2007 - 2021

Good News and Bad on Impeachment Day

 

As the facts and footage pour out we’re getting a clearer picture of the actions and motivations of the Trump Mob on Capitol Hill and the scale of the violence that took place. My favourite anecdote is that some of them defecated on the floors and tracked their own filth through the hall. What a great metaphor.

But as America’s first post-truth President faces impeachment (again), which effectively ends his electoral career, the repercussions are complex.

There’s good news and bad news.

As Kdog writes (‘Preliminary thoughts on the MAGA riot at the Capitol’):

“The ruling-class has consensus that this is an attack on the system and the state and there is near-unity on rejecting this attack and punishing Trump and the MAGA crowd. While it was headed there already, this firmly establishes MAGA as an extra-legal oppositional street force – of the kind that’s not been seen in my lifetime. I think they will be a dangerous and constant factor in national and local organizing for the next few years.”

By expelling Trump from the body politic they are guaranteeing his troops resurrection on the streets. But this is probably a price worth paying, and it’s unclear what base he can hold having been purged from social media and unable to run again for office. His (corporate) media career is unlikely to flourish beyond InfoWars and a ghost written account of his, er, reign. Like the Capitol’s poor carpets he is soiled goods. He can do the Alt-right circuit for a few years – or traipse off to Turnberry – but without the trappings of power he will be a massively diminished figure, a grotesque, a figure of fun, a fat old man facing a wall of criminal charges. Whether there is Trumpism without Trump is another matter. Could the rich mix of reactionary zealots that carried out their botched coup hold together without their glorious leader taking cues from him and his unfortunate offspring? I don’t think so.

The political establishment is ejecting Trump – who has become embarrassing even for his host the Republican Party who desperately need to distance themselves from the coup and the crazed Trump dynasty. While the trump Movement was just a vile reactionary racist movement supporting White Supremacy they thought it was convenient and kinda fun, but now that the fantasy has broken out of Parler and Reddit and was actually terrorising the Congress its moved the dial.

It’s not just the Republicans who are sanitising themselves from the Trump contagion.

Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar today urged Republicans to vote to impeach President Trump: “For us to be able to survive as a functioning democracy, there has to be accountability.”

The ‘Citadel’ of US democracy has been despoiled and the humiliating reality that the security forces colluded with the insurrectionists is a stage too far for the American political establishment.

Now what?

There will be an investigation into the security failure, Trump’s links to the Proud Boys, and we will see if Biden can be safely made President in a weeks time or whether further violence will spill out. The Republican Party will try and re-set itself but its in very deep has committed very far and is hugely culpable. Their tactic of co-operating with the Impeachment in order to rid themself of the intruder is fine, but nationally they are riddled with Trumps and Trumpism, and that will be harder to expel.

For the rest of us we are burdened by a frail and liberal incoming Biden administration, possibly more scared than emboldened by its new-found power across Congress and Senate and the phenomenon of Trumpism still unfolding across our screens and our post-covid world.

As Timothy Snyder has written (‘The American Abyss’):

“Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. Truth defends itself particularly poorly when there is not very much of it around, and the era of Trump — like the era of Vladimir Putin in Russia — is one of the decline of local news. Social media is no substitute: It supercharges the mental habits by which we seek emotional stimulation and comfort, which means losing the distinction between what feels true and what actually is true.”

Snyder views the rise of Trump’s proto-fascism as part of a wider decay, the contaminant of social media and the undermining of basic concepts of truth.

He goes on:

“Like historical fascist leaders, Trump has presented himself as the single source of truth. His use of the term “fake news” echoed the Nazi smear Lügenpresse (“lying press”); like the Nazis, he referred to reporters as “enemies of the people.” Like Adolf Hitler, he came to power at a moment when the conventional press had taken a beating; the financial crisis of 2008 did to American newspapers what the Great Depression did to German ones. The Nazis thought that they could use radio to replace the old pluralism of the newspaper; Trump tried to do the same with Twitter.

