Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Democrats 2020: Part 2

The Democrats: 2020 Part 2
Peter Schultz

The best take on the Democratic Party, the “debates,”and it’s candidates I’ve seen. Obviously, the debates have become, as intended, a diversion from debating any significant issues. And with two multi-millionaires moderating, the faux-drama went on as planned. This reaffirms my belief that the Democrats not only are untroubled by another Trump term, but actually would prefer one. That’s the best way for them to maintain or fortify their legitimacy as they are unprepared to address the public’s most pressing concerns because they are, essentially, oligarchs waging class war on the public. As is obvious now, with Trump in the White House the likes of Bush Jr., Bill Kristol, Obama, Pelosi, Schumer, et. al. look like anything but the imperialistic oligarchs they are. And if anyone thought Bloomberg would be a formidable threat to Trump, that thought should have dissipated after the debate. I suspect, however, this didn’t surprise the mainstream Democrats like Pelosi and Schumer, who aren’t fools. It looks more and more like another four years of Trump, which not only won’t bother the Democrats but might even be welcomed. The oligarchy is desperate to preserve itself and if the oligarchs deem Trump necessary, then so be it, Trump it will be.


Friday, February 21, 2020

The Democrats 2020

The Democrats 2020
Peter Schultz

            It’s finally become clear to me – although it won’t be to others – that the strategy of the Democratic Party is to ensure, insofar as they can, another 4 years of Trump. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Even sounds crazy, doesn’t it? So what’s up with this? Have I gone around the bend? Perhaps, but……

            So why would the Democrats want 4 more years of a Trump presidency? One reason is because if Trump is president that means that someone like Bernie Sanders isn’t and can’t be president. And it doesn’t take too much imagination to recognize that Bernie represents a threat to the power, to the legitimacy of the likes of Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer, and of course other mainstream Democrats.

            Second, if Trump continues as president than policies that are appealing to large numbers of American citizens but that the Democrats oppose won’t be enacted and the Democrats won’t have to take the blame for their rejection. For example, if Trump is reelected than forgiving student debts will not become law and this is what the wealthy who support the Democratic Party want. These student loans and subsequent student debt is a way of redistributing the wealth of the US upwards, which is of course what the mainstream Democrats have been doing, along with the Republicans, since the Clinton presidency.

            Or consider another example, the “defense” budget. Increasingly, Americans have become skeptical of the nation’s endless wars and have become fidgety about the massive “defense” budgets that are needed to support them. Trump has no problem proposing and securing such massive “defense” budgets, while the Democrats get to complain about them thereby pretending to be less warlike, less imperialistic than Trump and the Republicans. Of course, as past history illustrates any differences between the Republicans and the Democrats regarding US imperialism and US foreign policy in general are miniscule. So, by having Trump serve another 4 years, the Democrats can avoid responsibility for these “defense” budgets that are controlling fiscal and social policy in D.C.

            Also, consider the fact that with a Trump presidency there will not be Medicare for all or any significant reforms made to the Affordable Care Act. And, of course, the mainstream Democrats have made it clear that they don’t want Medicare for all or any single payer health care system. Further, Trump might even be able to propose and pass modifications to social security and Medicaid so that the Democrats won’t have to do these things, even though, again, some mainstream Democrats have indicated they desire to do so.

            Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, a second Trump presidency would ensure and might even fortify the legitimacy of the Democrats, whose authority has eroded significantly along with the authority of almost every US institution you can think of. With Trump in office, who makes it easy to despise him, the Democrats actually look responsible once again and this after they acted irresponsibly in supporting Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, Obama’s drone warfare in nations that the US is not even at war with, supporting the overthrow of democratically elected governments and attempting to overthrow the government of Venezuela, while pursuing a humanitarian militarism in several places in the world. All of this while being the allies of such nations as Saudi Arabia and Israel.

            US institutions have lost the respect of large numbers of the American people, and of course this includes the Democratic Party, which is one reason they lost the 2016 presidential election to the likes of Donald Trump. But as Trump has behaved in such a way that it is easy to despise him, the Democrats recovered some legitimacy and, hence, some respectability as well. Of course, this legitimacy is paper-thin and it could disappear in a slight breeze. But so long as Trump is president, this is unlikely to happen. Combined with the possibilities of maintaining or advancing policies that they like but the people don’t, I think the Democrats are more than willing to try to ensure that Trump gets four more years.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Theh Trump "Crisis" and the Democrats

The Trump “Crisis” and the Democrats
Peter Schultz

            Crises are, always, opportunities. They are opportunities to take stock, so to speak, of one’s situation, study what led to the crisis, and to imagine alternatives to avoid such a crisis from recurring.

