by Mike Meyer
Maybe we need to see this as a story. Things are coming apart quickly but it is impossible to be sure of anything. America has stumbled into something that falls between the old Twilight Zone and the new Russian vampire stories. Is it possible for a continental sized nation state to slip into a frightening fantasy? How did we get here and how do we escape?
There have been dysfunctional presidents, incompetent and ignorant presidents, and a few with personality disorders. Nixon comes to mind with a steadily worsening case of paranoia but, in the end, he had reason to be paranoid. And he went into retirement returning things to something like normal.
America in 2016 stumbled and found itself in a diverging reality for which there was no map and no experience. The full divergence of this path has become increasingly apparent while the future has become increasingly difficult to see.
At the same time a portion of the population became fascinated with an illusion of the past that could not be supported by our 21st century reality. The bulk of the population became concerned, then frightened, and then depressed as they continued to follow the old procedures but none of the controls seemed to work anymore.
In the summer of 2018 the wheels that had been wobbling for almost two years began to come off. Change was accelerating but what it would mean and how it would end was impossible to say. But it was obvious America needed to build a new reality to fit what was happening.
One of the problem centers was the unlikely presidency of a small time real estate mogul and reality TV actor with serious narcissistic and impulse control problems. With a life time of family money to cover him he had become adept at self promotion. Failures were easy to lie about because no one really cared. His greatest success was as comic relief parodying himself in roles as an ignorant and angry boss. Unfortunately it wasn’t a parody.
It was not at all clear how he became president. Becoming president had been a joke he used for several years to make himself important but, just as with his business failures, no one really cared. But an unlikely congruence of events created a stunning flip into a divergent reality.
Perhaps the best theory saw it resulting from a perceived insult as another reality type shows’ actors were being paid more than him in 2015. To support his demand for more money he declared himself a candidate for president as a Republican.
That party had been in terminal decline for thirty years as the policies it had supported for all that time had failed. Funding the tiny elite of billionaires had worked as long as enough attention was paid to the small business owners and people frightened of change.
The disastrous shift to racism in the 1970s in order to gain older racist voters in the South and Midwest was the road to death as this had no place in the future. Since the rise of civil rights could be blamed on the federal government it became easy to blame everything on the people’s government. In a loosely democratic system constant attacks on government as an enemy of the people made the people who controlled that government the enemies of themselves.
This was a crack in reality that would steadily widen. The denial of reality became more and more important as the self contradictions became more difficult to maintain. Followers of this masochistic line became more and more alienated from themselves and needed more extreme threats to justify destruction of their own way of life.
After all the party’s goals had nothing to do with the increasing fears used to motivate the base electorate. Those goals were limited to the transfer of tax money to the oligarchic elite and elimination of public services for everyone else.
The role of America in the industrial and post industrial world was increasingly led by international business leaders and the very wealthy who were the beneficiaries of self destructive imbalance of asset distribution in, otherwise very successful, neoliberal economics. The success of international capitalism produced ever greater profits.
These economic and political systems routed the expanding assets back to the owners who were already monstrously wealthy. The trick of convincing the electorates that voting for their own interests would reward other racial groups who did not deserve to be rewarded reinforced economic self destruction. But, ironically, it did nothing for the fears of the base who still struggled without services and no working capital assets.
Greed kept those in ever greater control of most assets unwilling to break the cycle resulting in growing disparity in income. The middle class, the greatest product of early capitalist development, was frozen as assets drained to vast lakes of currency held by billionaires and billionaire corporations.
It was easier to play games with all the money than produce anything risky. This was covered by the geometric increase in capabilities of Information Technology that came to control everything. The steady expansion of automation and control systems kept everything working with fewer and fewer hands needed. Workers could be done without allowing their value and pay to decline as projected in late stage capitalist systems. Those with almost all the assets had everything and were not interested in change.
The most isolated and provincial parts of the middle class became angry as their incomes lagged behind costs and they were told money was going to worthless immigrants. They voted to deny themselves more and more services to prevent those others from getting any unearned reward.
How else could the tremendous explosion of technology and wealthy be explained while 80% of America’s population had less than $400 in savings. The others, whether minorities stealing money in the cities, foreign workers stealing jobs, or thieving immigrants must be the cause of the stagnant decades.
In America the old party system had disintegrated to a consolidated party with two halves. One was more dedicated to greed and racism, Republicans, and one with remnants of concern for the others who also needed representation, Democrats. At the top they owed allegiance to the same neoliberal policies and leaders with only their populist voters distinguished by race and education.
In this locked world of late capitalist growth there was little alternative to faceless politicians who had only the current policies to offer. Since these were identical and gave nothing to the masses the only way to distinguish need was driving home the hatred for the others who were stealing the middle classes gains. It had worked for forty years and it worked too well in 2016. What had been created carefully over decades demanded, finally, a correction.
