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Trump May be on Trial, But the System That Produced Him Will be Acquitted
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It is a fitting end to four years of Donald Trump in the White House.

On one side, Trump’s endless stoking of political grievances – and claims that November’s presidential election was “stolen” from him – spilled over last week into a mob storming the US Capitol. They did so in the forlorn hope of disrupting the certification process of the electoral college vote, which formally declared his opponent, Joe Biden, the winner.

On the other side, the Democratic party instituted a second, unprecedented impeachment process this week, in the slightly less forlorn hope that Trump leaves office disgraced and humiliated, foreclosing any possibility he can run again in 2024.

Barely concealing its alliance with the incoming Biden administration, Silicon Valley has shut down Trump’s social media megaphone. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has lobbied the joint chiefs of staff to cut an “unhinged” Trump out of the chain of command, in a move that was reportedly rejected out of hand by Pentagon officials because, they told the New York Times, it would amount to a “military coup”.

And Biden, who boasts that he was the author the Patriot Act years before 9/11, has been touting a new “domestic terrorism” bill, as though the US did not already have a plethora of ways to crack down on dissent, of both the legitimate and the illegitimate varieties.

With this as the backdrop, Washington DC is designating the inauguration of Biden next week a “national special security event”.

Authoritarian tribes

All this is not just the latest sign that the US political system has degenerated into tawdry theatre. It is growing evidence that US politics is devolving into a permanent confrontation between two authoritarian tribes. Both are convinced that the other side is un-American, perverting the true republic. Both are unwilling to compromise, believing they share no common ground. And ultimately both are fighting for a rotten cause.

This is not a divide between ethical and unethical politics. This clash is now a bitter grudge match. It is civil war by other means. Not only is the chasm between these rival camps widening, but the real criminals are making off – as they always do – with the loot.

Each tribe has been coalescing for a while now around a centre of gravity. On the Republican side that became clear with the emergence of the Tea Party and the birther movement during Barack Obama’s tenure. But it took Trump’s election as president in 2016 to create a proper oppositional centre of gravity on the other side.

Those in the Democrat tribe who now disdain Trump and his supporters for their desperate refusal to accept November’s result overlook how they greeted Trump’s victory in 2016. They struggled to accept the legitimacy of that outcome too, even if they did not resort to the overt violence of the mob at the Capitol.

It began with arguments that, while Trump might have won the electoral college vote, he lost the popular vote. Four years ago, the electoral college also faced self-serving accusations that it had disenfranchised the majority.

The Democrat tribe took to the streets as well, in protest marches in cities across the US under the banner of the Resistance, denying Trump was their president. That was understandable, given his personal behaviour and the policies he advocated. But it did not end there.

The disavowal of the Trump presidency quickly regressed into a dangerous narrative – one that has never properly gone away, despite the dearth of evidence to support it. The claim was not only that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump win, but that Trump himself had actively colluded with Russia to steal the election from his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Anything that had damaged Clinton – including emails showing that the Democratic leadership rigged its own primaries to make sure she was the party’s candidate rather than Bernie Sanders – got sucked into that vast conspiracy theory. That included the messenger of these bad tidings: Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange.

For years, the Democrat tribe has invested its considerable energies in fruitless efforts to prove its theory, including the first bid to remove Trump through an entirely self-defeating impeachment process.

None of this could be justified politically. It was a Democrat counterpoint to Trump’s MAGA slogan: “Make America Great Again”. Democrats promised the much less catchy SAPD: “Save America from President Deplorable”.

Antagonistic tango

For this tribe, Trump was an illegitimate president from the outset, one whose election to the highest office in the land revealed something unwholesome about their country they preferred to avert their gaze from because it might implicate them too. Removing Trump largely eclipsed the struggle to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.

The obsession with Trump above everything else seemingly rationalised any means – fair or foul – to be rid of him. Few thought about how this would look to his supporters or to those not already safely ensconced in one or other tribe.