            Assuming momentarily that Trump’s presidency is a crisis, the Democrats have not served the nation well in their response to that crisis. In response to Trump’s presidency, they have not articulated any reasonably thoughtful analysis of what preceded and led to this presidency. They seem content to engage in Trump bashing, which has culminated in Trump’s impeachment and, eventually, his acquittal, an acquittal that reflected the Trump bashing that led up to it. To rest impeachment on a phone call of minor importance, when Trump’s assassination of the leading Iranian general brought us to the brink of war with Iran, was ill conceived from several points of view.

            I cannot help but think that the Democrats have chosen this strategy because they don’t actually want to know or acknowledge what led to the Trump presidency. And they don’t want to acknowledge this because they know that their actions and policies have led to Trump’s presidency. They prefer to think that the order they had created pre-Trump, an order that gave us the presidencies of Clinton, Bush, and Obama, represented a distinctly full and almost final political order, one that cannot be imagined to be significantly different or better. In their mindset – a mindset that informs the thinking of all status quo politicians – Trump represents an aberration that is difficult to understand, except by labeling his supporters “deplorables” or mindless people looking for the security offered by a demagogue.

            So, the thinking is, get rid of Trump and return to the halcyon days of Clinton, Bush, and Obama. All was well before Trump and all will be well once again after Trump.

            In this way, the opportunity offered by Trump’s ascendancy to take stock of how our political order contributed to Trump’s rise if forfeited. No doubt this is what mainstream Democrats like Pelosi and Schumer want, especially in light of the challenges they face from those labeled “left-wingers.” So, they engage in bashing Trump – much as he bashes them – while supporting his “defense” budget or attempts to overthrow Assad in Syria or the democratically elected government in Venezuela. To say such a strategy constitutes “a resistance” in any meaningful sense is to reduce resistance to the almost child-like petulance of a two-year old. Such “resistance” provides no basis for a political order that would be immune to the likes of a Trump in the future.

            But then this too is favorable to the mainstream Democrats because, without Trump, their legitimacy and their authority would be tottering on the edge of an abyss. It is difficult not to think that the “Trump crisis” was created by these Democrats to fortify and perpetuate their rule. Such a situation might seem weird, even “conspiratorial.” But the other option, that it is merely coincidental, seems altogether delusion.

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Constitution and Republicanism

The Constitution and Republicanism
Peter Schultz

The Constitution sought to create a pervasively powerful national government. But a pervasively powerful national government requires elitism and nationalism. And nationalism requires expansionism, while expansionism requires war. War requires racism/exceptionalism and racism is fortified by slavery/apartheid/segregation/white supremacy.

Nationalism, expansionism, war, racism, and slavery etc. were not aberrations but rather integral pieces in the constitutional order created in 1787.

Unraveling our debased political order won’t be easy. And, of course, making America great again doesn’t cut it precisely because Trump is not an aberration.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Trump's Impeachment: Success

Trump’s Impeachment: Success
Peter Schultz

            Here’s what some people have trouble understanding: the Democrats attempt to impeach Trump, although it failed to convict him, was still a success. How could that be? Well, to understand that it is necessary to keep in mind that this drama was created for political purposes, purposes that did not require that the Democrats would succeed in removing Trump from office.

            The Trump presidency presented the mainstream Democrats with a perfect opportunity to fortify their legitimacy and the legitimacy of the oligarchy they represent. In light of Trump, previous presidents and other politicians who represent “the mainstream” look good now. It is important to remind ourselves that mainstream politicians, both Republican and Democrat, had, at least prior to Trump, lost much of their legitimacy. The fiasco of Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the economic collapse in 2008, Obama’s lackluster presidency, including his inability to close Guantanamo, to end the war in Afghanistan or in Iraq, offset by the assassination of bin Laden – which didn’t amount to much of an offset – all undermined the legitimacy of our mainstream politicians.

