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America Faces a ‘Gettysburg Moment’ – But Trumpism Will Not Vanish
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Pundits and polls are at one in predicting a victory for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the presidential election, portraying the vote as a non-military rerun of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, when the north defeated the south in what is regarded as a turning point in the civil war. The violence will be less this time round, but the hatred between the antagonists is at a similar level.

A comparison with the civil war is appropriate because the confrontation between Trump and Biden echoes the armed conflict a century and a half earlier. White America had broken up into two nations then and, to a significant degree, it is two nations now. Trump’s core support is in the south and rural areas; Biden’s is in the north and metropolitan cities.

The match between the two periods is not perfect and the geographical boundaries that define the two different American national identities have changed. Yet, at the core of Trumpism is the white male evangelical Protestant brand of American nationalism that originates in the south and, since the Civil Rights Act of 1965, has blended with and largely taken over the Republican Party. It has transmuted into a radical American nationalist party, its ideology a toxic combination of racism, chauvinism, messianism, social conservatism and free market economics. It enhanced its political punching power by becoming the vehicle for the grievances of the white working and middle class, whose social and economic security has crumbled under the impact of globalisation and new technology.

It was a strange alliance of billionaires and the left-behind that propelled Trump into the White House in 2016, and it would be good to believe that it will face its Gettysburg moment on Tuesday. Battered by almost four years of Trump’s megalomaniac rule, a majority of Americans from Black Lives Matter supporters to long-standing members of the establishment cannot wait for this to happen. Conservative columnist George Will wrote confidently this week that we were seeing the moment when “the Donald Trump parenthesis in American history closes”, while the Republican Party that enabled his rise was facing a political massacre.

Great if this is true, but Trump has often succeeded against the odds, as he did against Hillary Clinton, because his opponents underestimate him. Crude and mendacious he may be, but he is an extraordinarily effective campaigner, much aided by the ineptitude of the Democratic Party leaders.

Fortunately, the breaks that went in his favour in 2016 are now going against him: the coronavirus itself, the consequent economic collapse, his own infection, and the virus sweeping through states that he needs to win in the last days of the campaign. Panicky headlines on the front pages of newspapers in Wisconsin are all about the surging epidemic there, making Trump’s efforts to play down the illness sound crazed and self-destructive.

A pundit like George Will, along with most of the media, wants to see Trump as a “parenthesis”, an appalling aberration in American history, but here they are on shaky ground. The election of Trump may have been one of history’s wild cards, but he is only facing defeat because of an even wilder card in the shape of the onset of an unprecedented pandemic. Late last year, he had a good chance of winning a second term on the back of a booming economy, given that few sitting presidents had been displaced when the economic winds blew in their favour.

No wonder Trump appears to rage against the virus itself, ludicrously belittling its virulence and deadliness, even though it has so far killed 225,000 Americans.

Yet the very fact that it has taken the coronavirus to defeat Trump is evidence, unfortunately, that he is not the aberration or parenthesis that his opponents think him to be. Conviction that he is stems from wishful thinking by many Americans – and a majority of commentators – who detest him as a satanic figure whose rise to power is a horrible historic joke. But such an interpretation, understandable though it may be, underestimates the strength of the forces that backed him and seriously misreads American history.

All countries where slavery was an important institution find it almost impossible to escape a legacy of racial fear and hatred that does not dissipate long after its formal abolition. This is as true of Caribbean islands, where slaves worked in the sugar plantations, as it is of the former slave states in America. Gettysburg was the political and military turning point of the civil war – or is so remembered because of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address – but the defeat of the Confederacy in 1865 did not mean that America ceased to have three different national identities roughly centred on the north, the south and the black community. Clashes and combinations between the three are what makes American culture different and interesting.

Trump fanned and exploited these racial and cultural divisions, but he did not invent them. The north’s military victory destroyed slavery, but it was replaced by the systematic apartheid imposed on black people by the Jim Crow laws. Discrimination was supposedly ended by the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, but the real benefits for black Americans were meagre and uneven, and the counterattack against racial equality had much success against such progress as was made.

At the beginning of the 21st century, it was calculated from official figures that one in three black men would go to prison during their lifetime. As Michelle Alexander wrote in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colourblindness: “Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of colour ‘criminals’” – and then engage in all the discrimination that had supposedly been outlawed.