Had they wished to understand, they needed only look to the storming of the Capitol last week. How they felt watching the building being ransacked – a Deplorable putting his feet up contemptuously on Pelosi’s desk – was how Trump’s tribe felt watching their president being denounced as a Russian agent and dragged through impeachment proceedings.

This mood is not likely to dissipate. The two political tribes are locked in an antagonistic tango, mirroring each other’s moves, each other’s grudges, each other’s sense of victimhood. Much more unites them than they would ever care to admit.

Festering culture war

This may be the pathology, but what of the cause.

What we see here is the culmination of a festering culture war stoked by an unhealthy investment by both sides in a simple-minded and highly divisive identity politics.


Much has correctly been made of the white supremacism of the most loyal sections of Trump’s tribe, and that was on show again during the invasion of the Capitol. The confederate flag, the neo-Nazi slogans, the T-shirts extolling the Jewish supremacy of Israel are all indicators of a toxic politics of white grievance that may be less articulated but is still felt by a wider swath of Trump’s supporting constituency.

This ugly identity politics is rightly rejected by the other tribe, but is nonetheless mirrored in its equally deep commitment to identity politics. The progressive coalition of identities at the core of the Democratic party may be more reassuring to modern sensibilities, but has served in practice to accentuate to parts of the Trump tribe the supposed threat to their white identity.

This is not to equate the justified struggle of Black Lives Matter against endemic racism, including in the police, with the reactionary forces seeking to preserve some notion of white privilege. It is to simply observe that when the political field of battle exclusively revolves around identity, then one cannot be surprised if each side continues to frame its struggle in precisely those terms.

Those who live by the identity sword are likely to die by that same sword.

The Trump tribe want their president, and the Republican party more generally, to guarantee a white supremacism they fear is being eroded as the Democrat party flaunts its progressive, multicultural credentials. The Democrat tribe, meanwhile, wants to challenge the old order – and most especially reactionary institutions like local police forces – that have been an oppressive bulwark against change.

This dynamic can lead only to permanent confrontation, bitterness and alienation.

Class struggle

There is a way out of the dead-end culture war that pits one tribe against the other. It is to formulate an alternative, popular politics based on class struggle – the 99 per cent against the 1 per cent. But neither the Republican nor the Democratic leaderships, or the respective medias that cheerlead them, has any interest in encouraging a political realignment of this sort.

The Democratic party is not a vehicle for class struggle, after all. Like the Republican party, it is designed to preserve the privileges of an elite. Its biggest donors, like the Republican’s, are drawn from Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Big Pharma, the arms industries. The political battle in the United States is between two parties of capital united by far more than divides them.

The shadow play of US politics is the enervating, antagonistic confrontation of identities described above. While ordinary Americans get stoked into a mutual tribal loathing by a corporate media that profits from this theatre of hate, the elite enjoys a free hand to pillage the planet and the commons.

While we fixate on identities that have been crafted to divide us, while we remain immersed in the surface of politics, while we are distracted from the real battle lines, those elites prosper.

Political paralysis may not harm the establishment. But it is profoundly damaging to us, the 99 per cent, when our communities are being ravaged by a pandemic, when our economies are in meltdown, when the planet is on the brink of ecological collapse.

We need a functioning political system that reflects popular priorities, like Medicare For All, a dignified minimum wage and free college; that understands the urgency of the challenges posed by multiple crises; and that can marshal and channel our energies into solutions, not into endless, irresolvable confrontations based on grievances that have been cultivated to weaken us.

Trump is not the enemy. That target is far too small and limited. The class he belongs to is our enemy, as is the system of privilege he has spent the past four years upholding and his successor will defend just as assiduously.

Whether Trump is ultimately convicted or not in the Senate, the system that produced him will be acquitted – by Congress, by the new president, by Wall Street, by the corporate media.

It is we who will pay the price.

(Republished from Jonathan Cook by permission of author or representative)
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  1. stozi says:

    More like a mistrial.

