Unite against Fascism 2
There are two ways for a group to help itself economically: combine with other groups to work for progress for everyone, or work against other groups to beat them out. Only combining in solidarity can accomplish anything progressive; tearing down others merely makes it worse for all, including one’s own group. It makes some sense in a world where everyone is declining: one wants to keep one’s own group competitive by doing down the others. However, this inevitably leads to everyone going downhill.
The key to the world now, not just the US, is that hate and divisiveness are increasingly taking over as the way to manage economic trouble. Doing down a weaker group seems to have caught on as not just the best, but the only, way to stay afloat. The rural, suburban, and working-class whites that voted for Trump doomed themselves to losing Medicare, Social Security, environmental protection, free education, and all the other benefits of liberal governance. They succeeded in making sure that blacks, browns, and non-Christians suffered even worse. In the end, it will mean disaster for everyone.
Therefore, the need is for unity and solidarity first. We can stop fascism and reverse our economic and social decline only by uniting every individual and group that is not in the fascist camp.
Postmortems on the election continue. The Los Angeles Times (Lauter 2016) reports that the clearest demographic difference between Trump and Clinton was education: whites without college education broke overwhelmingly for Trump. No other demographic did. Young people, as usual, did not vote in large numbers, and given their well-documented support for Clinton, that low turnout itself doomed her. Blue-collar white voters and counties that went for Obama in 2008 and 2012 went heavily for Trump; conversely, relatively conservative educated whites flipped the other way. The biggest change was in the northern midwest, formerly a solid Democratic stronghold, now—and not only in the presidential race—almost as right-wing as the deep south. One reason the final result—Trump’s solid win nationwide—was so surprising was last-minute voters breaking for Trump. These seem to have been partly Republicans who had trouble stomaching the man, and partly traditional Democrats who both disliked Hillary and wanted a more aggressive change agenda. Part of the context is the decline in manufacturing jobs in the US from 17 million as recently as 2000 (after already huge job flight) to 11 million at the depth of the 2008-9 recession. It recovered to over 12 million by 2016, but one can certainly see why blue-collar America is disaffected. The Clinton wing blames automation, but exporting jobs to low-wage, labor-suppressing countries appears to be the real problem.
A long, excellent article in the Washington Post (Hofmann 2016) describes Shannon Monnat research on 3106 counties. Trump’s vote surpassed Romney’s by 10% in downwardly mobile, largely white counties with high rates of drug, alcohol, and suicide deaths, especially if such deaths have been increasing. These are counties where farming, manufacturing, and mining formerly provided good livings, but have declined or died out. Trump did worse by 3% in better-off counties. Typical was Scioto Co., Ohio: Trump ran 33% better than Romney—and drug, alcohol, and suicide death rates have doubled in that time, as pill-pushing clinics came in and manufacturing went out. Mingo Co., WV, the drug, alcohol and suicide death rate rose from 53.6 to 161.1 in the years 1999-2014. In Coos County, NH, Manufacturing shrank from 38% of jobs to 7%, and pay for it from 49% to 9%, from the 1980s. It went heavily for Trump. All across the northern Midwest, Trump did better than Romney, especially in rural and small-town counties.
The fact remains that Trump’s campaign was pure hate. He did not pretend to have any other issues or solutions. Job flight was to be dealt with by trashing China or at least our trade therewith. Competition for jobs in the US was to be dealt withg by expelling illegals and, more generally, targeting Mexicans. Terrorism and war were to be dealt with by hateful bigotry against Muslims—all Muslims, not just the tiny fraction of 1% that are involved in terrorist activities. Urban problems were to be dealt with by suppressing urban minorities and “out-of-touch” urban elites. Gender issues were to be dealt with by suppressing gays and returning women to sex-object status. And everything wrong with the US was to be dealt with by crushing liberals, meaning anyone much to the left of the Ku Klux Klan. Trump did not make one single honest suggestion that was not simply a matter of hurting minorities (or China). His campaign was highly negative toward just about every group in the United States except white males.
Clinton should have opposed hatred from the start—hatred in general, across the board. Instead, she joined in (with her infamous “deplorables” remark) or, at best, protested against hatred of specific groups, notably women. Clinton could have and should have talked more to economic issues, especially those that concern less educated workers. Derek Thompson (2016) points out that she did in fact focus on those matters. However, she did not highlight it. The media did not cover it, which is yet another proof that the media were hypnotized by Trump and basically elected him; but it is also true, as Thompson argues all too cogently and conclusively, that hatred really decided the election. It was an election driven almost entirely by hate—and not only right-wing hate, alas.
It appears that total turnout was, in the end, a good deal higher than in 2012. The main difference from that year was the enormous swing to the Republicans throughout the northern midwest. The south remained solidly Republican, as it has since Reagan. California and many urban areas moved more Democrat-ward, but not enough to offset the spectacular red tide in the midwest, which destroyed the “blue wall” Clinton had relied on (far too much).
