Trump bares his Bonapartist fangs
The conflict between Trump and some state governments grew as Trump claimed “total authority” to “reopen the economy” in any state whenever he wants. But he soon outdid himself when on April 15 he claimed, in complete contradiction to the U.S. Constitution and its “separation of powers” doctrine, that he had the right to “adjourn Congress.” (1) No U.S. president has ever claimed that authority.
At a press conference, Trump bitterly attacked the Republican Senate as well as the Democratic House for remaining nominally in session, thereby blocking his authority to make “recess appointments.” The U.S. Constitution gives the president the right to appoint federal officials only with the consent of the Senate. If the Senate is not in session, the president can make a temporary recess appointment. The official who is appointed through such an appointment then has “acting” in front of his or her title. Trump prefers this because it removes the ability of the Senate to block his appointments.
However, if the president can “adjourn” the Senate and House of Representatives at will, the legislative branch of the government would be rendered powerless versus an all-powerful executive. Imagine if Richard Nixon in 1974, when told by Republican congressional leaders that he faced certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and conviction in the U.S. Senate, had simply adjourned the U.S. Congress instead of resigning!
There is a term for the system of government where the parliament is powerless and the executive is all-powerful. It is called the Bonapartist system. If Trump’s doctrine of total presidential authority and the right of the president to adjourn Congress was to be implemented and accepted as part of the system of government, the U.S. would no longer be an imperialist democracy — no matter how eroded — but a Bonapartist autocracy run by an all-powerful dictator-president. (2)
The decline and fall of a political system
The downfall of a political system occurs when it loses the ability to make timely concessions to the oppressed classes when circumstances demand them. A good example is Russia in 1904-05. The surprising defeat of Russia by the Japanese Navy in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 was the signal for the approaching end of the czarist autocracy, which traced its history back a thousand years. This is far longer than the U.S. constitutional republic, only a little more than 230 years old.
On January 9 (old Russian calendar), a demonstration of workers in St. Petersburg, led by the secret police-backed Father Gapon, demanded factory legislation from Czar Nicholas II. All accounts indicate that the mass of workers expected the czar to grant them relief and were still very far from the idea of replacing the absolute Russian monarchy with a republic or even constitutional monarchy. However, instead of granting the workers’ demands — or at least making a concession — the czar ordered the imperial guard to fire on the demonstrators, killing 143 to 234 and wounding hundreds more. The first Russian revolution — the revolution of 1905 — was on. When the czarist government finally granted some concessions later in 1905, they were too little too late.
The monarchy finally crushed the revolution in 1906, but the foundations had been laid for the complete downfall of czarism. Despite the apparent victory of the czarist counterrevolution, the thousand-year-old Russian monarchy had only a little more than a decade to live.
Today, the U.S. political system’s decline is dramatically revealed by its wretched reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic crisis. But signs of decay of the U.S. constitutional republic had been on display long before the current acute crisis, just as the decay of Russian czarism was obvious long before the events of January 9, 1905.
If the U.S. political system and Democratic-Republican duopoly still retained vitality, the Democrats would have nominated Bernie Sanders for president. The entire left and progressive movement — except for a handful of sectarian groups that have virtually no influence on U.S. politics, the trade union movement, or broader progressive politics — would have backed Sanders if he had been the Democratic nominee.
If a Sanders administration were able to carry out the long-overdue reform of Medicare for All, it would have shown that the U.S. political system still retained some ability to make timely political reforms, much as it had done during the New Deal of the 1930s. It was the New Deal reforms that prevented either socialist revolution as happened in Russia or a descent into a Bonapartist or fascist dictatorship as happened in Italy, Germany, Spain, and other European countries. Similarly, during the Vietnam War the U.S. ruling class had shown its ability to cut its losses, thus staving off a revolutionary upheaval at that time.
Is the traditional U.S. political system, based on the twin ruling parties of Democrats and Republicans, still capable of making timely reforms in face of the current unparalleled crisis with its biological-medical, financial-monetary, and production-employment aspects? So far, indications are in the negative.
