Filed under: Capitalism, Critique, Featured, The State, War
On December 18th, Donald Trump became the third president in US history to be impeached, as the House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment, centered on Trump abusing his office as president and also obstructing Congress in its investigation. The impeachment is the end of a several months long process that began with a whistle blower coming forward to report that Trump had asked for the newly elected President of the Ukraine to dig up dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden in exchange for military aid. Currently, at least 6 close Trump associates, from Trump’s former personal “fixer” and lawyer, Michael Cohen, to “dirty trickster,” Trump advisor, and Proud Boy, Roger Stone, have been found guilty of various crimes.
Across the Democratic Party, in DNC aligned mass media, and through neoliberal cultural institutions such as Saturday Night Live and other late-night television shows, the impeachment has been presented as a day of reckoning between a democratic system of checks and balances and a criminal regime. Gone from the impeachment rhetoric of course is any talk of the actual lived realities and experiences of poor and working-class people, let alone the tens of thousands targeted by the regime which suffer inside a growing network of migrant detention facilities. In short, the impeachment crisis has not been as expression of popular anger over Trump’s policies and instead has become a seemingly endless pageant of Statist bureaucracy.
While the mass media plays up the idea of a “divided America” that is increasingly “polarized” along partisan Republican and Democratic lines, in reality, the real growing divide in the US is that of sweeping inequality and the deepening stratification of wealth and power.
And it’s this spectacle we are told to celebrate as a massive and historic blow to Trump; a win for the Constitutional State, and a step toward dethroning the regime. As they have since the start of the Mueller probe, the neoliberal mass media has presented figures like former FBI head Mueller and bureaucrats like Nancy Pelosi, as heroes, while covering and talking about the Russia investigation and now the Ukraine scandal ad nauseam.
But such coverage has also shown the degree in which the DNC aligned media has pushed everything else out of frame. Reporting on the severity of conditions inside detention camps, rising homelessness, the growing push towards war, the brutal realities of the current economy, climate change, the crisis around water, overdoses, and beyond – largely have all been pushed out of focus.
Stephen Miller has been at the center of Trump's attacks on migrants + refugees; his ideas shaped by a collection of white nationalist websites, books, figures + Nativist think-tanks. Here's what you need to know about his email leaks + why they matter. https://t.co/aawkL7C8p4
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) November 13, 2019
There’s a reason for this: it’s because while the Democrats have been building their brand around impeachment, they’ve also been rubber stamping all of Trump’s major legislation; from his push towards greater militarization and global conflict, securing more money for the Wall, to continuing attacks on migrants under the direction of chief policy advisor and white nationalist, Steven Miller.
So while the mass media plays up the idea of a “divided America” that is increasingly “polarized” along partisan Republican and Democratic lines, in reality, the real growing divide in the US is that of sweeping inequality and the deepening stratification of wealth and power. Thus, while anger mounts against the capitalist system, the spectacle and narrative produced by Trump’s impeachment grows: that of rural “conservative” and “traditional” Trump supporters pitted against coastal “woke” elitists with the money to buy organic and fawn over their electric cars. This narrative fails to get at the heart of not only what is actually happening in this country, but moreover what does have the power to bring poor people together across lines of geography, race, and gender: growing class anger.
Democrats Rubber Stamping Trump’s Agenda
Only one day after Trump was impeached, the DNC controlled House pushed through both Trump’s NAFTA replacement trade agreement, the USMCA, which is an attempt at creating a trade bloc which can compete directly with China, Japan, and the European Union. The House also rubber stamped Trump’s budget proposals, which set aside $632 in domestic social spending and $738 in military and security spending, while also slashing billions in Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico.
As Patrick Martin commented:
The military spending bill was opposed by a handful of liberal Democrats, adopting an antiwar posture that is thoroughly insincere, since there was no chance the bill would be defeated. The domestic spending bill was opposed mainly by Republicans opposed to maintaining even the abysmal current levels of support for healthcare, education, housing and other social programs. Four senators who are campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker, did not attend the session and did not vote.
The trade bill also has the near-unanimous backing of the Chamber of Commerce, the big banks, and the main transnational corporations, all of whom want a stable framework for conducting production operations that are integrated throughout North America, as well as support against their corporate rivals in China and Europe.