Ensuring that black people have “felon” status and therefore cannot vote has been central to Republicans winning elections in states like Georgia, Florida and Texas – and may do so again on Tuesday. An important ingredient in Republican success in voter suppression has been the Democratic Party’s failure to combat it effectively. Indeed, Biden’s energetic role in passing legislation that criminalised a significant part of the black population is constantly highlighted by his critics. His supporters prefer to focus attention on the Supreme Court decision in 2013 that struck down a key provision of the Civil Rights Act and allowed Republican-dominated states to gerrymander districts, cut the number of polling booths, and otherwise limit non-white minorities ability to cast their vote.

Voter suppression on a mass scale may not be enough to see Trump re-elected, but its impact should not be underestimated: it was probably decisive in his winning the narrowest of victories in 2016 (much more important than anything the Russians could get up to). A landslide Democratic victory might give them the strength, though perhaps not the will, to reverse the cumulative disenfranchisement of minorities.

“America will never be destroyed from the outside,” Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying. “If we falter and lose our freedom, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” The prospect of such destruction came very close during Trump’s years in the White House and has not yet disappeared. If he stays there, of course, it will be a Gettysburg in reverse, fulfilling Lincoln’s dire forecast.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
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  1. This article reflects exactly why Trump was elected. The left has completely lost touch with reality. And most republican politicians are left of AOC. There is no possibility of meaningful dialogue between normal people and the left. How do you talk to people who deny gravity?

    • Agree: Getaclue, Sulu, GeneralRipper
    • Replies: @Getaclue
    , @Mr. Grey
  2. Surprised to see Patrick Cockburn write such a tone-deaf and paint-by-numbers article, regurgitating all the fact-free criticisms of Trump from the MSM.

    • Agree: Gidoutahere
    • Replies: @Jake
  3. Part way through this piece I wondered how a grown man could get so much wrong about Trump, those who voted for him and America in general. I began to suspect that the author was not a native of the USA. So I googled Packrick Cockburn and indeed he proved to be from the British Isles.

    In the future, Mr. Cockburn, I suggest you restrict the distribution of your scribblings to your own side of the pond. You see, when you offer up material to people who know so much more about the subject than you do, you run the risk of being exposed for the amateur you are.

    I would say “You should be embarrassed”, but I don’t think you do embarrassment. You’ve moved on to obliviousness. Apparently there are people who are willing to pay for that. As they say, “It takes all kinds” and apparently, one can, through being disingenuous–or truly clueless–actually make a living.

    The world is full of surprises. But the wheels of justice grind exceedingly fine, albeit slowly, so you shall, in the end, get your comeuppance. No man can go through life as ignorant and bigoted as you are and not run afoul of many shitstorms, and I think that is the source of your animus towards your betters. The lowliest Trump supporter has more integrity than you do.

  4. Dan Hayes says:

    Cockburn appropriately ended this article by quoting Master War Criminal Lincoln! How signally apropos!

    • Agree: BuelahMan
  5. Getaclue says:

    Really — I read this garbage article and thought the same — is this guy really this out of touch or is he paid to put this out as a NWO shill? Lunacy….

  6. Since I took the trouble to rebuke you, Mr. Cockburn, I suppose that I have undertake the Karmic duty to educate you.

    You cannot possibly understand the situation that prevails between blacks and whites in America because you are employing the wrong language, in Wittgenstein’s sense. So out of touch are the concepts you bring to bear on the problem that most blacks in America would not understand what you are talking about. Only those blacks who had attended college and become familiarized with Marxist thinking would follow you because yours is a top down approach. It’s a conceptual rendering of America’s race relations and like an abstract expressionist’s painting of a landscape it bears only a fleeting resemblance to what is being depicted.

    Let me provide you with a better, more appropriate vocabulary.

    Blacks were bought from black African Kings who were selling enemies of their tribes. The slave trade and ivory were Africa’s leading cash crops at the time. The men who bought Africans intended to use them as agricultural laborers. This was an unfortunate choice for all involved. First, because the black men brought here were hunters and warriors. The tribes from which they came did not practice extensive agriculture or if they did, then the men did not participate. So the men had never undergone the culling that a farming lifestyle imposes on a population. The male slaves were not tame draft animals, they were fierce savages.

    Genetically, there are indications that Sub Saharan Africans have cross bred with a very primitive primate with whom we homo sapiens share a most recent common ancestor who lived about 700,000 years ago. We Euro whites and Sub Saharan blacks are not on the same evolutionary page.