Just as the COVID-19 pandemic was about to devastate the U.S., the Democratic Party chose to squash the Bernie Sanders movement and open the door to nominating Joseph Biden as its presidential candidate. Biden has continued in the very teeth of the pandemic to reject “single-payer” — that is, health care as a human right and not a commodity. Biden went so far as to indicate that he would veto single-payer legislation in the unlikely event that it was passed by the House and Senate and sent to his desk for either signature or veto.
The pandemic has hit disproportionately hard in African-American and other oppressed communities and the U.S. South, which 155 years after Lee surrendered to Grant has yet to shake off the long shadow of slavery and its Jim Crow sequel. These groups of people rarely go to doctors for the simple reason that in the U.S. unlike virtually every other developed capitalist country and many not-so-developed, health care is a commodity and not a basic human right. As a result, they suffer from underlying medical conditions and are therefore much more vulnerable to infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
Another group of special victims are the elderly residents of for-profit U.S. nursing homes, many of which are served by personnel who lack the medical training required of nurses or the necessary tools to contain an outbreak of contagious diseases among the residents. Again, we see the consequences of treating health care as a commodity and not a basic human right.
Especially hard hit by the pandemic has been the huge U.S. imprisoned population of more than 2 million people. It is impossible to practice social distancing within U.S. prisons. We have to keep in mind that the U.S. has on a per capita basis more prisoners than any other country in the world. This fact alone condemns the U.S. political system.
This system gives voters a choice between only two political parties that on crucial issues such as health care are well to the right not only of the labor and Social Democratic parties but of the conservative parties of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and even neighboring Canada. Now COVID-19 and its devastating economic consequences are bringing things to a head. As the expression goes, something will have to give.
Joseph Biden offers a ‘concession’ to the left
To be fair, Joseph Biden in the face of the pandemic has made one “concession” to the “pro-single payer, health care is a right” left. He has proposed lowering the eligibility for Medicare for senior citizens from 65 to 60. In contrast, in 2016 Hillary Clinton proposed lowering the eligibility for Medicare to 50 years. Therefore, far from moving to the left, the Democratic Party in the person of Biden is hardening its opposition to single-payer at the very time the urgent need for single-payer health care as a right is being sharply underlined by the current pandemic.
Here we see shades of the czar in 1905, or to take an example closer to home, the hardening of the defense of slavery by the leaders of the U.S. South in the 1850s. Earlier, the leaders of the South had been willing to concede that slavery was an unjust institution and admitted it must “gradually” disappear. But by the 1850s, the Southern leaders had changed their tune and insisted that slavery was a positive good, for the slave owners, of course, but also for the slaves and maybe even for white workers! This shift was a sure sign that the reign of Southern slave owners was coming to what turned out to be a very violent end.
As historical materialists, we know that the decline of political systems, whether czarism or the political system of the U.S. South in the 1850s, reflects, in the final analysis, the growing conflict between the productive forces and relations of production whose legal expression, as Marx explained in his famous introduction to “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy,” are property forms.
In the case of the Southern slaveholders, the growing political rigidity on the part of the slave owners was rooted in the contradiction between the needs to further develop U.S. agricultural production in the Southern U.S and the system of African slavery. The mode of production on which African slavery rested was extremely wasteful and exhausted the soil, which explains the need of the slave owners to expand into new territories.
In the case of czarism, it was the conflict between the need to industrialize the Russian Empire and further develop agriculture, on one hand, and the lingering feudal relations and absolute monarchy that rested on them, on the other, that drove the empire towards revolution. There are many other examples of this phenomenon throughout history — for example, the French absolute monarchy at the end of the 18th century and the Chinese monarchy at the beginning of the 20th century.
Now the U.S. faces the increasingly hopeless contradiction between the need to develop today’s productive forces in an environmentally sound way — the only way they can be further developed — and the capitalist relations of production. The capitalist relations that now stand in increasingly hopeless contradiction to the need to maintain and further develop the productive forces of the U.S. are defended by Trump with all his increasingly open Bonapartist tendencies and the Republican and Democratic parties.