  2. Those in the Democrat tribe who now disdain Trump and his supporters for their desperate refusal to accept November’s result overlook how they greeted Trump’s victory in 2016. They struggled to accept the legitimacy of that outcome too, even if they did not resort to the overt violence of the mob at the Capitol.

    Nice try, Noodle Boy … This is from day one of the Trump presidency …

    Police injured, more than 200 arrested at Trump inauguration protests in DC

    By Gregory Krieg, CNN
    Updated 0906 GMT (1706 HKT) January 21, 2017

    Washington (CNN) Six police officers were injured and 217 protesters arrested Friday after a morning of peaceful protests and coordinated disruptions of Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony gave way to ugly street clashes in downtown Washington.


    There’s a long line of protest stories with people injured by butt-hurt lefties since then, and yet most of those have been memory-holed as “peaceful protests.”

    This was one of the few occasions where a Trump rally rolled into civil disorder (mostly within the velvet ropes), and even now we learn the “insurrection” at the Capitol started 20 minutes before Trump finished his speech with a call for an actual peaceful protest, and there were more than a few agent-provacateurs in the crown initiating the storming of the interior of the Capitol.

    • Replies: @Thomasina
    , @Greta Handel
  3. – The Coalition of Defectives and Deviants (“Unholy Trinity”: Apes, dykes and squids) is already arrayed against the Productive one; I would call that class-y enough.
    – Medicare for all at ~ Cuban level is both feasible and a must; illegals clogging up emergency rooms with their syphs is a gross misallocation of resources. And gut Big Pharma (I mean, literally)!
    – Free college for everyone with IQ > 115; FIFY 😀

  4. Maybe the real reason they brought in the National Guard was not to protect the Empire’s Capital from Trump Insurrectionists. But, they were brought in to provide backdrop for the Biden inauguration.

    Are people really going to show up for this event much less watch it on Virtual Reality formerly known as TV?

    Would suspect the NG will be required to don civilian cloths to show that Biden is well loved. With over 50 thousand NG at the Capital that should provide enough faces for the close ups at the podium. Calling Mr. Cecil B. DeMille. That, plus CGI should round out the crowd up on the Mall quite nicely.

    And, why not. If Biden can accept the nomination virtually then why can’t he take the oath of office virtually.

    Have they perfected cyborgs yet in the same vein as WestWorld?

    And, I don’t understand why the Pentagon is worried about the appearance of a “Military Coup” when 50 thousand NG troops makes the whole thing look like a “Peaceful Transfer” of power.

    I suspect the military are the real coup plotters and wanted Trump out because he wouldn’t start a war, any war, with our designated enemies. The NG troops are there to make sure Trump is evicted and their pliable puppets are installed.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  5. lloyd says: • Website

    I note from the apparent safety of New Zealand, a certain hedging of commentators on the U S election. I note it here also. Even the intrepid Ron Unz I felt was evasive although by the middle of his article on the election he came out clear what he really thought. They may not always be fully conscious of that being inside the beast. Obscure Americans from America have been sending multiple comments to my N Z small town paper making it plain they were swindled. Commentary there is now closed. Voting in America is a difficut business especially in the Covid age. So they have the natural response of the tiger not so far of the rabbit. That could come later. We will see after January 20.

  6. Whether Trump is ultimately convicted or not in the Senate, the system that produced him will be acquitted – by Congress, by the new president, by Wall Street, by the corporate media.

    The impeachment is a ‘tar baby’.

    The impeachment passion play will ensure a bread and circus performance that by design distracts Trump, while the real threat to Trump and his entourage is that the pardon power he thinks he can wield as a last minute salvation is a complete mirage without some very specific construction and admission, that is likely beyond consideration.