            With the arrival of Trump almost all of this has been forgotten as many people assert that anyone, that is, any politician even one like Bush Jr., would be better than Trump. In this context, Shrub plays the friendly frat boy, distributing candy to the Obamas and offering paintings as his proof of his humanity. Obama’s passive aggressiveness looks like virtue compared to Trump’s classless tweets, speeches, and actions. As Barbra Streisand put it: Even Bush Jr. was better than Trump because he wasn’t “mean spirited.” To which the Iraqis might respond: “Thank God he wasn’t.”

            So, the impeachment has succeeded because it has fortified the impression that Trump is not only classless but also unfit to be president. The impeachment in the House was the Democrats chance to arraign Trump, to put on display, with the help of the mainstream media, his vices, without needing to successfully remove him from office. The end result is that mainstream politicians have regained significant measures of legitimacy, have had their authority restored to a significant degree, as reflected by the argument that people should vote against Trump, vote for the Democratic nominee regardless of who that person might be.

            Of course, there is no guarantee that the Democrats’ strategy will work, that the upcoming election will do what the impeachment couldn’t do, remove Trump from office. A lot depends on how Trump responds to his acquittal, as that has presented him with the opportunity to show that he can play the part of reforming politician. If he does this, my bet is that he will win a second term because Americans are not only dissatisfied, but even irate over our political situation. They want reform, they want change. And the Democrats have rolled the dice with their impeachment charade. We can hope Trump doesn’t realize the good fortune his impeachment has presented to him.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Politics: The Way Toward Understanding

Politics: The Way Toward Understanding
Peter Schultz

“The heart of the problem is the refusal to recognize the participants in these conflicts as political actors,” Li said. “We just suck all the politics out, latch on a word like ‘jihadism,’ and then place it into a category of evil existing outside of space and time.”

“Consider for a moment three different things: the Irish Republican Army, the Republican Party in the United States, and Plato’s Republic,” Li told me, by way of analogy. “All of these employ the term ‘republic,’ and all of them somehow have a connection with violence. If you lumped them together and claimed they represent an ideology called ‘republicanism,’ that obviously wouldn’t make any sense. Yet that’s what the category of ‘jihadism’ essentially does.”

            I came across these two quotes in an article entitled “A New Book Takes on the Problematic Academic Discipline of ‘Jihadism,’” by Darryl Li of the University of Cchicago. And I think they can be applied more generally that Li applies them to “jihadists.” It seems to me that it is commonplace for people to refuse to recognize their declared enemies as “political actors.” Take for example the concept of “communism” as used in the United States, especially during the Cold War. The US had to wage war in Vietnam, e.g., because the “communists” were trying to take over Vietnam. As people eventually noticed, such a characterization “sucked all the politics out of” what was actually going on in Vietnam and placed our enemies “into a category of evil [that] existed outside of space of time,” that is, outside of reality. This led the US into an ever expanding dehumanizing and destructive war, where war crimes became part and parcel of US strategy and tactics. So, in opposing what our elites understood as an “evil existing outside of space and time,” those elites were led into evil, which they embraced as proof of their “virtue.” This is best described as a kind of madness, a madness that might be called “innocence.”

            More generally, it makes me wonder whether we can understand the world we live in without recourse to politics. That is, once that world is drained of political actors and political actions, the real world, the actual world disappears and is replaced by a world of abstractions like “communism,” “capitalism,” “socialism,” and so on. Then these abstractions are taken to be real and to be dangerous, leading even otherwise decent people into brutal, dehumanizing, and destructive wars. By sucking the politics out of our enemies, by turning them into “evil existing outside of space and time,” all bets are off in terms of limits on making war. And this is not a healthy situation at any time, and especially not in a world armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons.

            Americans are not especially fond of politics, seeing it as a dirty business that if only we could rise above the world would be vastly improved, if not actually saved.  But it could be that without politics, without understanding our enemies as political actors, the world is doomed, if not to annihilation than to endless wars. As the author of The Republic put it: Only the dead have seen the end of war. My guess is that Plato did not have much hope that human beings would come to see that understanding the world politically is the only alternative to the madness that characterized and characterizes the human condition. There might be moments, ephemeral situations where peace reigns but that is all that should be expected. And that we are not in such a moment now should be obvious to all as we go on waging war on “jihadists,” “socialists,” “communists,” the “deplorable,” or on “immigrants.”