If despite its initially disastrous response to the COVID crisis and the Biden nomination, the U.S. political system still has the capacity to reverse its present course and implement single-payer, get rid of student debt, and deal with the existential environmental problem of global warming through what has been dubbed the “Green New Deal” — that is, essentially adopt Sanders’ program — this will show that the U.S. political system and the capitalist system it defends can last for awhile — not forever, of course. But if the U.S. political system cannot implement this program — and so far all indications are in the negative — all bets are off.
The search for a second Obama
As we saw last week on the eve of the COVID-19 and associated economic crisis, the Democratic faction of the “Party of Order” was looking for a candidate who would appeal to progressives while in reality be solidly allied with Wall Street and the corporations. Many in the leadership of the Party of Order believed that nominating a conservative woman of color might do the trick.
Back in 2016, the Party of Order expected that the prospect of electing the first woman president would win enough progressive voters, combined with female voters from the conservative suburbs, to install Hillary Clinton in the White House. While there is no doubt there was some genuine enthusiasm among middle-class suburban and ruling-class women for Clinton, the effect tapered off as you went down the class hierarchy and into the oppressed nationalities.
It turned out that warmongering and reactionary Clinton was not particularly popular among African-American voters, especially the younger ones. Why should Clinton have been popular among African Americans when under her husband’s administration the U.S. prison population — made up disproportionately of people of color — skyrocketed toward two million. This led to an even broader increase of African Americans and other people of color with felony convictions — “the new Jim Crow,” as African-American writer Michelle Alexander calls it.
Clinton was associated with the policies of “ending welfare as we know it” and other neo-liberal policies of the Bill Clinton administration. Older African-American voters still credit the Democrats under Lyndon Johnson for ending Jim Crow and are all too aware that the Republican Party has absorbed the Jim Crow Democrats. However, younger African Americans did not consider this sufficient to bother to come to the polls. They were willing to turn out for Barack Obama, who was the first “major party” African-American candidate for president, but not for Hillary Clinton.
The same analysis is largely true for other people of color. Clinton also had a reputation as a warmonger. She is said to have pushed her husband to bomb Yugoslavia, destroying what was left of that socialist republic in 1999. Hillary Clinton was also an enthusiastic supporter of the war against Libya, which reduced that country to chaos and brought a revival of chattel slavery and slave markets. She even paraphrased the dictator of ancient Rome Julius Caesar, joking that “We saw, we conquered, and he [Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi] died.” Even Caesar didn’t celebrate the death of leaders of ancient Gaul — modern France — who he had defeated in such a crude and personal way.
Clinton was a hawk on Syria as well. Considering Clinton’s record, there were real fears in ruling circles in Russia and elsewhere that if she became president she would prove much more hawkish than the Barack Obama administration had been. There were legitimate fears that the extreme hawkishness of a Clinton administration might lead to full-scale war with Russia. If nothing else, Clinton’s warmongering allowed her far-right opponent, Donald Trump, to run as a “peace candidate.”
Her support of an even more aggressive policy of imperialist wars, her Russia baiting, combined with her opposition to “single-payer health care” or any move to relieve student debt let alone implement free college, meant that there was nothing attractive about Clinton to the younger generation. Her claims that Trump was a “Putin puppet” seemed deranged. Trump was and is a terrible human being with monstrous politics, but he is not a puppet of Putin.
Is it so surprising that many white workers and other white people clinging to traditional attitudes on race and “social issues” were far more attracted to Trump while more progressive workers especially young people stayed home in droves?
Other Democratic voters kept the presidential box unchecked while voting for Democrats “down ballot” to protest the Clinton nomination. Despite all of this, Clinton managed to get almost three million more votes than Trump, which showed how unpopular Trump was among the majority of the American people. But since the Electoral College system strongly favors the Republican candidate, Trump was able to win the Electoral College and assume office.