Thanks to technological capacity and personal talent, Donald Trump lied at a pace perhaps unmatched by any other leader in history. For the most part these were small lies, and their main effect was cumulative. To believe in all of them was to accept the authority of a single man, because to believe in all of them was to disbelieve everything else. Once such personal authority was established, the president could treat everyone else as the liars; he even had the power to turn someone from a trusted adviser into a dishonest scoundrel with a single tweet.”

Trump lied about everything, constantly, they poured out of his mouth like someone speaking in tongues. But ultimately Trump told a lie ‘that was dangerously ambitious: that he had won an election that in fact he had lost’.

Finally this collided with reality.

Fecal Material

All of the fecal material that Trump flourished in: the grievance culture, the paranoia, the misogyny, the deep dark racism , the anti-semitism, is all still there. Abolishing Parler and banishing Donald from Twitter doesn’t make it all disappear. The rich and fertile compost of social media and a palpable sense of decline will only be boosted and amplified by Trump’s humiliation.

It’s definitely the right thing to do: to impeach and prosecute him – but the action will also feed the never-ending hunger of the far far right.

Writing in The Atlantic Caitlin Flanagan suggests that this isn’t the end of Trump, it’s the end of America (“Out of darkness we were born and into darkness we were returning”):

“If they were animated by any idea, it was that America had somehow gone off track. It had something to do with feminism. It had something to do with Obama-ism. It had something to do with “globalism” and “Marxism.” In other words: It’s the Jews again. Didn’t Trump walk through a cloud of tear gas to hold up a Bible when it was all going down in Washington? Wasn’t he the only one holding the line against the Jews and the Blacks and the satanic pedophiles trying to take over the country?”

As I said, there’s good news and bad news.

The boil is being lanced but closer examination suggested the whole body is covered with them.

As I wrote back in November (‘Trump Unmasked‘): After four years of the most appalling venal and unproductive time in office – when Trump reeked havoc and openly flirted with white supremacy – he increased his vote and almost won. After fours years of rampant failure, he’s expanded his base. Huge huge swathes of the American public voted actively for a quasi-fascist candidate in full-knowledge of what he is. That’s not cause for any celebration. These people, that phenomenon, and the forces that propel them aren’t going anywhere soon.

The idea that Biden could be labelled as a “socialist” and part of “Antifa” is so ridiculous it offers an insight into the complete collapse of political meaning in American public discourse.

If fascism, or pre-fascism lands in a country devastated by the covid crisis and about to encounter economic crisis like its never seen before, this might be the fertile grounds for more and worse of the same: Kdog’s prediction of “MAGA as an extra-legal oppositional street force”. But there is an alternative, that the opposition and progressive America that also exists finds its feet and its voice and manages to create an alternative reality, one based on reconstruction and a narrative of Make America Good Again.

But this is a country born from and soaked in violence and the possibility of civil war, or at least heightened and ubiquitous violence by a movement removed and separate from mainstream politics is very very possible.

All of the festering ills of Trumpism are still here. The idea of Trump as Godzilla – who can soak up any energy and be empowered by it is derailed by his second impeachment. The argument becomes: “Can his movement still cohere and absorb that energy as a Super Powered Grievance Story: Trump as Christ, Trump as King Across the Water, Trump as the Real Winner?” Some of that may sound familiar to you.

Who knows? Things are so weird now anything’s possible.

Is Trump more dangerous ‘contained’ within the GoggleBox of the Presidency where everyone can see him or let loose onto the world to play?

We’re about to find out.

 

 

 

 

Comments (17)

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  1. Ian Hsy says:

    Very accurate and worrying assessment but we have this blatant political lying much closer to home. Johnston, Hancock, Gove, Ross, et al are past masters at it and they are further right than the Proud Boys!!

  2. Daniel Raphael says:

    More good and not-so-good news: Mitch McConnell, the utterly amoral ringmaster of the US Senate, has stated he will not reconvene the Senate for the purpose of carrying out the impeachment proceedings until after Joe Biden has been installed as President. The article here– https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/01/13/fascist-enabling-coward-mcconnell-declines-reconvene-senate-trial-house-moves –provides details of this. I don’t know how much of a limitation it would prove to be for Trump’s political ambitions, were he to be impeached twice (as he has been), but with the follow-up trial in the Senate being delayed until Biden occupies the White House…and even then, there is no guarantee the Senate would vote to confirm the impeachment. Both houses must affirm it for it to be politically and legally lethal to Trump’s ambitions. I’m not a Constitutional lawyer, but I believe that is the case.

