Part I – Trump Republicans
There is a new term in American politics. Have you heard it? People might not ask you: “Are you a Republican?” Instead they might ask: “Are you a Trump follower?” That’s a legitimate question these days.
In the Bush or Obama or even Clinton eras, no one would ask: “Are you a Bush follower?” Because the answer would merely be a rather astonished and quizzical look from the person who was asked the question. “Are you an Obama follower?” That would have been a ridiculous question because neither President Obama nor those in the Democratic Party who voted for him would consider Democratic voters as “Obama followers.”
The reason is that former Presidents did not try to win voters over and win them away from their political party. Those individuals who voted for Bush were considered Republican party members and those who voted for Obama voted for him because he was the Democratic nominee. Neither of those two groups ever considered themselves following a President outside the existing political process.
President Trump clearly has decided that he will only worry about finding voters who will “follow” him, follow his decisions and legislative actions, even beyond the dictates or legislative wishes of the Republican party and, dangerously, beyond the parameters established in the Constitution. What does that mean from a political standpoint?
It means that this President has given every indication that he wants to be a demagogue. ans that he wants to run things his way. He wants to do certain things And that whether our Constitution says he can do them or not. He wants to make his own laws using the limited capacity to act without Congress that is contained within the Constitution.
A person like this, one who wants to rule on his own, interpreting the will of the people, above democracy and a Constitution, is called a demagogue. Demagogues are identified by certain characteristics. They “scapegoat” or blame others for their mistakes or say others are doing bad things that they, themselves, are doing. They “fearmonger” warn of disasters that will happen if they lose control of the people. They commonly lie and promise things that government can never bring about. They accuse anyone who challenges them of disloyalty to the government. They use personal insults, threats and vulgarity. They grossly simplify complex matters and when the true situation is revealed as far more detailed, they attack the media for presenting the facts. Attacking a responsive media, they generate doubt, calling established media, “fake news,” while continuing to lie in other media that will promote their lies, or “propaganda.”
In some cases, people who follow such a man are called are called Fascists. Fascism is a branch of demagoguery in which minorities become a larger focus of the Fascist leader through unrestrained bigotry and racism, as in Nazi Germany. Dividing the people through lies and irrational attacks, creating intense dislike and even hatred of one’s fellow man is a characteristic of Fascism. Usually this is visible in gatherings or mobs, often resulting in violence or marches and rallies where the threat of violence is present.
So, the kind of leader who denies democracy, refers to his opponents as elites, while he tries to rule through his own interests, without democratic votes or constitutional processes, is a demagogue or a Fascist. The kind of government run by a Fascist leader, where the people have no say in what happens, is called “Fascism.” Fascist governments are to a greater or a lesser degree–but always to some degree–dictatorships.
Looking at Trump, he has done more than just create an impression of a man who wants to be a tyrant. He has said things and written things and done things that clearly define him as a tyrant. The only thing that prevents him from conducting activities that are more publicly tyrannical is Congress. We seen now, in the dispatching of troops within the United States to arrest people, simply take them off the streets into cars and drive them away by unidentified individuals, without an arrest warrant or specific charges of illegal action, is a clear signpost of a Fascist government
President Trump is not a traditional Republican. He is only President because the Republican Party ran out of legitimate candidates. None of the Republican candidates in the 2016 campaign were candidates of the people. The Republican party, by 2016, had completely lost contact with the people. They were not working for the average person, but for billionaires, who after Citizens United, were in total control of the Republican Party. Anyone who did not vote with the Tea Party (Billionaires) segment, would be forced out in a primary.
As anyone could clearly see, from any Trump rally, the kinds of people who would follow a demagogue, were out there…racists, bigots, morons, people who were confused and listened to Right Wing radio or Fox News, hard core White Supremacists, Southern pro-segregationists, like Senator Tom Cotton’s followers in Arkansas, and other individuals who had been Republicans and were too busy to find out what was happening.
Of course, in the solid South, the connecting factors for Trump followers seemed to be some racism, or fanatic Fundamentalist Christian teaching, antagonism towards science, or medical knowledge, dislike of immigrants, higher education, and higher wages through unions. Trump’s “followers” based on interviews from his rallies, seemed to be people who were largely ignorant of political facts, were really more unaware of Trump’s actual activities than they were of his promises, many of which were out-and-out lies. After extensive post-rally interviews many were simply people who liked going to rallies and wearing T-shirts or caps with Trump propaganda on them, like “MAGA”: “Make America Great Again.” Trump was apparently the kind of entertainment that one could vote for, by those whom many referred to as “the deplorables” among citizenry.
Many people in those Trump crowds clearly had only a vague idea of the real meaning of MAGA, or any of the other slogans Trump would use to simplify very complex issues. Strangely, as the 2016 campaign went on, it was clear that these were not traditional Republican voters. Traditional Republicans would have to go to the polls and hold their noses while voting for someone they couldn’t stand alongside other “Republicans’ that they could not stand.
Trump had sold himself to a large group of Americans in the same way Huey Long or Joe McCarthy had done. He simply lied and made the lies sound true to very large groups of people who could just as easily have been at a NASCAR event or a college football game. The media mistakenly called him a “populist.” For the people at Trump rallies, that was all they had to hear. Trump was a populist, some thought, like William Jennings Bryan or Teddy Roosevelt, or Abraham Lincoln.
By the time that some Trump voters understood that the media’s definition of “populist” was, mistakenly, anyone who was popular, it was too late. A Fascist was emerging and he was in power in the White House. He would appoint other Fascists right and left…to the Cabinet, to the Judiciary, to the Justice Department and to the White House staff, which was the group that he most often relied upon. Trump would ignore Congress and do whatever he damn well pleased. That’s what Fascists and dictators do.