The search for a candidate without political baggage
To defeat Trump in the 2020 elections, a section of the Party of Order
thought it would be key to run a woman of color loyal to the U.S. capitalist ruling class but who unlike Hillary Clinton was not well known and therefore wouldn’t carry Clinton’s political baggage. Such a person, if she prevailed in the Electoral College, would be the first woman and first woman of color elected president. Many in the Party of Order believed this was just what was needed for the second Obama. This brings us to the junior senator from California Kamila Harris.
Kamala Harris seemed ideal for the role of the second Obama. Senator Harris is of mixed Jamaican-African Hindu heritage. If she had been elected, she would have been the first woman and the first woman of color to be elected to the presidency as well as the first person of (part) Indian as well as (part) Jamaican heritage. Harris until recently was California’s attorney general and before that had been a prosecutor in San Francisco.
Harris had not been in the national or even state spotlight for very long, in sharp contrast to the case with Hillary Clinton or Joseph Biden. She therefore never became unpopular, because most people had never heard of her. Again, much like Obama, who also seemed to come “from nowhere,” Harris enjoyed a brief surge of popularity when in answering Joseph Biden’s anti-busing record she pointed out that she had been a beneficiary of busing when she was a young girl. So far so good.
However, Harris’s background as a prosecutor should have raised red flags among progressives. Prosecutors are part of “law enforcement” and within the criminal justice system are very much on the same “team” as the police. Like the police, prosecutors tend toward the right and often the extreme right.
Despite her background as a prosecutor, the Party of Order figured Harris as a woman, and being of mixed African-Indian heritage would make the conservative former prosecutor the ideal “pseudo-progressive” of the Obama type to defeat Donald Trump. The leaders of the Party of Order believed that Harris was well suited to unite the progressive base of the Democratic Party with its pro-big business-Wall Street leadership, thus returning the White House to the Democratic wing of the Party of Order.
As the campaign began, however, Harris wavered all over the place, such as on single-payer health care — which of course meant she was opposed to health care as a right. Then her record as a tough prosecuting attorney in San Francisco against people accused of even possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use came to light. Senator Harris promptly plunged so much in the polls she was obliged to withdraw from the race on December 3, 2019. One down.
That brings us to Senator Amy Klobuchar, a U.S. senator from Minnesota and, yes, an opponent of health care as a basic human right. Much like Harris, Klobuchar is a former prosecutor for Hennepin County. That county includes the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, which form Minnesota’s largest urban complex. Unlike Harris, Klobuchar is white, but she would have been the first woman to be president if she had succeeded in her campaign.
This former prosecutor is, however, a thoroughgoing conservative Democrat who even less than Harris can claim to be any kind of progressive. Her obvious conservatism earned Klobuchar a bizarre “joint endorsement” along with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren from the New York Times, the “newspaper of record,” which is strongly anti-Trump and the unofficial chief organ of the Party of Order. What the Times was saying was that political discourse must be kept between Klobuchar on the right and Warren on the left. From the viewpoint of the Times, Bernie Sanders was too far left, just as Trump was too far right. However, the conservative Klobuchar never could connect with the Democratic base. Her campaign simply never took off.
Elizabeth Warren, a senator from Massachusetts, unlike Harris or Klobuchar, had a reputation as a “progressive” Democrat. Warren, unlike Klobuchar, even claimed to be for single-payer health care. For many progressives, she was an acceptable second choice after Bernie Sanders. She was also reportedly the favorite of former President Obama. And Warren, who has the appearance and manner of a small-town librarian, was the obvious antidote to the shrill and bigoted Trump. Warren, again in contrast to Trump, is considered strong on the concrete details of policy.
However, Warren is thoroughly pro-capitalist and unlike Sanders has no claim to be a European-style social democrat. Warren’s support began to fall sharply in the polls after she backtracked on her support of single-payer. The Massachusetts senator explained that she would push for Medicare for All only during the second half of her term.
That means that she would introduce single-payer legislation only after the mid-term elections scheduled for November 2022. Until then, she explained, she would only be “improving Obamacare,” the same position of Biden, Klobuchar, and the other anti-single-payer Democratic candidates.