    To have a ‘crime’ to pardon, you have to first have a ‘criminal’. While you don’t need to have an identified criminal to have a crime, you do need an identified criminal, or criminals, to pardon his crime, as a matter of definition. There is no criminal without a known crime, which in its literal sense requires not only a charge, arrest or allegation, but literally requires a previous conviction. This is legally founded on the concept that in our society, no one is considered guilty (of any ‘crime’) until they are afforded due process and Convicted.

    Someone who is not a (convicted / indicted) criminal cannot receive a pardon, because there is no pardon for ‘sneaky’ or ‘dubious’ conduct, only for legally defined ‘crimes’. A crime takes place at a specific time, place, date, meets the elements of a specific offense, and is committed by specified offender(s). To successfully pardon a crime, you would need to articulate the specifics of what crime was committed, where, at what time, place, and by whom.

    This is all required for a crime that is pardonable, and is all laid out in conviction and charging documents in actual pardonable cases such as those that the pardon is designed for.

    Suggesting you are going to pardon individual X for all crimes they may be later accused of between certain dates or years is not pardonable, when legally challenged, because the act is not aimed at crimes, but at devising a protection scheme for those who claim to not be guilty of criminal acts.

    Without a criminal who meets the statutory definition of having committed an actual crime (who, what, when, where, why, how), or without an admission or confirmation that a crime existed, this is not a pardon that can withstand scrutiny.

    Under the 14th Amendment, everyone is entitled to Equal protection under the law if accused charged or convicted of a crime, and while a special exception is made for presidential pardon of ‘crimes’ committed by criminals, no exception is made to indemnify well-connected associates who deny engaging in criminal activity across a period of years, while everyone else in the nation is held accountable, in violation of the 14th.

    Nixon is an artifact from a much different time and society, and the Vietnam draft evaders were part of a class of criminally defined actors who met the elements of a specific offense, for which many high-profile individuals had actually served prison terms and carried convictions.

  7. anon[176] • Disclaimer says:

    Its shit show . Did Obama do anything for the colored for the poor for the middle class? Did Trump do anything for the white for the poor for the middle class ? Did either of the 2 do anything for the economic outlook?

    I agree with the author .

    We may focus narrowly on the current event ,debate and express emotions of varying severity indicating our allegiance to one or other . But the fact of the matter is that the State and the Corporate once again just got merged together. Real worry is the same old worry that in search of emotionally –pleasing wooing answer ,we will miss the solution, target the poor and the powerless and antagonize each other to the point of a dangerous divorce . We don’t need this.

  8. Thomasina says:
    @The Alarmist

    Agreed. Trump was supposed to have begun his speech at 11:00 a.m., but didn’t start until 12:00 p.m. The first wave of protesters arrived at the Capitol Building at 12:40 p.m. and broke through the perimeter.

    Trump’s followers are loyal and had waited in the rain for an hour to hear him. Considering all Washington, D.C. roads had been closed and that it takes approximately 40 minutes to walk between the two locations, that means the protesters would have had to have left Trump’s speech the moment he started speaking. What follower is going to do that?

    At 1:09 p.m. Capitol Police Chief, Steven Sund, called the Sergeants-at-Arms of House and Senate and said that he wanted to call in the National Guard, said he wanted an emergency declaration. They said they would “run it up the chain” and get back to him. (Pelosi and McConnell are in charge of House and Senate security).

    Trump’s speech ended at 1:11 p.m. Forty minutes of walking would have these protesters arriving at the Capitol at approximately 1:51 p.m., over an hour after the troublemakers arrived.

    The Capitol Police Chief resigned a few days later. So Pelosi and McConnell chose this historic day to limit police presence? Hmmm.

    These Trump protesters had the doors opened for them, and they were unarmed. People bent on a takeover are serious and go in armed! These people stayed within the velvet ropes and took selfies.

    John Pilger said, “The made-for-media theatrics on Capitol Hill were not an attempted ‘coup’. Coups are what CIA stages all over the world. Neither was ‘democracy’ in peril. What democracy?”

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  9. Thomasina says:

    They turned down the Capital Police Chief’s request to have National Guard on back-up!

