By Roger D. Harris
Posted on August 4, 2016 by the Communications Committee
This article first appeared at Dissident Voice on July 22.
With Friends Like His, Trump Doesn’t Need Enemies
The nation’s highest ranking Republican and current Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, is "one of the leading Trump-sceptics." Trump’s former Republican rival Gov. Kasich of Ohio declined to immediately endorse him, and his main rival Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has yet to endorse him.
Former Trump opponents Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky are now tepid Trump supporters, but not before commenting (respectively) that Trump is a "cancer on conservatism," "painfully naïve," and "a delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag".
With friends like that, Trump doesn’t need enemies. But unfortunately for the immodest billionaire he has plenty of them on the Republican side of the isle. GOP luminaries, who now find themselves in the "never Trump" camp include 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney who accuses Trump of "trickle-down racism." The Bush bunch – Jeb, W, and HW – have washed their hands of the Trumpster.
Leading the neoconservative stampede to the Clinton camp is foreign policy pundit Robert Kagan and former Reagan official and convicted criminal Elliott Abrams. Even Dr. Strangelove – aka Republican statesman or war criminal (take your pick, depending on your political proclivities)Henry Kissinger – has the hots for Hillary. And wouldn’t you, if endless war were your passion?
Politico reports: "Representatives of Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists who helped to bankroll the rise of the tea party, warned the brothers could sit out the presidential campaign entirely — or even back Hillary Clinton."
Prominent right-wing pundits find Trump as repugnant as do progressives, but for different reasons. Talk show host Glen Beck recently left the Republican Party in a fit of libertarian disgust. Beck accuses Trump of such apostasies as formerly being a registered Democrat, opposing the invasion of Iraq, and calling for the impeachment of President Bush. Worse of all, continues Beck, Trump was "considerably to the left of Hillary and Obama ... proposed a wealth tax."
Other prominent right-wing pundits denouncing Trump include Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard, George Will of Fox News, Jonah Goldberg of the National Review, and the list goes on.
Servant of the Ruling Class
The ruling elites want a president who will carry their water by supporting a neo-liberal agenda of austerity for working people at home, imperialism abroad, and surveillance of everyone. In Clinton they have a proven servant.
Wall Street and other major financial interests didn’t reward Mrs. Clinton with $9,680,000 (2013 tax returns) in speaking fees because of her congenial personality, but because the 1% are confident that she’ll deliver the goods for them. To put those astronomical speaking fees in perspective, Clinton made more money in a single year for a relatively few hours of work than what a fulltime minimum wage worker in the US would make in 642 years.
Ruling Class to Trump: You’re Fired
Further, the ruling class needs a chief executive of capital who can legitimize their con game. In Barack Obama, they had the perfect neo-liberal snake oil salesman. Obama goes to Hiroshima, piously utters some platitudes about the horrors of nuclear war and, at the same time, plans "sweeping nuclear modernizations that include improved weapons, bombers, missiles and submarines ... estimated to cost up to $1 trillion." Imagine the deafening caterwaul from liberals – instead of indifferent silence – had a Trump presidency made a similar proclamation.
For that reason alone – the legitimacy card – Trump is entirely unsuitable for being the retainer for the corporations. Recall how the anti-Iraq war movement disappeared the instant Bush’s war became Obama’s war. Former anti-war leaders quickly changed their tune, admonishing the movement to "give Obama a chance." A similar misplaced courtesy would not be Mr. Trump’s fate.
A Trump Presidency
Ironically the ruling elites probably understand better than progressives how Trump would not be able to govern effectively precisely because he would provoke massive grassroots opposition.
In a perverse way, a Trump presidency – although it will not happen – could promote opposition to racism and xenophobia among comfortable liberals. Every ugly slur that Trump utters about immigrants is jumped upon – and deservedly so. Yet the current Democrat in the White House has the distinction of deporting more immigrants than any Republican and gets a pass.
Still a Trump victory, even if it generated massive blowback, is nothing to wish for. Trump would also precipitate an orgy of white nationalist chauvinism and bring this ugly underbelly even more into the open.
The Logic of the Two-Party System
In a two-party winner-take-all electoral system such as we have in the US, the logic is for each of the contestants to appear as similar to each other as possible.
For example, I’ve asked any number of politically engaged folks what were the substantive policy differences in that fateful Bush/Gore contest beyond perceived image differences. And no one could come up with any…because Bush and Gore competed with each other over how much the war budget should be increased, both were opposed to bringing the Kyoto climate accords to a vote before the Senate, both proposed tax relief and reducing the budget, etc.
The stiflingly prudent logic of a US two-party strategy is to moderate your stance lest you unduly mobilize the opposition. The game is to quietly encourage your constituency while not awakening the other side.
Trump Is the Symptom, Clinton Is the Disease
This year Mr. Trump is not playing the moderation game. For every skinhead supporter that the bellicose Mr. Trump arouses, he recruits three suburban soccer moms for Mrs. Clinton. Given the unpopularity of the two frontrunners, Clinton’s greatest asset may be the person she is running against.
The neoliberal policies of Clinton are what have given rise of the nativist anger buoying the Trump tide. Trump is the symptom and Clinton is the disease. Left-ish pundits like Michael Moore and Tom Hayden will try to scare decent people to vote for Clinton to defeat Trump.
But we do not need to do the work for the ruling class to perpetuate neoliberalism. Let the Democratic Party’s juggernaut (and their Republican allies) deal with Trump as it picks up steam now that Sanders has been sidelined and their convention is coming up. Now is the time for progressives to vote for real alternatives to the two parties of capital, such as the Peace and Freedom Party or Green Party.
Roger Harris is a member of the State Central Committee.
For more of Roger Harris' analysis of the 2016 campaign, see