Experience has shown that even if Warren had been able to win the presidency with “coattails” long enough to win a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress in 2020 — like Obama did in 2008 — the Republicans would almost certainly take back at least one house of Congress in the 2022 mid-term elections. The only way to prevent this would be for the Democrats to enact a reform that would really help people, such as single-payer. The Obama-led Democratic Party’s failure to do this in 2009-2011 was responsible for the GOP’s capture of both the Senate and the House in 2010. However, according to Warren’s plans, there would be no single-payer legislation in place when the 2022 mid-term election was to be held.
Suddenly Warren’s “progressive” credentials seemed suspect just as was the case with Kamala Harris. Some progressives remembered she had supported the anti-single payer, warmongering, Russia-baiting Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in 2016. If she was such a progressive, why had Warren supported the reactionary Clinton against her fellow progressive Bernie Sanders?
Warren also angered the billionaires of the Party of Order on the right by proposing a wealth tax, as opposed to an income tax, that would finance her post-2022 single-payer plan. In this way, she managed to anger both the progressives on the left and the Party of Order Wall Street and corporate types on the right. Far from uniting the two wings of the Democratic Party, Warren managed to alienate them both.
Who exactly is Elizabeth Warren?
Before the mid-1990s, Warren was a corporate lawyer and conservative Republican. She was also a keen student and admirer of neo-classical marginalist economics and its implications for the law. Therefore, until the mid-1990s Warren was not a progressive but a reactionary Republican.
However, in the mid-1990s the reactionary Republican Warren reinvented herself as a “progressive Democrat” and was elected to the U.S. Senate representing progressive Massachusetts. Was Warren’s “conversion” from a reactionary Republican to progressive Democrat sincere? Or was it simply a good career move for an aspiring politician running in progressive Massachusetts?
Is Warren a woman of color?
Warren had claimed to be a Native American because of rumors in her family that they had “some” Cherokee — a Native American nation — ancestry. Based on an unsubstantiated family rumor, she claimed to be of Cherokee nationality. Warren was listed as the first “woman of color” to be hired as a Harvard professor.
The problem is that Warren is obviously of overwhelmingly white European ancestry and not a woman of color. The issue here is, as real Cherokees pointed out, not a question of biological descent but the vastly different treatment that Native Americans such as Cherokees experience in the U.S. in contrast to members of the ruling – and oppressing – white American nation to which Warren belongs. In the sense that matters, Warren is not a Native American or any other kind of person of color.
Warren turns to DNA for proof
By claiming to be what she was not and taking advantage of affirmative-action programs designed to help people of color including Native Americans, who have long experienced special forms of oppression, Warren’s claims appeared to real Cherokees — and other Native Americans — to be not only dishonest but offensive.
Warren in an attempt to prove she had at least “some” Native ancestry took a DNA test early this year, which revealed that she had one Native American ancestor many generations ago. The test could not determine what Native American nation her native ancestor had belonged to. Warren was finally forced to admit what was obvious all along. She is white. Warren’s superfluous claims to be a Cherokee and a woman of color to advance her career raised questions about her honesty.
As the Democratic primary contest unfolded and with her honesty already impeached by her false claims to be a Cherokee, Warren made waves by saying that Senator Bernie Sanders told her in a private conversation that in his opinion a woman could not be elected president in 2020. Full disclosure: I was not present at the meeting because I don’t move in the circles of U.S. senators and have no actual knowledge of what Senator Sanders may or may not have told Warren in a private meeting.
Sanders denied he made such a comment and indeed it does seem out of character for him to have said such a thing. Sanders supporters produced videos dating from the 1980s in which the future senator explains to young girls that they can run for and be elected to the presidency of the United States. This raises further doubts about Warren’s accusation.
Then, after one of the Democratic debates on a “live mike,” Senator Warren asked Sanders whether he was calling her “a lier” when Sanders denied that he ever told her that a woman could not be elected president in 2020. Interestingly enough, Warren’s unsubstantiated claim of what Sanders had told her is the most serious charge that has been made against Sanders in his relationship with women. Quite a contrast with Donald Trump and Joseph Biden!
