Anyone paying attention to the Bernie vs. Hillary vs. Trump American election cycle knows that this is no longer business as usual. Both parties within the two-party system have experienced shakeups that have deviated from the preferred script of the respective political elites.
Bernie Sanders, a lifelong registered Independent, became a Democrat in the 11th hour in order to get in front of the camera and inject a European-style, social-democrat consciousness into the public. This anti-plutocratic sentiment proved quite inconvenient for the Hillary campaign. Now that Clinton has firmly secured the nomination, it is no secret that it took an enormous effort on the part of the DNC and corporate backed media to ensure the rigging of the election in her favor. The “Bernie or Bust” group are a testament to the awakening Left of the nation that patience is thinning for the corporatist Democratic party.
Cue the reality-show star… You’re hired!
On the Republican side, Trump—the farthest thing from a Meritocrat you can find—became an unstoppable phenomenon: a reality-show imbecile with no substance and an all-brash style that the most xenophobic and racist elements of the American Right craved covertly for years, now to be unleashed via overt anti-intellectualism and bigotry. So powerful was this reality-show star’s presence that the shoo-ins for the Republican nomination had no chance. Just as Bernie proved inconvenient for the Hillary script, so too did Trump prove troublesome for Bush, Rubio, Cruz, and the others.
The most telling sign of the times is the ineffectiveness of even Citizens United’s diversion of plutocratic interests’ gargantuan funds in order to prop up candidates. Jeb Bush, with his hundreds of millions of dollars diverted to artificially prop up his campaign, was annihilated by the Trump firestorm, which ran its campaign on a fraction of the funds. As for the long view of history, the degree of unpredictability in this election cycle seems to be presaging a fundamental collapse of the political order. Considering that true revolutionary shifts occur in such circumstances—and not piecemeal sanitary reform within the bounds of status quo acceptability—American radicals with a nuanced sense of history can now sense the opportunity of a lifetime.
Trump = division of American Right
In historical context, this means that a new paradigm is emerging: one that defines the cyclical loss of hitherto perceived infallible power of the elites to control everything. While Hillary indeed succeeded in defeating Bernie, the other outsider— Trump—succeeded fabulously at finalizing the great schism of the American right. Now, many prominent Republicans, including previous nominees Mitt Romney, John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and others, will be trying to ensure a Hillary victory.
Hillary is safe, she is status quo, she is business as usual. Trump is a volatile, tactless anti-intellectual and would be the lowest quality president this nation has ever had. He represents a division of the American Right and breakdown of stability. A Trump presidency would publicly slaughter any hope for Equal Opportunity for Every Child. The toxic, divisive environment he would create would ensure an unprecedented agitation in the populace. While his supporters would enthusiastically and sheepishly support him, he would be the most hated president in history.
This is precisely why Trump is a godsend to the radical Left. He would be the most revolutionary president in history.
How to get a leftist into the presidency is not what the Left should be deliberating. They must comprehend that the onset of a candidate like Trump is a harbinger for the collapse of the current political order. Any radical authentically critical of the American plutocratic empire recognizes this collapse as the only political occurrence that can predicate a sane, rational system. The plausibility that someone so crude, simplistic, and unpresidential, with zero political experience, could soon be Commander in Chief indicates that the prevailing political chapter is ending. Consider the magnitude of difference between the current order and a radical new vision of America the Left might imagine (totally free of plutocracy and militarism, focused instead on the grand visions of rationally attaining the common good). The Trump presidency political breakdown will provide the space for the radical Phoenix to rise from its ashes, a Phoenix that could never be born from the current system.
Every authentic radical leftist will do everything they can to support a Trump victory—not because he represents what they represent, but precisely because he represents the exact opposite of what they represent. Can you see Inheritance Tax ushered in under Trump? All revolutionaries, radicals, and Jacobins know that presidential elections every four years provide the illusion of people-power while unelected plutocrats pull the strings uninterrupted year-in and year-out. At best, sanitized weak liberalism reigns within the corporatist Democratic party that throws reformist bones to the people—just enough to placate them and forestall real revolutionary sentiment.
