Skip to content

Trump and the 2nd American civil war

May 3, 2020

My unhealthy interest in US politics leads me back to the keyboard, to tell you why I think another civil war is coming to America, how it will start, and the really strange confluence of events that are leading the US towards its own destruction.

***

I saw this coming a few days ago, and a Guardian report lends my notion more weight: the strangest proxy war ever seen, where America is the host nation, and the combatants are China and Russia. But instead of arming the various factions, this is a virtual war fought between the disinformation factories of the two countries – China supports Biden by spreading the truth about Trump, while Russia supports Trump by spreading lies about Biden. Once more, it’s a ‘you couldn’t make this shit up’ moment:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/30/trump-claims-china-will-do-anything-to-stop-his-re-election-as-coronavirus-row-escalates

It’s clear that Trump has now chosen a strategy he believes will deflect much of the criticism he will face between now and November over his handling of the virus, and the unfortunate fact that the world’s most technologically advanced and richest nation has exhibited the worst response to the pandemic of any nation on Earth, with the most infections and the most deaths. He will relentlessly blame China, knowing his supporters will subscribe to this xenophobia almost reflexively (and that they are likely a bit bored with pack-hunting socialists, xenophobic attacks on Muslims and spraying swastikas on synagogues, although none of this will ever go entirely out of fashion). I do however predict that Trump is going to get a lot more concerned about foreign interference in a US election when he’s on the end of the kind of disinformation Hilary Clinton endured instead of the pandering Russian support he got last time round, whilst utterly failing to understand why Putin was investing so heavily in splitting America apart and reducing its global influence to that of a nuclear-armed banana republic.

And in one of the most ironic statements I’ve seen in a long time, Trump says this about polls showing Biden leading him in the latest polls: “I believe the people of this country are smart. And I don’t think that they will put a man in who’s incompetent.” To which one can only reply “they elected you, didn’t they?”

***

I send these thoughts out to a few friends who put up with my musings. One of them came back to me predicting another Trump win:

Try this video if you haven’t seen it before – the first 30 secs gives the idea – the rest just confirms that Trump will probably win again. These people are extreme examples, but there is a sizeable majority who are sufficiently like minded… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzDhm808oU4

I disagree with this prediction on several key issues. Forgive me if I go to tedious lengths in order to explain why.

The central premise is that Trump will win again, and my friend cites a ‘sizeable majority’ of moderate right-wingers as the basis for this prediction (as opposed to the far-right extremes). Oddly enough, he asks a question later that alludes to my rebuttal – “how did Obama get elected?” To complete the question, I would add – ‘and by whom?’

From the standpoint of electoral demographics, it has become clear there is no Republican majority in the US. Recently, house Democrats proposed as part of a Coronavirus stimulus package funding for, among other things, vote-by-mail, same-day registration and early voting in order to safely run elections amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In one of the most inadvertently telling statements Trump has ever blurted out, he said this: ““The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Levels of voting! In other words, if all eligible US citizens were allowed to make it to the polls and cast their votes, Republicans would be doomed.

This is also how The Guardian interpreted the statement: “Democrats often accuse Republicans of deliberately making it hard to vote in order to keep minorities, immigrants, young people and other groups from the polls. And Republicans often say they oppose voting reforms because of concerns of voter fraud – which is extremely rare – or concerns over having the federal government run elections. But Trump’s remarks reveal how at least some Republicans have long understood voting barriers to be a necessary part of their political self-preservation.”

I have read other analyses since then, which agree that in fact, the Republicans are a minority party who hold on to power only through corrupt means – principally gerrymandering and voter suppression. Here’s another quote from the same Guardian article: In December, a Trump campaign aide was recorded saying: “Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places.” The aide later told the Associated Press he was saying that Republicans have traditionally been accused of voter suppression.

So,  from an electoral view, if there was a full turnout of eligible voters, Trump would lose on the basis of demographics alone. And consider how Obama got elected: it would not be credible to argue that some meaningful proportion of Republican supporters voted for Obama, giving him the win. He was elected by a very strong turnout of energised Democratic voters – twice – who recognised both the quality of the candidate, and the historic import of electing a black man to the highest office in the land in a country still tarnished, and partly defined, by all too recent memories of the KKK, segregation and the murder of MLK. Slavery is historic; the civil rights act and the opposition to it came about in our lifetimes.