Senator Warren’s claims that she was told by Sanders a woman cannot be elected president appears to be part of a line of attack used by the Party of Order on Sanders, also used in 2016, called the “Bernie Bros” phenomena. Sanders, the pro-corporate critiques charge, gets his support mostly from white men — much like Trump. Sanders’ supporters are then dismissed as a white male “Bernie Bros” movement having little support among women and people of color. In reality, Sanders has enjoyed growing support among people of color, especially Hispanics, but increasingly among young African Americans as well.
Sanders’ popularity among women and people of color is in line with Sanders’ history of youthful left-wing political activism, a claim that none of the other Democratic contenders can make. Warren cannot make any such claims about her youthful activism because she spent her youth as a reactionary Republican and remained one for many years.
While Warren’s attack against Bernie Sanders can be seen as a desperate move to revive a failing campaign, there is reason to believe that more was involved. It seems that Warren’s accusation was part of a move by the Democratic leadership, backed by the wing of the capitalist class that controls the Democratic Party, to stop the nomination of Bernie Sanders at any cost.
Before I leave this subject, I will take a brief look at other Democratic presidential candidates.
The rise of Ensign Peter Buttigieg
This takes us to Mayor Pete Buttigieg — sometimes called “Mayor Pete” for short. I have to admit I’d never heard of Buttigieg until a few months ago. Buttigieg has one “progressive” credential. He is openly gay and if elected he would be the first openly gay U.S. president and the first president to have a gay spouse. This would be quite a break with precedent where the role of the “First Lady” has been an important if unofficial part of the U.S. presidency. Hillary Clinton used her role as First Lady under Bill Clinton to launch a political career of her own that led to her serving first as a U.S. senator from New York, then secretary of state under President Obama, and finally the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016.
At first, Buttigieg, just 38-years-old, appeared to be a fringe candidate because he had never been elected to the type of office that has traditionally served as a launching pad for a serious presidential bid. Buttigieg was the mayor of the medium-sized city of South Bend, Indiana, which has a population of only a little more than 100 thousand. Traditionally, even the mayoralty of major cities has not been considered a good springboard to the presidency, let alone a city the size of South Bend. For example, mayors of such major U.S. cities as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles have never been elected to the presidency.
In the past, to be a serious presidential candidate, you had to serve in the U.S. Senate; the governorship of a state, preferably a large state such as New York or California; been a general in a big war, such as World War II; and served as vice president, or at least in a major cabinet post such as was the case with the ill-fated Herbert Hoover. Buttigieg had none of these things in his resumé. But his thin resumé and by standards of presidential politics, and especially by the standards of this year, his extreme youth, Buttigieg attracted a surprising amount of attention from the corporate media, which began to treat him as a major candidate.
However, it turns out that the previously obscure, now former South Bend mayor has considerable experience in the “national security” field. In 2009, Buttigieg was sworn in as an ensign in naval intelligence. In the U.S. military, as is the case in many countries, the Navy is the branch of the military that specializes in “intelligence.”
In 2014, Ensign Buttigieg took a seven-month leave of absence from his duties as mayor of South Bend to serve in the colonial U.S. war against the peoples of Afghanistan. According to Wikipedia, the ensign served in a “unit assigned to identify and disrupt terrorist finance networks.” In other words, Buttigieg was a “spook,” a rather unusual role for a mayor of a medium-size U.S. city.
Buttigieg has also served as a consultant for the McKinsey Management company, which is tied to “national security” and “intelligence.” McKinsey Management also represents the interests of certain large corporations. According to Wikipedia, Buttigieg’s clients at McKinsey included the health insurer Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Michigan, which helps explain Buttigieg’s opposition to single-payer health care. Buttigieg is very much a “corporate,” anti-single-payer Democrat.
The “progressive” but very pro-Democratic Party Young Turks Internet-based news network was interested in finding out whether Buttigieg might be the type of progressive Democrat they could support. They went to South Bend to investigate Buttigieg’s record as mayor. They quickly uncovered the fact that as soon as he took office “Mayor Pete,” under the pressure of racist cops who wanted to make the leadership of the South Bend police “white” again, fired the city’s African-American police chief. This has made Buttigieg toxic to African Americans. Polls show that as a result of this firing, Buttigieg had virtually no support in the African-American community.