    Post reconstruction Southern whites segregated themselves from blacks to prevent their being victimized by runaway black violence. This violent streak in blacks is well documented by many sources today and your ignorance of these facts shows you to be incompetent.

    Beginning from these incontrovertible facts it is impossible to draw the conclusions you do.

  7. Rahan says:

    “America will never be destroyed from the outside,” Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying. “If we falter and lose our freedom, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” The prospect of such destruction came very close during Trump’s years in the White House and has not yet disappeared. If he stays there, of course, it will be a Gettysburg in reverse, fulfilling Lincoln’s dire forecast.

    TRANSLATION: Look what you made us do, you made us start dismantling democracy without even hiding! If you want some hint of democracy to survive, you have to vote correctly this time, you dimwits! Because by Satan, if you vote this guy into office for a second time, we’re gonna destroy everything, and that’s how Trump is bad for democracy.

  8. anarchyst says:

    Cockburn is “full of it”.

    He conveniently ignores the strength of “flyover country” something that he and almost all “limousine liberals” discounts, especially when it comes to elections.

    Our saving grace is the electoral college system, which equalizes political power between the “several states”, keeping the densely-populated states from steering the presidential election to its advantage.

    As tot the “polls”, they are terribly wrong. All one has to do is look at the immense crowds that Trump pulls in compared to Biden’s lackluster “popularity”.

  9. unit472 says:

    I assume ANYONE who wants to be POTUS is a megalomaniac. Its a necessary qualification for the job. While Trump’s ego is large he doesn’t try and conceal it and is not a devious criminal like Hillary Clinton or a corrupt cadaver like Joe Biden. That’s the real cleavage in American life. Corrupt insiders controlling a bloc of low IQ negro voters and an army of public sector parasites living off the efforts of exploited private sector workers. The ‘billionaires’ have for the most part thrown their support and cash behind the corrupt insiders knowing they can buy a Hillary, Obama or Biden with a book deal, a directorship or two or a few million dollar speaking engagements. Trump is impervious to their bribes and that scares them.

    • Agree: anarchyst
  10. Jake says:
    @Irish Savant

    I am not surprised. He sees some things but misses more than he sees because he remains a doctrinaire Brit Liberal. The Brit Liberal always falls back on old prejudices against the traditional life and traditional values people of rural areas and small towns. The Brit Liberal, like the American Liberal, cannot operate without damning non-Elite whites and wanting more government action to curtail non-Elite whites.

    Cockburn, because of his ideology, remains gleefully ignorant that America’s foreign policy that is so wrong morally and tactically is the product not of rural and small town whites but of urban and urban-loving Jews and Country Club WASPs.

  11. MaxyBoy says:

    Patrick Cockburn.

    Well, I’m shocked at this moronic piece of scribble.

    Yes, Trump will probably lose, but he’s better off out of it.

    America isn’t worth it and this limey should go and live in post-Trump America.

  12. s’truth….White ‘Murkans will keep on voting Republican

    until it kills them.

    • Replies: @GeneralRipper
  13. Mr. Grey says:

    Yes it’s getting hard to criticize Cockburn because he is so confused and disjointed, trying to make sense of his delusions and paranoia. Where does one start? He should go back to reporting on the Middle East.

  14. @Haxo Angmark

    We’d really rather have actual physical “civil war”, than all your underhanded. smothering bullshit attempts to kill

    Bring it on, FAGGOT!

    • Replies: @Supply and Demand
  15. jsinton says:

    If Cock wanted to write something constructive, he should take up residence in Baghdad again and tell the West why they need to leave.

  16. RodW says:

    How does one compute Trump getting corona as a reason for his defeat?

  17. Druid says:

    I’m sorry I wasted 5 minutes of my life on this trash! Cockburn is British! Oh, how they’ve fallen!

  18. Much like in the 1860s, the Union states make all the useful stuff, and the South is nothing but a swamp-pen of barely civilized Scots-Irish and feral Delta-style negroes useful only for slave labor. Polite exception made to New Orleans and the cajuns. And we even rebuilt their dumpster fire after ‘65. Pathetic. Has anyone looked at Mississippi’s Human Development Index lately?

    • Replies: @GeneralRipper
  19. BuelahMan says:

    Just great. A limey explaining American history so badly that most people laugh at the ignorance. Just look at the comments.

    How many times did two Yankees start a civil war with the South over secession which was legal?

