Trump, Thump, Trump, Thump, Trump

Commentary No. 464, January 1, 2018

I was going to write either about the elections in Catalonia, or about debates in Australia on what they should do as a result of U.S.‑Chinese rivalries in southeast Asia. I consider both topics of compelling importance for the immediate future of our capitalist world‑system. But what everyone wants to discuss, it seems, is Mr. Trump ‑ what will he say next, and does it matter?

The question people are asking, friends and foes, is “Can he last?” I didn’t used to think so, but now I do, and here’s why. What is it we know about the present situation? Trump is vastly unpopular and his poll ratings, already extremely low, may well go even lower soon.

Trump claims that the low poll ratings are fake news. And he even seems to believe this himself. Trump acts to satisfy his ego. He measures his success by his ability to stay in office now, win re‑election in 2020, and stay in office until 2024.

This is what I think are his tactics. First, he wants to stay in the news constantly, even if the news is negative news. Notice that this commentary shows that he has accomplished that with me. One of the few perceptive things Trump has said is that many newspaper outlets themselves survive because they speak of him. Otherwise, Trump says, many of them would go bankrupt.

Staying in the news is however not enough. Trump must continue to polarize ever more the U.S. and world public opinion arenas. The more polarized U.S. residents and voters are the safer he is. He is threatened by a possible finding by a grand jury that he solicited and received Russian assistance in his election in 2016. He denies this of course. But his minions also attack viciously whoever purports to give evidence that he has done something illegal. Never admit even the least little thing is their motto. Do anything one needs to do in order to deny the credibility of critics.

Could Trump be impeached? As time goes on, it seems more and more unlikely. And even if the House of Representatives were to vote by majority for impeachment, this merely sends the issue to the U.S. Senate. There it requires a two‑thirds vote to convict. Could he be denied a Republican candidacy in 2020? This seems even more implausible, as Trump would run as an independent and this would almost certainly guarantee a Democratic victory.

The voting outcome of an anti‑Trump move would be the result of two factors. His so‑called core of superloyalists would refuse to support any politicians who would try to oust Trump. At the same time, his “soft” supporters might also abstain from voting pro‑Trump because of their discomfort with his “extreme” positions. The gainers would obviously be the Democrats. Some analysts therefore foresee a so‑called wave election ‑ Democratic victories across the board.

The threat of a Democratic sweep tends to reunite the Republicans and somewhat to divide the Democrats who are debating their own tactics. The crucial thing to remember is that Trump would never go quietly – Trump Thump! He will fight like a wounded tiger to the end. He will do anything however outrageous it be if it will aid his cause. This then is his personal strength. I myself do not think a Trump re‑election would be so disastrous. I believe, as do many, that a President Pence would be even worse for progressive causes than a President Trump – just less thump.

In the rest of the world, Trump is powerless. However, this very fact makes him highly dangerous. As he moves from total ignorance of the world to understanding a little, he makes more and more mistakes. He thus loses more and more his ability ‑ and consequently, that of any future U.S. president ‑ to win any diplomatic advantage. But he is dangerous because he controls the launching of U.S. nuclear weapons with an irrepressible penchant to utter provocative threats, while not being ready really to carry them out.

We are, I’m afraid, stuck with Trump Thump. But that doesn’t at all mean that we are not able to win some victories for progressive causes. It is on what we can do and not on what Trump can do that we should be concentrating.

Note: A correction to this commentary was made on January 10, 2018.