Finally, there is the case of multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg served as a Republican mayor of New York. While the mayor of New York, he instituted a “stop and frisk” policy that targeted, as Bloomberg admitted, young African-American men and other young men of color. The racist Republican Michael Bloomberg believed that young men of color were responsible for virtually all the city’s street crime.
Bloomberg also claimed that the campaign against “redlining” — the policy under which banks refuse to lend to people of color — was responsible for the 2008 economic crash. According to Bloomberg’s racist logic, people of color are incapable of servicing and paying back mortgage debt, so redlining was a perfectly reasonable policy for the banks to adopt. However, when later on the banks relaxed their redlining practices, many bad mortgages were granted that caused the crash of 2008.
Early in his career when Bloomberg was a young investment banker, he was notorious, to say the least, for a less than proper attitude toward women. Though he was laid off from his investment banking job, he made tens of billions from his news service, which specialized in providing news to the bankers and brokers on Wall Street and for their very rich clients. Not surprisingly, despite his billions and a huge advertising campaign that presented him as a middle-class kid who made good, the modern Democratic base was simply not interested in the racist former Republican mayor of New York as a potential presidential candidate.
There were many other Democratic candidates for president in 2020, but I won’t bore readers by examining all of them. What I want to examine next week is what I call the super-Tuesday coup of March 3, 2018, which doomed the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. This coup occurred just as the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic shutdown was about to hit the U.S. with full force. I also want to examine the career of Bernie Sanders and what made him different than the other Democratic candidates.
What the Democratic primary contest did show was that no candidate, no matter what his or her race, nationality, sex, or age, can generate much support especially among younger voters while opposing the Sanders program of medical care as a human right, free college and forgiveness of college debt, and a serious program to combat climate change, now dubbed the “Green New Deal.” The Party of Order, realizing it was out of potential Obama’s, finally decided on Biden because he served the capitalists loyally over a political career that stretches back half a century. This was something that none of the other Democratic candidates could match.
To be continued.
1 In parliamentary systems the head of state — whether a constitutional monarch or a president — has the right to dissolve parliament so that new elections can be held to elect a new parliament. Usually, this happens when there is a “no-confidence vote” against the existing government and the parties in parliament cannot agree on a new government. The prime minister then goes to the monarch or the president, who then dissolves parliament so that new parliamentary elections can be held.
This is not what Trump meant when he threatened to “adjourn Congress.” Adjourning Congress so the president can make “recess appointments” would not lead to new congressional elections. It would simply eliminate Congress from the picture, leaving the executive headed by an autocratic president in charge. (back)
2 It is important to not confuse the Bonapartist system with fascism. Fascism begins as a mass movement mobilizing mostly the middle class — the petty bourgeoisie — to wage civil war against the working class. If the fascists are victorious in the civil war and come to power, they establish a dictatorship and the working-class movement is crushed for many years. Therefore, once established, a fascist dictatorship cannot quickly or easily be overthrown.
In contrast, a Bonapartist-type dictatorship arises when the class conflict between the working class and the capitalists can no longer be held within the limits of bourgeois democracy but neither class camp has decisively defeated the other. The state apparatus, usually headed by an autocratic figure, rises above society, though it must ultimately serve the capitalist ruling class if only because of its dependence on the government bond market.
However, since the class struggle between the workers and the capitalists has not yet been settled decisively, a Bonapartist dictatorship is far easier to struggle against and overthrow than is victorious fascism.
Trump has not yet established even a Bonapartist dictatorship, and such a dictatorship, bad as it is, is still far from victorious fascism. The incorrect view that Trump is a fascist — which usually goes with the alleged need to vote for Joseph Biden as the only way to defeat Trump’s “fascism” — shows either a complete lack of understanding of what fascism really is or is conceding defeat in advance in the class battles that are ahead of us and not behind us. (back)