    Does the burnt cock not understand any of the real reasons his hero, Abe, started the war against southerners who simply wanted their own country free from Northern control and thievery? Does he even understand the difference between secession and war?

    Go away Pat.

    • Agree: GeneralRipper
  20. Trump brings home a regrettable truth about American politics: that it is best left to the political class, as repugnant as they can be. The price paid for the lesson is a quarter million of our fellow countrymen needlessly dead, and counting.

    We tend to view our history in a vacuum, as though the rest of the world did not notice or get involved in our affairs. Lincoln saw the long view of the war. The issue was not petty sectional power struggles but rather whether democracy itself was viable. All eyes were on the United States, the world’s sole experiment in republican self-government. Tyrants of the old world greeted the news of secession with relief and delight. Their scheming had paid off, and now their subjects would see what a destructive delusion it was to imagine they could govern themselves wisely, and be grateful again for their kings and emperors.

    • Troll: GeneralRipper
  21. Good read, PC. Has Trump ever been diagnosed with any form of Asbergers Syndrome to your knowledge?

    • Replies: @Wielgus
  22. @Supply and Demand

    Are you and Paddy gonna suck on a .357 and hopefully pull the trigger late on Election night?

    LOL…Commie faggots.

    • Replies: @Supply and Demand
  23. “It was a strange alliance of billionaires and the left-behind that propelled Trump into the White House in 2016, and it would be good to believe that it will face its Gettysburg moment on Tuesday. Battered by almost four years of Trump’s megalomaniac rule, a majority of Americans from Black Lives Matter supporters to long-standing members of the establishment cannot wait for this to happen. Conservative columnist George Will wrote confidently this week that we were seeing the moment when “the Donald Trump parenthesis in American history closes”, while the Republican Party that enabled his rise was facing a political massacre.”

    This is as incorrect as the notion that the issues the current executive was elected to address were his ideas as opposed to the ideas i n place before he even entered the fray.

    “Trumpism” will depart when the man known as Donald Trump departs. However, the issues will remain and that means, they are not uniquely owned or developed by the current executive — who will depart when his term or terms end.

    “Trumpism” is about supporting the man, not necessarily the issues. One can certainly support the man and be utterly clueless about the real issues at stake.

    There is a difference.

    The Republican party should it falter will have itself to blame as would this executive, but regardless of the election, the republican party isn’t going anywhere —

    The current executive is not the underdog in this fight, thanks to the utter incompetence of his competition.

  24. Bro43rd says:

    Cockburn is just practicing Goebells stategy of the big lie. Repeat it often enough and the people will come to believe it. Although I find it strange that it’s on UR, maybe to give the appearance of both sides getting equal publication. Or just to give the commentariat an easy target. Whichever, I generally get a few laughs reading PC & then lol reading the comments.

  25. Wielgus says:
    @Robert Magill

    No specialist but I think that is about the least likely syndrome he would have. The admittedly fictional character Sheldon Cooper is almost a classic example of it and Trump is nothing like him. Trump is just not nerdy and is fairly socially aware, not a characteristic of Aspies.

  26. @GeneralRipper

    Election night is my morning, and I have a class (CELTA theory of linguistics) to teach, so… no!

    • Replies: @GeneralRipper
  27. @GeneralRipper

    The hot war you want will be you & your loved ones getting droned by a tranny nerd in a Pentagon toilet seat from zer’s iPad. Enjoy, retard. I’ll be laughing from Dalian.

    • Troll: GeneralRipper
  28. Notsofast says:

    “… has killed 225,000 americans.” Has it? It seems influenza has now all but disappeared world wide, down 98%. What a coincidence. Do you think any of those covid deaths might be misattributed?

  29. @Supply and Demand

    LOL…I figured you for some pussy ass “academic”. Well perhaps after class you can watch your fellow Commie “bitch outs” just like in 2016?

    This one was classic.

    Too bad they didn’t give that dumb cunt a wood shampoo while they were dragging her out.

    I’m betting the wailing and gnashing are gonna be even better this year. 🙂

    Stay the fuck out of this country and you should be fine, Professor. You Commie faggots have worn out your welcome, I’m afraid.

    • Replies: @Supply and Demand
  30. I made it halfway through this load of sniveling Cuckery before I bailed out, didn’t want to lose my lunch.
    Cockburn is apparently an International manure spreader AND stooge for (((globalist))) interests, the goofy bitch.

