It is beginning to look as if Trump the Loose Cannon has smashed one thing to many. In the last several days Trump has fired Mattis, the last adult working in his administration, said he will remove US troops from both Syria and Afghanistan, and said he would like to fire the Fed Chairman. In the wake of all of this the US stock market has been falling like a rock for the last week.
Could the current moment of Trump’s irresponsible global decisions and the consequent crash of the stock market be the beginning of the end for Trump’s republican coalition? Could this be the beginning of the end for Trump and/or the Republican Party and/or the hegemony of big business in America?
In the first place, last week’s market crash may be short lived. In fact it appears to be rebounding as I write. (December 26, 2018). However, the day will come that US markets will again correct in dramatic fashion; it is inevitable, it always happens sooner or later. Whenever this does happen, will it portend the beginning of the end for Trump and the Republicans?
I suspect that big business and the very rich and the Republicans are more of less indifferent to stock market crashes. After all, the big corporations and the very rich made out like bandits in the last big recession beginning in 2008. They are not necessarily fearful of a stock market crash. They know they can make money no matter what the market is doing. I suspect that stock market crashes are horrendous disasters only to small investors.
Big business’s real dilemma right now is probably more in the vein of, “Can we get anything more of value out of Trump at this point or is he of more value to us gone.”
Big business (which is the real power in America) and the Republicans that represent it, like the calm certainty of money coming in regularly. Trump’s erratic loose cannon behavior is not something big business likes. They cannot rely on him to always be on their side. Big business does not like the uncertainty that Trump continually injects into everything. Trump is not a reliable ally who is always helping them make money. He represents unreliability and uncertainty and capriciousness and big business does not like this.
I think that perhaps big business has gotten what it wanted out of Trump, the tax bill. And now it is ready to be done with him and get back to business as usual. At this point, Trump the loose cannon has unpredictably smashed just one thing too many.
Basically I think big business and big Republicans see Trump at this point as being more dangerous than helpful.
I suspect that big business and the Republican establishment mostly just want to be rid of Trump at this point. But, are they capable of make him disappear before the end of his term, like they did to Nixon?
Trump always has his base hovering in the background which is his one great source of power. It is the one thing he always must maintain. And he has been successful in doing this, so far. His popularity with Americans has been hovering around 40% for his entire term. Will big business be able to get around this and force him to resign or to somehow else disappear? Can he be forced to just step aside and somehow just fade away before the end of his term. As I said, the Republicans managed to force Nixon out before he could damage their party further.
And, what are Trumps chances of re-election looking like if he cannot be disappeared before the end of this term?
One thing that is not very hopeful about all of this is that big business, the real power in America, doesn’t really need Trump. Big business controls the government at this point and as long as they are doing that, nothing much is really going to change, with or without Trump. The real necessity is to break the power of the Republicans and perhaps break the power of big business. In the long run this doesn’t look terribly likely to me. Is there any real hope that big business and the Republicans can somehow be defeated? Not likely I think. Could even a huge disaster accomplish this?
Here is another interesting question: Is Trump even aware of the damage he is doing: damage to his own base, damage to American prosperity, damage to American power and prestige? I don’t think so. I think he sees himself as a good man doing good work in a difficult and ignorant world. I think he sees himself as the last intelligent man who is saving the world. No one sees himself as ignorant or evil or incompetent or a danger to others. This has always been part of human nature. Even Hitler saw himself as a savior of Germany, if not of all humanity. Objectivity is not a prominent human characteristic.
But, on the other hand, even as Trump exonerates himself in his own head, I think he knows very well that all of his racist, bigoted blather is really just cover for an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle classes to his own class. Below is a quotation from an essay by Adam Hochschild where he says just that. In this essay the term devil stands in for the political use of racism, which has been a dominant part of American politics for most of American history.
“Whose interests does the devil serve? And here, a long time ago, Du Bois and Baldwin both nailed it. As Trump and his fellow billionaires see their taxes go down and regulations evaporate, it’s painfully clear that all the charges about traitorous black athletes or terrorists who have to be walled off at the border are a smokescreen masking an enormous ongoing transfer of wealth. The same is true where other Trumps reign around the world. The tycoon friends of Modi and Orbán are doing very well indeed these days, thank you.”
The essay that the above quotation comes from is “American Devilry” by Adam Hochschild, from the OCTOBER 25, 2018 ISSUE of the New York Review Books. The main book Hochschild is reviewing in this essay is Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion, and Revolution by Ben Fountain.
Below is a continuation of the quote above.
“That transfer of American wealth from the poor to the rich has been going on for several decades. The basic facts are all too familiar: executive salaries and corporate profits soaring, union membership and power plummeting, real wages stagnant or declining for decades for the poorer 40 percent of our people. And those losing ground feel increasingly precarious and angry. But Fountain tells the tale well, reminding us sadly that, despite Barack Obama’s personal decency, there was no interruption of this pattern under him. During his first term (in the first half of which the Democrats also controlled both houses of Congress), none of the major figures who caused the 2008 financial crisis was punished, no big banks were broken up, and 95 percent of income gains went to the country’s wealthiest one percent.
Also painfully clear is the way Hillary Clinton’s tone-deaf campaign and her coziness with Goldman Sachs and Clinton Foundation donors held forth no alternative vision to ever-greater inequality. “Hillary couldn’t see the forest for the trees,” Fountain writes, “due to the elemental fact that she was one of the trees.” She was the culmination of thirty-five years of policies that made the Democratic Party become “not so much the champion of the working and middle classes as the party that made things worse a little more slowly than Republicans.”
Fountain quotes Justice Louis Brandeis: “We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” In search of hope, he goes back to someone else who felt the same way, despite being a man of considerable wealth himself, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The most glowing pages in Beautiful Country Burn Again are about what FDR tried to do with the New Deal, which Fountain believes transformed life in this country more than anything since the Emancipation Proclamation: “The roads, waterways, bridges, sewers and water mains, courthouses, libraries, and power grids.”
“The New Deal is a far from perfect model. It didn’t significantly rein in corporate power, southern Democrats amended important programs to exclude blacks, and it didn’t put most of the unemployed back to work—unfortunately, that required World War II. But it showed a government trying on all burners to help those suffering most, create jobs, enlarge the rights of labor, extend Social Security and other parts of a safety net, and build public works that could benefit everyone. Until we have something like that again, the tens of millions of Americans who continue to fall behind economically will be looking for someone to blame—and demagogues will be only too happy to conjure up the traditional devil of race and tribe. No new Roosevelt is yet on the horizon, and we’re now stuck with the first American president in history endorsed by leaders of the Ku Klux Klan.”
And sadly enough, I think this pretty well sums up America at this point.