So let’s now consider how Trump got elected. Trump did not win the election: Clinton lost it. There are quite a few factors in this, but here’s a summary. First, Clinton was disliked by a proportion of the left who felt she had sold them out as she grew more moderate and centrist with age. No longer a rebel hot-head (her combative nature is one important reason her own healthcare initiative failed when she was first lady), she also became rather hawkish as Secretary of State, which dismayed many supporters. Her antipathy to Bernie Saunders and his agenda alienated young progressives. Her handling of the Benghazi attacks wasn’t very adept; 10 investigations found no wrongdoing (six of them by Republican controlled committees), but enough mud was thrown that some would inevitably stick. And out of that investigation came the revelation that she was using a private email server (like several Secretaries of State, as it turns out, including Colin Powell): again, the FBI found no classified information was compromised, but it was more mud.

Then there was the perception of nepotism, of elitism and ‘ivy league’ arrogance. One of the most stupid things she did during her campaign was referring to Trump supporters as ‘deplorables’ – a remark that confirmed every democrat’s worst fears about her attitude and hardened opinions of any moderate, unaligned centrists who might otherwise have considered voting for her. Add to that the concerted disinformation campaign by the Russians, and you have a very touch-and-go election on the horizon, with a remarkable number of Democrats now hating her with a visceral intensity I found really shocking.

But most damning of all – and I agree with the analysis that suggests this was the event that lost her the election – was the statement made by then FBI director James Comey on October 28th – only 10 days before the election – that the FBI was re-opening the email investigation on the basis of having new evidence. Her election campaign died at that moment – and she still got 3 million more votes that Trump even then! (Comey also made a statement on November 6 – two days before the election – that the FBI had not changed its original conclusion: “…that Clinton had been “extremely careless” but recommended that no charges be filed”.

So that’s how Trump won – not by commanding a sizeable majority, but by a confluence of corruption, misinformation and voter apathy; by more Democrat voters staying at home than Republican supporters (although the turnout was at a 20-year low across the board) . Here’s a graph showing the demographics of the last three elections:

Voting graph

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/11/politics/popular-vote-turnout-2016/index.html

***

Conclusion: Trump’s re-election is by no means certain. In this febrile atmosphere of venal corruption, entrenched partisanship and paradigm-cracking madness, nothing can be taken for granted. I do think that if Biden (who I believe is waiting for his moment nearer the election) chooses the right running mate, someone like Elizabeth Warren, a woman who can bring in the young and the progressives and who is smart, focused, good on detail and tough enough to make mincemeat of Pence, he could certainly win. I also think that focusing exclusively on the presidential race is a serious mistake, because unless the Democrats can keep their Congressional majority and take back the Senate, it is irrelevant who sits in the Oval Office.

But above all, Biden has a not-so-secret weapon the likes of which Trump can only dream of: The Obamas, both of whom have now endorsed him. With such a widely-respected ex-President campaigning for you, along with his equally formidable wife, the influence brought to bear on Biden’s behalf cannot be overstated. Trump’s most ardent supporters will, of course, stick by him, but if they are in fact a minority – and there will be those who have had enough of the the lies, the self-importance, the nepotism, the incompetence and egregious disregard for decency and will stay at home on election day, just as the Dems did for Clinton – then we can look forward to the next American civil war, because if Trump loses the election, what’s left of his mind will go with it.

What happens when a defeated president refuses to vacate the White House, insists that he was not beaten at all; that the results are down to the ‘deep state’ conspiring against not only him, but his supporters? He will claim falsified returns, China’s interference and an invisible alien spacecraft bending people’s minds and more, playing to the base fears of the right-wing convinced they are victims of yet another conspiracy, a very consistent belief among Trump supporters. And Trump will do what he’s rehearsing now: demand his supporters protect their second-amendment rights by taking to the streets, and if necessary by shooting every liberal they can find.

Should make for some good TV though.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. markhb permalink
    May 3, 2020 11:17 am

    The US constitution itself has been on the line for a while now. The only good thing that I can say about it is that the Russian & Chinese systems are even more corrupt and untrustworthy.

  2. Graham Wayne permalink*
    May 3, 2020 12:43 pm

    Hi Mark – you’re right about the US: democracy reduced to the least worst choice. Unfortunately there seems to be something inevitable about it. Where money and power meet, corruption turns up like the bloke nobody ever invites to a party but always seems to be there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: