Trump and Trumpism Make a Comeback

From the Belly of the Beast – By Barry Sheppard

With the failure of the January 6 attack on Congress to overturn the 2020 election, Trump’s final attempt to do so, many progressives and socialists thought that we were finished with Trump.

But it has become clearer that the Republican Party remains under Trump’s control. The concerted drive by a united Republican Party against the right to vote is “justified” by Trump’s continued assertion, supported by most Republican lawmakers, that he won the election, but was deprived of his victory by widespread election fraud.

Consequently, the Republicans assert, their drive against voting rights is just an attempt to eliminate the widespread fraud of the 2020 elections.

This is being drummed up in the rightist media.

Not a single Republican Senator has opposed this drive, and the same goes for the overwhelming majority of Republicans in the House.

If it succeeds in enough key states, it will guarantee Republican majorities in both houses of Congress in the next two to four years, and the presidency.

In other words, the minority party will have the majority in the government.

Right now, these laws as they pass in some states are being challenged in the courts and will probably go up to the Supreme Court, which will be a test of the Court’s reactionary majority.

Mass actions of various types by Blacks and their supporters will also come into play to fight against these proposed laws. Already the widespread denunciation of Georgia’s law has resulted in the Major League Baseball All Star game being moved from Atlanta.

Trump jumped in to publicly denounce the move.

It has also resulted in Georgia-based big corporations like Delta Airlines and Coca Cola reversing their earlier position, and now opposing the law.

Trump himself remains the dominate cult leader of the party. No other Republican politician has the support Trump enjoys within the base of the party, and they fear being placed on his public list of enemies.

Trumpism has meant not only more open racism, but also authoritarianism. A significant section of the capitalist ruling class supports his authoritarian drive, as indicated by the fact that one of the two capitalist parties is falling into line behind it.

From the beginning of his campaign to win the Republican nomination in 2016, Trump has consistently projected himself as the strongman who can set the country right. In the debates between his rivals for the nomination, he belittled all of them as weak and “losers” unlike himself.

Coupled with his open racism, this stance rallied Republican voters in the primaries to his promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington and push back African Americans, refugees from Latin America, immigrants without documents, Muslims and others.

Trump’s authoritarianism was viewed with enthusiasm by many Republican voters. He has created a hard-core base consisting of tens of millions of racist whites from all classes that remained personally loyal to him throughout his presidency, and still is.

Donald Trump hugs the American flag at a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida, during the 2016 election.
(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Historically the political rule of the capitalist class has taken many forms, ranging from bourgeois democracy to fascism and many intermediate forms between these two. One form has been the emergence of a strongman political leader in periods of stagnation and deadlock in the organs of bourgeois democracy. Marxists have traditionally called this strongman form “Bonapartism”. It is named after the 1851 coup of Louis Bonaparte in France, which Marx analyzed in detail.

There are similarities between the situation when Trump was elected and what led up to the coup by Louis Bonaparte in France in 1851. One was that in both cases there was sharp factionalism between and internally within the establishment parties. The result was increasing difficulty in arriving at workable policies.

Louis Bonaparte was elected president in late 1848. Prior to his 1851 coup, he was skillfull in presenting himself as the savior who could break through the impasse, just as Trump was.

Louis Bonaparte was a mediocre political figure, certainly in comparison with his famous uncle, Napoleon. But he was shrewd in maneuvering between the squabbling factions and bolstering his appeal to the public.

Trump is just as mediocre. And ignorant. There are so many examples that have been exposed in the media. Just one was his proposal – made seriously – to have COVID patients drink bleach as a cure. But he is also shrewd in tapping into white racists’ fears of Blacks and immigrants and rallying them to himself personally.

Trump sought to become the supreme leader, not by abolishing Congress, but by using his personal control of the Republican Party to convert the Congress into just a rubber stamp for his policies.

It had appeared at the beginning of 2020 that Trump and the Republicans could win the election, with the economy growing.

The pandemic then intervened and dealt the economy a severe blow. In addition, Trump’s failure to deal effectively with the pandemic — a miscalculation on his part, even if his core base accepted his lies about it — turned enough voters against him to lose the election.

Trump sought to overturn the election result by forcing enough Republican controlled state governments to themselves commit fraud by doctoring the election results to give him a slim majority in the electoral College.

He also tried to overturn the results in those states by appealing to the courts. All those attempts failed, and he made once last attempt by organizing the insurrection on January 6 to prevent Congress from certifying the results.

He had the army behind him this attempt, as was evident in the Pentagon’s refusal to intervene with the National Guard for hours as Congress was disbursed by the fighters that took over the Capitol Building.

Even then, it was not the National Guard but the Washington’s city police that intervened and escorted the fighters out of the building and disbursed them, without any arrests or even taking of names.

Now we see the Republican Party rallying again around Trump in an attempt to win the elections in 2022 and 2024 by restricting the non-white (especially Black) vote.

The Black-led multiracial movement against this Republican drive has the potential to beat this back and thwart it.

We don’t know for sure what will develop in the next two and four years politically and economically, but capitalist politics remains polarized and likely deadlocked on many important issues.

Right now, Trump and Trumpism has made a comeback, and is a force to be reckoned with, even if out of power.

The danger of Trumpism is still with us, even if it is at bay for the present.

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