    • Agree: GeneralRipper, Sulu
  31. @GeneralRipper

    Lol like I’d teach in America. Enjoy your burning shithole 3rd world.

    • Troll: GeneralRipper
    • Replies: @GeneralRipper
  32. It wouldn’t be too hard to replace writers like this with article-spinning software. Code an algorithm that randomly lifts the most commonly repeated unproven assertions from left-leaning publications and you’re most of the way there.

    What I’m wondering is why he’s featured at all. Did he have some special insights or interesting opinions in the past, before succumbing to mainstream Trump derangement syndrome? Or is he just here to keep us aware of the uninspired opinion pieces that most “journalists” crank out ad nauseam?

  33. @Supply and Demand

    Golly! How will we muddle through without one more Commie twat “professor” discharging mental diarrhea here in the US?

    Won’t you please reconsider?…lol

    Hopefully one day the Chinks will turn on you and all the other expats and beat you and your family to death in the streets. That would be a real hoot, and well deserved.

    • Replies: @Supply and Demand
  34. @GeneralRipper

    About as likely as the South getting their country back; never.

    • Troll: GeneralRipper
  35. Sulu says:

    Cockburn. I wonder how far the irony of that name extends.

    Well Mr. Cockburn, I suspect you and other self appointed pundits of your ilk are going to be sorely disappointed here in a few more days. Trump will be here for another 4 years and there will be a great wailing and gnashing of teeth from the left.


  36. Forbes says:

    Poll: More Than 60% Of Democrats Plan To Vote Early Vs. Less › sites › 2020/10/07
    “Oct 7, 2020 · “By the morning of Election Day, Nov. 3, a majority of votes for president may have already been cast.  who plan to vote early in the 2020 election and those who plan to  voted, compared with just 28% of Republican voters.”

    AP News says:
    “AP-NORC poll: Majority plan to vote before Election Day › article › election-2020-vir
    Sep 18, 2020 · Fifty-four percent of voters say they will vote before polls open on Election Day. More Election 2020:  evidence it means the result of November’s election would never  Robert Schott, a Republican, plans to vote in person 
    DENVER (AP) — A majority of President Donald Trump’s supporters plan to cast their ballot on Election Day, while about half of Joe Biden’s backers plan to vote by mail, a sign of a growing partisan divide over how best to conduct elections in the United States.”

    “Overall, 39% of registered voters say they will vote by mail, well above the 21% who say they normally do so, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The rise is skewed toward backers of the former vice president, 53% of whom plan to vote by mail. Fifty-seven percent of Trump’s supporters say they’ll vote in person on Nov. 3.”

    “Fifty-four percent of voters say they will vote before polls open on Election Day. In 2016, roughly 42% of voters did so.”

    “Trump for months has denigrated mail voting, and Democrats have expressed concern about postal delays that could keep such ballots from being counted. The poll finds ebbing enthusiasm for mail voting: Only 28% of Americans say they would favor their state holding elections exclusively by mail, down from the 40% who said so in April as the coronavirus pandemic was first spreading in the U.S. and before Trump launched his anti-mail campaign.” -AP News

    CNN says:
    “More than 91.6 million Americans have voted so far, as a majority of states are reporting record early voting turnout in the 2020 election. While it’s too soon to know how that record turnout will translate to Election Day, the massive early voting numbers suggest a high level of enthusiasm for voting this year, despite the obstacles of a pandemic.
    These votes represent about 43% of registered voters nationwide, according to a survey of election officials in all 50 states and Washington, DC, by CNN, Edison Research, and Catalist.
    Sixteen states have already seen more than half of their registered voters cast ballots ahead of November 3.
    Nationwide, the more than 91.6 million ballots already cast represent about 67% of the more than 136.5 million ballots cast in the 2016 presidential election.” -CNN

    If the poll that claimed that 54% of voters planned to vote before election day was accurate, what accounted for the huge increase in early voting where 67% of ballots have already been cast? 

    Whether voters changed their minds and voted early, voters lied to pollsters, voters mailed in ballots and intend to attempt to vote in person but will not be able to because people can only vote once, massive ballot fraud has already occurred, or the polls were terribly inaccurate is uncertain.  Any of those things, or any combination of those things could be true.

    Andrea Iravani

  37. You need to peddle that MSM rhetoric where people actually fall for it. You lost me at George Will is conservative.

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