To depart from politics for a minutes and examine why the media thought Trump was a populist, we need to examine the obvious. The news has largely become a series of media snippets told by pretty women with nice legs, blonde hair, and straight white teeth. To give them some validation, they often also have degrees from good universities or have some other qualification, such as honor roll status or pitcher on the championship softball team. Males who read the snippets usually have good hair, athletic looking physiques, adequate height and good voices. In both female and male news readers, they are composed of every ethnic group from Somalia to Eskimo. The young journalism students recognizing that the print media has largely passed into history can simply look into the mirror to see if they qualify as a television journalist, that is to say, 21st Century Journalist. They frequently have little or no background in American history or political history…or journalism.
Back to the Trump voters, why did all these raggedy people, the wretched refuse of the political system, believe that they had no home? Well, they didn’t and still don’t. Outside of Trump’s “Republican” party they don’t fit in anywhere, which will be a huge problem for Republicans for the next sixteen to twenty years at least. Republicans will return to the traditional model. Someone like Mitt Romney. He or she, will be traditional Republican. Small businessman, fooled into thinking that the GOP cares for him. The Southern bloc who simply want to hang on to Segregation until it finally slips through their fingers. The typical Fundamentalist Christian, true believers, hating science, falling farther and farther behind, becoming more and more of an anachronism.
These people, the Hillsdale or Liberty graduates, will be a bigger and bigger segment of a smaller and smaller universe. College and high school dropouts will either become professionals in date processing or members of other professions not requiring a college education. Many will become Democrats. Others will continue with education and they will become Democrats. Many of the farmers and non-educated Trump Republicans who listen to the Right Wing propagandists will simply not vote. The segment of the legal and medical community dedicated to preventing liberal judges or health-care-for-all are too small a group to do anything but tilt at imaginary windmills. Tea Party Republicans, affluent individuals, usually corporate individuals who either have no conscience or work for a decent corporation or simply “go along” to keep their highly paid jobs, will go to party meetings, vote for and support Republican candidates. But they will be too small a group to make a difference in the vote.
The next group that makes up the “Trump Republican” party these days are the avowed and publicly proclaimed White Supremacists, militias of hard core racists and Fascists, what, in previous generations were KKK members and Fascist Brown Shirt thugs. Trump has added to this group now, with unauthorized national police being sent into cities and states with the authority to arrest and imprison protesters without a warrant and to use armed force to do so. This is the “Homeland Security” law that creates forces to fight terrorists but has been discovered by President Trump as a legal way that he can “keep order.” The concept of “keeping order” may sound familiar to those who have studied European history. Keeping “order” in the “homeland” were common terms in Nazi warnings and indictments of Jews and Catholics and dissenters of any kind. Concentration camps were set up to “keep order” when Jews were “disrupting” lives with the activities actually being done by Nazis and blamed on Jews by Nazi-controlled media.
Which brings us to the final group within the Republican Party, the elected Republican legislators at the local, state and national level. They are elected by the Pacs who spend enormous amounts of money on television to condemn Democrats for just about anything that they do. They condemn them for supporting filthy coal and then when Democrats run on clean energy, they condemn Democrats for hurting coal industry jobs.
Almost all of the organizations that support Republican politicians originally grew out of the campaign support from the tobacco industry. When state governments in many states overcame the tobacco lobbyists and smoking became anathema, those groups switched to other issues, like opposing women’s right to choose (anti-abortion) or gun ownership or voter “fraud” or government-supported health care. The massive amounts of money in Republican lobbying is the result of combining all these organizations. So the NRA goes out and campaigns with the Evangelical Fundamentalist Christians against abortion in a half-dozen different ways, most of which are dismissed by district courts. And then, there are the PACs from the billionaires as well. Always and always the Tea Party will be there to lobby for tax cuts for the billionaires.
The history of Republican attitudes is interesting. Republicans under Reagan began to feel themselves somewhat superior. They had cut taxes and created a deficit. Normally the people would have howled and sent them on their way, kicked them out of office. But they didn’t. Reagan said that what you see…huge red numbers…simply aren’t there. And whom are you going to believe—your own eyes, or a benign and fatherly old actor-President, lying to you? They believed Reagan, and the Republicans said to the Democrats—too bad. TV trumps the truth. So Bush the First came in and the deficit grew so bad he could not win re-election. By then, we were all in debt by $4 trillion.
Eventually, Clinton stopped the bleeding and he was re-elected and he actually put money in the bank and shored up Social Security a little. But the debt still grew to $5.6 trillion. But the budget was balanced and the $5.6 trillion would be down to zero by 2011 according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Then came Bush II and Dangerous Dick Cheney. Cheney looked the other way as radical Muslims killed 3,000 Americans. Then he decided to start a war against a completely different group of Muslims, from those who had attacked us. He and Bush and Rumsfeld killed hundreds of thousands at least, cost Iraq citizens millions while destroying a country. They also killed 4,500 American soldiers for nothing. Bush and Cheney were reelected while they spent another $5 trillion on wars and two tax cuts for billionaires. Now the national debt was about $11 trillion. Then they gave us a recession. The first two budget years of that cost $3 trillion. So now we were at somewhere around $14 trillion in debt and trying to pull out of a long, long recession! .
This is where we were, only with even more debt, around $20 trillion from the Great Recession, when Trump came along. Obama had reduced deficits down to $200 billion or so per year, the levels at the end of the Reagan years. So did Trump, the Republican, representing the political party of fiscal discipline, try to reduce them further? No. He cut taxes for billionaires in 2017. The result was a return to trillion-dollar deficits from the less than quarter-trillion that President Obama had finally negotiated.
Where do we go from here. Let’s find out.