    In many other ways, the Republicans (especially) continue showing themselves amenable to authoritarian suppression of the popular will, even as they have postured over the falsehood of Trump’s “stolen” election. The Democrats are largely self-interested by way of defense, which is entirely understandable and not a point for censure–however, they also continue to give signs of their historical and lamentable “bipartisanship” aka “reaching across the aisle,” which–in the era of barely post-Trumpian reaction–strongly hints at letting any kind of substantial agenda be diluted, delayed, and denied by what is now (barely) a Republican minority in both House and Senate. The rap over here is the Democrats get elected when people can’t stomach the GOP, and then behave in such a disappointing way that the GOP comes back the next time. It’s this hokey-pokey of 1% rule that has brought the US to its present, sorry state. There is no guarantee it cannot, will not, sink even lower.

    The struggle continues.

    1. Thanks Daniel, very good to hear your perspective

  3. Graham Boyd says:

    Mike
    Impeachment doesn’t effectively end Trump’s political career but it does pave the way for Congress to hold a second vote using the 14th Amendment which restricts those found guilty of insurrection from standing for political office. The 14th Amendment only requires a simple majority for Congress to do this while Impeachment requires a two thirds vote of Congress.

  4. SleepingDog says:

    Since I never formally studied USAmerican politics to any great depth, I can only surmise that impeachment is especially significant because of the post-Presidency role in the USA. Past Presidents (and unseparated families?) get life protection by the Security Services (thank Obama for restoring that) even if they have been impeached, apparently. This would seem to apply to Vice President Pence (and family) if he took over from President Trump while the latter was still in office. Although an impeached President could be disqualified from office and lose the pension. Here is what Wikipedia has to say, anyway:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_in_the_United_States#Removal_and_disqualification
    But the main security issue for ex-Presidents, I guess, is their access to national security briefings. This could potentially be very destabilising if an ex-President Trump was able to make all kinds of unsubstantiated claims based on alleged secret intelligence received. I am not sure how that would be managed these days.

    Other major issues, I guess, would be if impeachment or another kind of removal or unfitness judgement made reversing (late-term) Presidential orders easier, perhaps to reverse pardons/remove immunities, or restore foreign policy changes. Successful action may or may not open the way to publishing information that might otherwise remain secret.

    Anyway, it would be interesting to hear if Donald Trump publicly accepts or rejects lifetime Secret Service protection, given the whole Deep State angle. I think Richard Nixon may have been the only US President to reject the offer so far.

  5. Carey Rowland says:

    Thanks, Mike, for publishing your perspective on these grave matters.

  6. Tom Ultuous says:

    I suspect we’ll just see one of Trump’s family as the next republican presidential candidate with the ogre pulling the strings. Meanwhile our ogre and his sheep dream of making us the 51st state.

  7. Blair says:

    I can see America divided. They will have their BREXIT MOMENT with Trump and Biden breaking up the United States. Donald J. Trump will be seen as the last president of the United States of America.
    The world is changing in plain sight, BREXIT still has to run its course in The United Kindom we have divisions within our own union: Scotland prepare to leave.
    The Kirk teaches that God knows us before we are born, God could well have known:

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians%2015%3A52&version=KJV

    The church will also have it’s own BREXIT MOMENT. A new world order is in the making and religions will see the world not in unity but in disunity. The Pope will nolonger be seen as viable. Pope Francis is therefore the last pope.

    It’s not the end of the world, but just a transition to a period of time predicted by many and now coming to fruition.

    Scotland will gain independence but will never be independent the rest of the world. Scotlands resources are not only physical but spiritually talented. While the world moves to Ai, Smart Systems, Scotland will retain its very own Ri, Intelligent Systems.

    Now Donald Trump may be impeached with little power, but he knows that he is the real winner because of his ancestral family root.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Anne_MacLeod_Trump

    Who is going to reject God’s man?