With a lifetime of self promotion and an irrational belief in his own abilities enhanced with constant lies, that others had thought was parody, became reality. He created an alternate universe that would be whatever it took to make people cheer for him. Nothing else mattered. The generic politicians with nothing to offer but weak messages of hate and bigotry were blown away by serious hate and serious bigotry.
Donald Trump became president of the United States.
The problems had started to mount when he became, by default, a serious candidate. All of his background had been based on lies and ways of extorting money to maintain his life style. A growing list of failures and bankruptcies had left him no option but Russian money tied to the Russian mob and money laundering to pay for his loans. Overpriced condos were the classic laundering technique and Donald has taken full advantage of the slide of Russia into a form of nationalist fascism.
A life time of cheating and lying had left patterns, evidence, and easily corrupted people on his payroll. The investigations, indictments, pending trials, helpers flipping to prosecution witnesses, became so crowded that the media needed to publish continuous guides to all the crimes and guilty pleas.
By the end of August 2018 two wheels at least had come off and were rolling toward prison with the president as an un-indicted coconspirator. This is when the story took a sudden turn as these stories usually do.
In the course of a week it became general knowledge that Trump was dangerously deluded and had an increasingly tenuous grasp of anything other than his imagination. White House staff were talking about their fears and talking to psychiatrists to answer questions about someone “coming unraveled”.
Highly placed sources, with great suspicion placed on Pence, were saying it was all true but the good people in the White House were saving the country from the demented president. Something had changed.
It became obvious that the people in charge, the oligarchs, through their mouthpieces in the Congress and internationally were finished with Trump. The burden of criminal evidence and growing irrationality were becoming too dangerous. An incredibly stupid tariff war would eventually destroy the functioning neoliberal international economy. It would take a year to damage irreparably but the damage was growing. And Trump refused to listen. He was the most intelligent person in history and had no idea what he was doing.
Things became more complicated as the international economy built over forty years from the wreckage of the Breton Woods post WWII agreement, continued to grow. The anger of people locked out of the gains, with some seeking fascist saviors, might stop being angry enough if they could borrow money. The international oligarchy needed to deal with angry populations frightened by immigration and refugees caused by global warming and political incompetence in developing countries.
It was becoming obvious that things were getting dangerous. The incompetence and dictatorial rules in the Middle East, much of Africa, South Asia, and South America was the desired condition maintained by the American led empire. Failed information driven uprisings, the Arab Spring and others, were crippled but only at significant cost. People were figuring out in those area that their incompetence leaders were always selected by the old international elite.
In America the remaining wheels on the Trump truck were wobbling. The success of the international economy has been dribbling down to the middle class and that continued its slow, laggard growth. That was going to have to be speeded up but how?
The American case was increasingly dangerous as Trump was out of control and the great majority of the population was becoming angry at the failure of the two party system fronting a one party, two faction reality. The shrinking Trump base was in full denial of reality while facing many years of radical transition from accelerating automation of jobs. Having allowed themselves fewer and fewer services under the old predatory capitalist system that had crippled the middle class people were actively borrowing in a loosened market.
Things needed to be rebalanced or the old oligarchy was going the way of European aristocracy at the beginning modern era. In America the options were few due to decades of sequential political failure. But change could not wait.
Trump was marked for attack. Pence, who had been added to the ticket as an ‘adult in the room’, was approved to confirm the Woodward book’s analysis. At the same time Obama was released to attack Trump directly by name. The clock was ticking but what would happen?
The general stupidity of the Republican Congress made the very large, in depth, Mueller investigation a growing threat to the entire neoliberal American government. That couldn’t be fully released but the only way to stop that without further damage was to remove Trump.
While Pence had been chosen as a fallback for an insane Trump he was also an immediate sop to the evangelicals and Christian wingnuts. But the religionists were growing weaker and Pence was on the freak fringe of that group. Use him or lose him? That became the top question.
Politically a duel resignation would be best. That had worked to save things after a short interim Democratic presidency in the ‘70s. Gerald Ford had been an unthreatening, placeholder president. His honesty worked and countered his less than sharp mind. After Watergate no one wanted a sharp and aggressive mind in the White House. After the trauma of the an insane Trump that would be good to remember.
As a result the fall of 2018 saw the beginnings of an oligarchic revolution to avoid a real change. And that is why the country will most likely acquire the first President pro tempore of the Senate as president. Trump and Pence must go as complicit in illegal actions. Paul Ryan is nothing and is resigning. The question is if this will hold things together for two years? Trump and his corrupt regime must be removed to assure that. Can these very weak people be used to keep things going?
To stop a revolution you must start one. But the history of that is consistent failure as the forces are too diverse and now, especially, as information is loose in the world. No one in America is yet dealing with reality including its ruling elite.