Response to Yoni Appelbaum’s article in the Atlantic, How America Ends

At its start, this article Yoni Appelbaum’s How America Ends bends over backwards to create a false equivalency between right and left extremists in terms of the use of violence. (If it weren’t for James Hodgkinson, they’d be hard pressed to name an incident on the left that is in the public consciousness).

Nor is there a Dem POTUS saying things like this: “’Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice, and rage,’ Trump told the crowd at his reelection kickoff event in Orlando in June. ‘They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.’”

“’Partisans are willing to explicitly state that members of the opposing party are like animals, that they lack essential human traits,’ the researchers found. The president encourages and exploits such fears. This is a dangerous line to cross. As the researchers write, ‘Dehumanization may loosen the moral restraints that would normally prevent us from harming another human being.’”

As it progresses, it cannot help but move towards framing the problem of potential violence as coming almost exclusively from the Right. (I would suggest that the “some of worst excesses of the 20th century … carried out by totalitarian left-wing regimes” had more to do with the lack of democratic tradition in the nations they were carried out in, and economic and physical attacks on those nations by Capitalist powers, than anything inherent in Socialism.) The article poses a motivation that is only an explanation for the desperation and rage from that direction:
“… the biggest driver might be demographic change. The United States is undergoing a transition perhaps no rich and stable democracy has ever experienced: Its historically dominant group is on its way to becoming a political minority—and its minority groups are asserting their co-equal rights and interests.”
“When a group that has traditionally exercised power comes to believe that its eclipse is inevitable, and that the destruction of all it holds dear will follow, it will fight to preserve what it has—whatever the cost.”

“… the transition is already producing a sharp political backlash, exploited and exacerbated by the president. In 2016, white working-class voters who said that discrimination against whites is a serious problem, or who said they felt like strangers in their own country, were almost twice as likely to vote for Trump as those who did not. Two-thirds of Trump voters agreed that ‘the 2016 election represented the last chance to stop America’s decline.’ In Trump, they’d found a defender.”

I do think that Texiera WAS wrong, not just premature. The demographic change forced by the Left will be primarily driven not by identity but by age. Not due to some magic generational pattern repeating itself, but by the increasing exploitation of the rising generations entering the working class. This does not negate the fact that much of the enmity the Right currently whips up in its voting base is indeed identity-based. But the neglect of a conservative ideology in favor of promoting fear and advancing wedge issues will simply compound their inability to win younger voters. “A conservatism defined by identity reduces the complex calculus of politics to a simple arithmetic question—and at some point, the numbers no longer add up.”

More and more US workers no longer can afford to buy their own production (or that of China, or automation, or even afford a place to live) and so the Capitalists home in on reclaiming wealth lost to the working class thanks to the New Deal, austerity to keep us from snagging anything more, and privatizing revenue streams extracted by the state through taxation as the way to keep filling their coffers. With home ownership having declined every year of the Obama administration, Social Security and Medicare demonized by the GOP as “entitlements,” and more than 50% of discretionary federal spending going to the military industrial complex and other economic sectors where corporate welfare is rife (as well as the increasing privatization of education, incarceration, Medicare and Medicaid, etc.) this process is already well under way.

And as far as needing a center-right to “wall off more extreme right-wing movements, shutting out the radicals who attacked the political system itself” to save democracy, have no fear. The GOP ceased fulfilling that function long before Trump’s rise. The center-right is hale and hearty in the U.S., they just call themselves Democrats and comprise the corporate/ neoliberal wing of the party. I’ve been suggesting for years whenever they spout failed GOP economics that they go and fight for human rights for all in the Republican Party where they belong.

In the end, the article veers off course toward the belief that Trump’s excesses will bring him down. Really? The rise in those supporting more immigration from “less than a quarter” to “more than a third,” does not strike me as “spectacular.” It also conflates Capitalism and democracy, the standard lie of American exceptionalis, mis-attributing the cause of a series of 20th century events to identity fears (with no mention of anti-Labor and anti-Socialist violence). The basic problem continues to get worse, average Americans face a harder time making ends meet. What will bring Trump down is presenting a vision of America that includes economic fairness and social justice for all, and in which they want to live. We face not the crumbling of America’s democratic institutions (“the American system”), but the excesses and impending collapse of the monopolized, corporatized Capitalist system that has accompanied them for the last 150 years.

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