    “Two days before Congress was set to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund was growing increasingly worried about the size of the pro-Trump crowds expected to stream into Washington in protest.

    To be on the safe side, Sund asked House and Senate security officials for permission to request that the D.C. National Guard be placed on standby in case he needed quick backup.

    But, Sund said Sunday, they turned him down.”

    They turned him down, they said, because they didn’t like the optics. After stealing an election, suddenly they’re worried about optics?

    Trump really must pose a threat to them.

  10. @The Alarmist

    This apparent need to magnify and condemn the illegal aspects of January 6 relative to the other episodes you’ve noted has been revealing. You don’t need to leave this website to find

    – Pat Buchanan lamenting “a mob desecration of the temple of the American republic”

    – Eric Margolis sneering at “the mob of yahoos and cretins .. low-IQ thugs waving Confederate flags .. hooligans”

    And I think there’s something deeper at work. Mr. Cook, even when pointing out in this column how the Establishment cultivates and protects itself with Divide & Conquer, identity politics, apparently feels compelled to not only mark the hydrant about

    the overt violence of the mob at the Capitol

    but also throw in smears like

    the white supremacism of the most loyal sections of Trump’s tribe[.]

    and this cliche paragraph

    The Trump tribe want their president, and the Republican party more generally, to guarantee a white supremacism they fear is being eroded as the Democrat party flaunts its progressive, multicultural credentials. The Democrat tribe, meanwhile, wants to challenge the old order – and most especially reactionary institutions like local police forces – that have been an oppressive bulwark against change.

    indicative of his relative sympathies. There’s no place in this caricature of American politics for a black Trump voter.

    Mr. Cook’s upper class British background may underlie this, too. But there’s an apparent, widespread fear among professional commentators that they’ll be ostracized without signaling their virtue and distancing themselves from and disparaging the hoi polloi.

    • Agree: The Alarmist, Thomasina
  11. @Thomasina

    The coup was the media and Dems declaring this an insurrection and then using it as a pretext to demand Pence trigger the 25th Amendment to humiliate Trump or the Dems using Impeachment as a dubious form of a Bill of Attainder to keep him from ever again being a political force in the USA.

  12. @My SIMPLE Pseudonymic Handle

    The NG troops are there to make sure Trump is evicted and their pliable puppets are installed.

    Which reminds me of this …

  13. If congress is pissing off the American people to the point they need tens of thousands of troops to protect them; the American people aren’t the problem.

  14. I almost did not bother reading to the end of this Bolshevik crapfest. The only reason I did, was in fairness to the author, so I can tell him this was a whole lot of Bolshevik crap.
    Yo’, author! This was a lot of Bolshevik crap!
    Sheez, what a load of Bolshevik crap…

    • Disagree: rgl
    • Replies: @anon
  15. rgl says:

    “Museveni Declared Winner of Disputed Uganda Presidential Election”

    “Ugandan Opposition Party Says It Will Challenge Election Result; Two Dead in Protests”

    “Bobi Wine to Legally Contest Uganda Vote, Urges Non-Violence”

    “Uganda Vote ‘Not 100% Free, Credible,’ Election Observer Says”

    “What Next for Uganda’s Opposition After Museveni’s Disputed Win?”

    These are news items from the Africa section of Although about Uganda, if you substitute Biden for Museveni, and Trump for Bobi Wine, these headliners could very well be the lead story in any MSM outlet. Uganda = USA. Uganda. Think about that.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  16. @rgl

    Uganda = USA. Uganda. Think about that.

    A recent US President called the country and her people “odious”. With no justification. He was never called on this.

    He was quite odious himself.

  17. a dignified minimum wage

    Like \$150/hr for citizens of Latin American countries. That would solve many problems!

  18. anon[283] • Disclaimer says:
    @paranoid goy

    Talk to your doctor about Haldol Decanoat monthly injection for your persistent paranoia and bizarre behavior.

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