Reformist concessions? Have you forgotten your lessons?
If we are to imagine the authentic Jacobin vision of a radically new government, economy and society, we must accept that it will never emerge from intermittent reformist concessions of center-right Democratic policies. If we determine to make any headway towards public banking, we must view luke-warm concessionism as a deadly intravenous sedative to the spirit of the people. Every radical knows that true change emerges when the people rise up, demand a new way, implement the vision, and do not take no for an answer. Such a movement requires the fuel of enormous emotion, drive, and will.
This is the history lesson the elites know all too well, so they will do anything in their power to ensure a Hillary victory. While trust in her is certainly diminishing as popular anti-plutocracy consciousness emerges, a Hillary victory will certainly placate the Left and numb revolutionary consciousness much more than will a Trump victory.
Had King Louis XVI paid more attention to the people’s needs and placated them with reformist policies, France well could have remained a monarchy to this day. Due to the utter contempt the French masses harbored towards the monarchy, sufficient will was built up to incentivize the implementation of a radical new anti-monarchy Republican vision. In retrospect, would we have preferred a reformist monarchy to a Republic?
The perfect vile thesis for the necessary radical antithesis
The dialectic must play out fully for an ideal vision to materialize. The Thesis must become so great, so vile, so contemptible as to spark a radical Antithesis. The greater the action, the greater the counter reaction. The people act once they have something to react to. After mass murders, gun legislation is discussed. After bank collapses, bank regulations are implemented. After terrorist attacks, measures of “public safety” and surveillance are implemented. None of these things would happen except as a reaction to a perceived problem. No action occurs in a vacuum. Revolutions are always reactions. Therefore, for a revolution (the largest political reaction of all) to occur, the thing being reacted to must be so emotionally stirring as to inspire change to an immense degree.
Since Trump is an anti-intellectual with zero substance, we cannot know with certainty what level of toxicity his presidency will directly produce; but it is clear that he elicits extraordinary contempt and emotion from his detractors, more so than any other candidate in recent history. Has there ever been a campaign in the primaries, let alone the general election, whose rallies continuously get flooded with protestors and that in every respect get shut down? Do you imagine that all those anti-Trump protestors are lifelong activists, or that many of them were riled up from previous political apathy? If the primaries produce such a knee-jerk reaction, can you imagine if he actually becomes president, the reaction from current anti-Trump protestors, and how many more protestors there will be?
Obama’s replacement of Bush bought the elite eight more years.
In the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the Left had already run out of patience, and Bush fatigue was palpable. Per usual for the action-reaction process, it was the Wall St.-induced collapse of the economy that precipitated the reaction known as Occupy, years later. Would Occupy have emerged in the absence of an economic collapse? Could Debt Erasure have registered as a legitimate imperative or barged into the public conversation without the sudden mass homelessness of mortgage holders?
Now, imagine if Bush had had four more years left. Luckily for him, he was already a lame duck. But, if in the context of massive Bush fatigue exacerbated by a financial collapse Bush was to remain president much longer, it’s reasonable that the Occupy movement could have become much larger, better organized, and more effective than its final state. Instead, it petered off. Why? Because of the greatest marketing feat in history: the 2008 Obama campaign and election. The elite know when fever pitch is nigh. They’ve learned their history lessons. The elite know when to scale back a bit, when to seemingly give the people what they want, just as FDR’s New Deal put off an inevitable revolution, allowing the elite to give up a little at the time, so as not have to relinquish all later.
As most on the Left realize in retrospect, Obama was indeed business as usual: bailouts for Wall St., corporatists swept into positions of power, expansion of the war on terror, more than Bush could have dreamed. But in the moment, the euphoria was all too real. Again the dialectic played out, but this time in reverse, so fatigued by Bush were the people that an articulate African American democrat with a rhetoric of hope and change was all the masses needed to produce a landslide victory. Eight more years were bought. The revolution was again postponed.
by Phoenix Goodman
This article is the first part of a two-part article series. Read part two of Why the Radical Left Needs Trump to Win, by Phoenix Goodman.