The Trump Trap
The GOP, MAGA, the past, and the future…
The classic pattern of a fascist takeover of government goes something like this…
The fascist party grows to the point where it is big enough to be a kind of kingmaker in a deadlocked representative democratic system, and the conservative elites of that system, threatened by chaos and/or growing left political feeling and workers’ struggle, adopt the fascists as the (to them) lesser evil, and help them into power. The conservative elites expect to be able to control the fascists and use them as a bulwark, discarding them when they have outlived their usefulness, only to find that the fascist party out-manoeuvres them and assimilates or ejects them. This has not yet happened in the United States, but it seems to have happened – on a micro level, as it were – within the Republican Party.
The MAGA conquest of the Republican Party may not be absolutely complete, however. MAGA might still split away.
A lot depends on whether Trump once again secures the Republican nomination.
Front-runners don’t necessarily get nominations. Many people now considered political jokes have, at one time or another, been front-runners. Donald Trump isn’t even always the front-runner in the polls these days. Even so, the likelihood is that, all else being equal, he will get the Republican nomination again.
The movers-and-shakers within the GOP want rid of him. So do most of the mid-level people. They talk openly about how he was great but it’s not 2016 anymore, we need someone new, etc. They are hoping to nudge the feeling in the party. But the feeling in the party stays with Trump. The insiders are reduced, as some of them have recently confessed, to waiting for Trump to die.
We all know the paradox. We saw it played out in instance after instance in the midterms. Republican hopefuls can’t be candidates without Trump’s approval; Republican candidates can’t get elected by the public with Trump’s approval. This paradox runs right the way through the Republican Party, from top to bottom. It is soon to be enacted on the national stage in the 2024 presidential election.
This is the trap the present-day Republican Party is in. A trap entirely of its own creation and long in the making.
I’ll have to go back a bit.
Neoliberalism, ‘Creeping Fascism’, and The Cosby Show
In the late twentieth century, the post-war ‘long boom’ crumbled as a result of the secular tendency towards decline in the profit rate, which is – as Marx showed – innate to capitalism. By the 1970s, even the vast and ongoing government stimulus of Cold War arms spending was failing to pump up the burst tyre. The neoliberal strategy was an attempt by capitalism – unsuccessful in overall, real terms – to restore the profit rate, and the GOP was at the forefront of it with Reaganism, as were the British Tories with Thatcherism.
The neoliberal revolution was not just economic. It was also – in an almost too on-the-nose demonstration of Marx’s ‘base and superstructure’ model – political and cultural. …