Debates about Trump’s fascism continue (e.g. Caplan 2016), but there is now no question that his administration will be fascist. Jeff Sessions and Stephen Bannon alone would be enough to guarantee that, but add Tom Price, Betsy DeVos, Thomas Pyle (energy advisor from the Koch brothers camp), and others, and all question disappears. As noted before: there is no record of a regime this extreme taking power without mass killing. All regimes based on this level of exclusionary ideology are genocidal.
Trump is also in league with, and to some extent a pawn, of, Vladimir Putin, who is using fascist politics to weaken the west and especially to weaken NATO and other anti-Russian organizing (see very thorough account in Foer 2016).
The task, then, is how to unite the widest possible coalition to stop this, and how to maintain hope through it all. Some very good advice comes from Beth Broderick; call up the whole article if you can, but the short form is her advice that we should adsolutely not be vindictive, violent, blaming, or excessive in rhetoric, but we should stay as informed as possible, and keep up the pressure through peaceful protests, free concerts, anything that will get a lot of peopole organized in a peaceful way.
Cancelling Obamacare could lead to 36,000 excess deaths, judging from studies of the effects of similar plans (Millhiser 2016). US life expectancy is declining, and mortality rising, largely because of obesity-related conditions and drug abuse, but also because of an appalling rate of medical mistakes, variously estimated as causing 400,000 to 1,000,000 deaths a year.
Umberto Eco listed 14 points that, to him, identified a fascist leader; as an Italian, his experience was largely Mussolini. The fourteen, as recently listed in AlterNet, include: cult of tradition; rejection of modernism; cult of action for action’s sake; opposition to analytical criticism—disagreement is treason; exacerbating natural fear of difference; appeal to frustrated middle class; obsession with plots; permanent warfare as natural; sexual aggressiveness. All fourteen seem relevant to Trump (Holloway 2016). I would add that more significant are Trump’s constant and deliberate whipping up of hatred of minorities, his flagrantly corrupt links with big businesses, and his constant use of Goebbel’s Big Lie technique.
Johan Galtung, a sociologist who correctly predicted the collapse of the USSR and other states from his research on empires, predicts the US will collapse now that Trump has won and begun his program. Galtung’s research has paralleled mine (I have been aware of it) and comes to pretty much the same conclusions I do, from comparable data (Galtung 2009; Gettys 2016 for his latest views).
A scenario for permanently eliminating Democrats from power is clearly taking shape in the GOP: National right-to-work law and other measures to destroy labor unions, plus gerrymandering and voter suppression. Unions are not only the biggest single source of Democrat funding and the way to mobilize the working class; they are also the main counterbalance to the rich urban liberals who want to restrict politics to debating “neoliberalism” and “intersectionality.” We have to get back to uniting for economic justice and stop dividing over meaningless verbiage. Only the workers can keep the Democrats on that track.
Broderick, Beth. 2016. “The Wizard of Id…Do’s and Don’ts in the Age of the Democalypse.” Huffington Post, Dec. 5, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beth-broderick/the-wizard-of-id-dos-and-_b_13429746.html?
Caplan, Jane. 2016. “Trump and Fascism: A View from the Past.” History Workshop, Nov. 17, http://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/trump-and-fascism-a-view-from-the-past/.
Galtung, Johan. 2009. The Fall of the US Empire—And Then What? Transcend University Press.
Foer, Franklin. 2016. “Putin’s Puppet.” Slate, Dec. 7, http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/cover_story/2016/07/vladimir_putin_has_a_plan_for_destroying_the_west_and_it_looks_a_lot_like.html
Gettys, Travis. 2016. “Here’s How the US Empire Will Devolve into Fascism and Then Collapse—According to Science.” Rawstory, Dec. 7, http://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/heres-how-the-us-empire-will-devolve-into-fascism-and-then-collapse-according-to-science/
Hohmann, James. 2016. “The Daily 202: Trump Overperformed the Most in Counties with the Highest Drug, Alcohol and Suicide Mortality Rates.” Washington Post, Dec. 10, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2016/12/09/daily-202-trump-over-performed-the-most-in-counties-with-the-highest-drug-alcohol-and-suicide-mortality-rates/584a2a59e9b69b7e58e45f2e/?utm_term=.5fc6eab2b5c0&wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1
Holloway, Kali. 2016. “Trump Is an Eerily Perfect Match with a Famous 14-point Guide to Identify Fascist Leaders.” AlterNet, Dec. 6, http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-eerily-perfect-match-famous-14-point-guide-identify-fascist-leaders?akid=14969.317267.tvvane&rd=1&src=newsletter1068417&t=2
Lauter, David. 2016. ‘Clinton’s Big Wins Illustrate Her Weaknesses.” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 12, A1, A10.
Millhiser, Ian. 2016. “Here’s How Many People Could Die Every Year If Obamacare Is Repealed.” ThinkProgress, Dec. 7, https://thinkprogress.org/heres-how-many-people-could-die-every-year-if-obamacare-is-repealed-ae4bf3e100a2#.f1mzhgynb
Thompson, Derek. 2016. “The Dangerous Myth that Hillary Clinton Ignored the Working Class.” The Atlantic, Nov. 29, https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/12/hillary-clinton-working-class/509477/?utm_source=fbb