The new budget, titled the National Defense Authorization Act, also allows Trump to remove funds from the allocated $738 billion budget to put towards the construction of his border wall. According to a statement from the White House, this new budget agreement “enables more than the $8.6 billion amount included in the budget request to be dedicated for the President’s border wall, including nearly $1.4 billion in direct funding.”
…[T]he legislation was also stripped of a provision that would have limited the role of military troops in hunting down and imprisoning immigrants at the border. The Pentagon is maintaining a permanent deployment of 5,500 National Guard and active duty soldiers on the US southern border.
Gloating about this rubber stamping of billions of taxpayer dollars towards war, mass surveillance and the security State, and building a useless wall along the border, Trump stated while speaking at a Turning Point USA event in West Palm Beach, Florida:
And you know, it’s funny. I got that one through, as part of the defense bill, because you know what? The Democrats don’t like the issue anymore, because they know we’re right. When you see what’s happening over there, they know we’re right. They sort of let that one sail through. They got tired of that wall fight. That wall fight was not good for them, politically, I can tell you, right? So we’ve built almost 100 miles already. It’s going up rapidly, and it’s the real deal.
This backing of Trump’s policies comes at a time of worsening conditions and continued death of migrants within detention facilities as well as the bombshell revelations released in a string of documents by The Washington Post which show the extent the State went to hide the massive failure of the nearly two decades long war in Afghanistan.
So while the Democrats present themselves as “The Resistance” to the Trump administration, they have instead been some of its most loyal subjects, pushing to ensure that a system built around austerity and corporate power, white nationalist led attacks on non-white migrants and refugees, and the growing militarization of the US empire, police forces, and borders – continues full steam ahead.
Fire to Neoliberalism and Its Defenders
“The whole point of talking about class and “the proles” is to insist on the very basic way in which people from different “communities” have essentially similar experiences, and to show that people from the same “communities” should in fact hate each other. This is the starting point to fighting the existing communities. When we begin to fight for our own interests we see that others are doing the same thing. Prejudices fall away, and our anger is directed where it belongs. We are not weak because we are divided. We are divided because we are weak.
The fact that this society is divided into classes with opposing interests means that it is always at risk of tearing itself apart. The government is there to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
“How different are the people who shoot fake ducks, from the people who eat fake ducks? We’re all trying to get back to something. This hole in my heart dictates the direction I run in.”
As riots and uprisings rage across the world against austerity and State repression, we see a very clear picture of US society taking shape all around us. From the Trump administration pushing to house the growing number of homeless people in former jails, to the growth of mass surveillance, the threat of climate change, and the continued fallout of exploding rents, the gig economy, and automation – our current age is defined globally both by austerity and increasing State repression. Our so-called leaders, from CEOs to politicians, have no master plan; no grand ideas to get us out of the crisis that is everyday life. They can only offer more tear gas in the hope of duct taping the potential points of rupture from coming apart at the seams.
The current system would love nothing better than to see the polarization of the population along lines that benefit the power of the State; to have us buy into believing that we live in a world divided between Deplorables and The Woke. Between those shuffling to Yoga classes in big cities and those headed off to church in flyover country. Gluten free vs anti-vaxxers.
Towards this end, the current system would love nothing better than to see the polarization of the population along lines that benefit the power of the State; to have us buy into believing that we live in a world divided between Deplorables and The Woke. Between those shuffling to Yoga classes in big cities and those headed off to church in flyover country. Gluten free vs anti-vaxxers. Yet these imagined communities mask the realities of what could be possible if human bodies found each other by way of coming into conflict with their shared material conditions and more over, their shared class enemies.
Central among these enemies should be not only those within the Trump administration, but also the Democrats, who for decades have sold themselves as the lesser of two evils while actively helping to construct the modern horrors of mass incarceration through acts such as Biden’s Crime Bill. They’ve worked to construct the realities of the current migrant crisis as the architects of border militarization through legislation like Operation Gatekeeper. They’ve helped usher into being the modern era of neoliberal capitalism that is one part global austerity and one part Patriot Act; one part structural adjustment program, the other: all out war.
Let’s stop wasting our time, attention, money, and hope on those helping to advance a set of policies which are actually destroying our lives, communities, and living earth. Instead, lets destitute and abandon the idea forever that elections and electoral politics are the arena in which power is built. Instead, let’s recognize this spectacle for what it is: a process in which legitimacy is manufactured for the continuation of a way of life which is hurdling us all towards authoritarianism, collapse, and extinction.