    1. Blair says:

      Just as God created Adam and Eve, so He created man and woman. He created His only begotten son though Mary, Jesus, He showed us the way. I am just, like everyone else in the world, I’m ‘Christ in a’ valued Blair,

      God’s way for His Scotland through the Father. The real Holy Spirit is Scottish, created by me.

      Through Bella Caledonia, Scotland will see things differently after the lockdown. It’s up to the readers whether they believe. That’s their God given freedom and its there for you to take back from the elect.

      -Christina.

      1. Derek says:

        If there is a god of some sort, is she white? Hmm….

        1. Blair says:

          Derek,

          The Holy Scriptures tells us that God is a spirit (John 4:24). Jesus teachings from The New Testament tell us about God being The Father, Son & Holy Spirit (trinity, 3 in one). We are all spiritual beings, I just have the spirit of Christ in a validated way guiding me (Romans 1:9).
          A spiritual war (Revelation 12:3) is taking place, now on Earth as in Heaven (Mathew 16:19).
          I know it is hard to believe but we are God’s children (1 John 3:1), we are spiritual beings constrained by our flesh!
          We are also constrained through the bindings that have been applied though they need not be permanent. Jesus was not constrained by death. We are not constrained by the English and their Lords.

          Scotland shall be an independent country again. God gave us plenty of natural resources, sufficient oil for our lamps. Scotland is part of the Trinity, through the Holy Spirit: She will provide God His victory.
          Scotland will be independent but cannot be independent of the world.

          Scotland does not need to be tied to the £, or any other currency for it can create in its own energy The Scottish Joule and Carot currency.

          BREXIT is just the beginning of the Kingdom Scotland will create. The last Trump (1 Corinthians 15:52), Donald J. Trump is the last president of the United States of America, Joe Biden is just the president of a divided nation.

          With God’s own country being Israel and Jerusalem, Vatican City may lay hold Jesus but Scotland will take more out of Rome through Our Holy Spirit, ‘Christ in a’.

          The old world systems, will not submit to a New World Order but will form in the future God’s Trinity (Scotland, Israel & Vatican City) for all time to come.

          Now Bella Caledonia readers, the time has come to stop worrying about The SNP and Indyref2, our future and destiny is with us all to work with God our spiritual Father to protect our own home on His Planet Earth.

          The challenge facing mankind is real. Don’t let Boris and his bunch of nasty Tories leave you with nothing.

  8. Mark Bevis says:

    Gaia, who or which is greater than God or any gods, is going to reject “God’s Man.”

    Homo Sapiens are an evolutionary dead-end, in the current form, and either we learn to live within the planet’s ecological boundaries, or we go extinct, just like any other species. It’s not that difficult a concept really, unless you’re an economist.

    Here’s some more recent science for you to get stuck into:
    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcosc.2020.615419/full
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/13/top-scientists-warn-of-ghastly-future-of-mass-extinction-and-climate-disruption-aoe

    and some quotes from that paper that were left out of the Guardian article

    “As of 2020, the overall material output of human endeavor exceeds the sum of all living biomass on Earth.”

    “That we are already on the path of a sixth major extinction is now scientifically undeniable.”

    “Regarding international climate-change accords”……”intended national determined contributions for post-2020 climate action have been utterly inadequate.”

    This is my favourite:
    “The predominant paradigm is still one of pegging ‘environment’ against ‘economy’; yet in reality, the choice is between exiting overshoot by design or disaster – because exiting overshoot is inevitable one way or another.”

    “Even though climate change alone will incurr a vast economic burden possibly leading to war (nuclear, or otherwise) at a global scale, most of the world’s economies are predicated on the political idea that meaningful counteraction now is too costly to be politically palatable. Combined with financed disinformation campaigns in a bid to protect short-term profits, it is doubtful that any needed shift in economic investments of sufficient scale will be made in time.”

    What’s this got to do with Trump and his impeachment? Everything. This is how collapse occurs. This is what we are witnessing. Oh yes, there’ll be drama, there may even be full bloodied transition to dictatorship (the parallels with 1930s Nazi Germany are ominous, both here in the UK and in the US), it’ll all be televised live to boost the ratings and enrapture the sheeple in terror. And of course, Trump and Boris both have an exemplary record of allowing stuff that speeds up global collapse – The best way to deal with it is to switch it all off and carry on gardening. You are all learning to become self-sufficient, yes?

