win re-election is by pacifying a rightly panicked populace with a continued good dole then… maybe he really is just an idiot? Or he’s just another American politician whose secret/subconscious economic ideology is the mainstream corporate fascism.
You can’t blame anyone anywhere for hoping against hope that’s not true.
Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.
A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020
– March 25, 2020
March 26, 2020
Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020
Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020
The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020
Why do Westerners assume all African-Americans are leftists? – June 5, 2020
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.