    Same with Brexit, Scottish, Irish and Welsh independence, and then hopefully NW England independence, and do on.
    There’s only two numbers anyone needs to understand:
    EROEI (energy return on energy invested)
    The exponential function.

    Once those concepts are understood, it is easy to work out that this current civilisation is unsustainable, and henceforth finished. (unless of course, you’re an economist)
    Anyone wanting to delve further into the subject should pick up a copy of William R Catton’s Overshoot, published in 1980, but feels like it was written yesterday.

    This statement of the correspondent ‘Blair’ in the comments is very true:
    “It’s not the end of the world, but just a transition to a period of time predicted by many and now coming to fruition. ”
    (If by many you means mere thousands) But probably not in the way that he’s expecting….

    Here’s another one on “God’s Man”, his capacity for rapacity and destruction:
    https://www.pnas.org/content/117/24/13596.short (Vertebrates on the brink as indicators of biological annihilation and the sixth mass extinction)

    There is plenty of evidence that we are in a mass extinction event – only the hubris and arrogance of Man is preventing him from accepting that he may well become part of that extinction. Petty tyrants messing around with the parameters of the Overton Window and feathering their nests and egos isn’t going to alter the outcome much, other than adding extra fluctuations to the death rate. Although the USA and UK do seem intent in beating the rush and getting their collapses in early, to misquote Tim Watkins misquoting John Michael Greer.

    Gaia is calling the shots now, don’t let any one person fool you otherwise.
    The death rattle of empire will become louder, shriller and more violent for some years to come, but it won’t alter the outcome.

  9. florian albert says:

    Mike Small quotes Timothy Snyder approvingly. Unhappily, Professor Snyder’s political judgement is poor.
    He wrote, concerning 2016, that ‘Trump’s campaign for President of the United States was basically a Russian operation.’
    This was far from the truth as more perceptive left wing writers acknowledged long before November 2016.
    Michael Moore predicted not only predicted Trump’s victory but detailed how it would come about. He would campaign in ‘rust belt’ states for the votes of disillusioned blue collar votes. Thomas Frank wrote a series of articles in The Guardian in autumn 2016 describing – after attending Trump rallies – how successfully this plan was working.

    In 2016, Trump won narrowly – but fairly. In 2020 he lost more – equally fairly. If others suggest that legitimate electoral results (however unpleasant) are not really legitimate, they can not be surprized when Trump does likewise.
    The sooner Trump is gone the better but those who facilitated his rise are to be found in the progressive left as well as in the GOP.

  10. florian albert says:

    The involvement of the Trump’s opponents in promoting him – due to their own political foolishness – can not be ignored.

    On January 9th, Bella printed an article by David Black. He quoted Bernie Sanders as welcoming the possibility of Trump as Republican candidate since it would ‘wipe out the Republican Party for a generation.’ That did not quite work out.

    The Democratic Party’s (secret) decision to promote Trump in the media – ‘Operation Pied Piper’ – is, thanks to WikiLeaks, well documented. This was based on the same ‘thinking’ that Bernie Sanders exhibited.

    I can remember in 1980 when the Democrats were jubilant that the Republicans had chosen Ronald Reagan as candidate. They assumed he would be a weak candidate. Reagan, of course, won a convincing victory.

    1. Got it. The rise of the far right is the fault of Democrats and the Left. Noted.

      1. florian albert says:

        They contributed to it by their arrogance and stupidity.

        Hitler’s rise to power was helped – not caused – by the similar arrogance and stupidity of the German Communists (KPD) who viewed the Social Democrats (SPD) as ‘social fascists’.

        Richard J Evans, has a long article about this in the current edition of the New Statesman. Amongst the comments he makes; ‘Few who have described Trump as a Fascist can be called real experts in the field, not even Timothy Snyder.’ ‘You can’t win the political battles of the present if you’re always stuck in the past.’

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