By Chris Hedges

March 17, 2024  ScheerPost


Joe Biden and the Democratic Party made a Trump presidency possible once and look set to make it possible again. If Trump returns to power, it will not be due to Russian interferencevoter suppression or because the working class is filled with irredeemable bigots and racists. It will be because the Democrats are as indifferent to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza as they are to immigrants, the poor in our impoverished inner cities, those driven into bankruptcy by medical bills, credit card debt and usurious mortgages, those discarded, especially in rural America, by waves of mass layoffs and workers, trapped in the serfdom of the gig economy, with its job instability and suppressed wages.

Biden and the Democrats, along with the Republican Party, gutted antitrust enforcement and deregulated banks and corporations, allowing them to cannibalize the nation. They backed legislation in 1982 to green light the manipulation of stocks through massive buybacks and the “harvesting” of companies by private equity firms that resulted in mass layoffs. They pushed through onerous trade deals, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, the greatest betrayal of the working class since the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which crippled union organizing. They were full partners in the construction of the vast archipelagos of the U.S. prison system — the largest in the world — and the militarization of police to turn them into internal armies of occupation. They fund the endless wars.

The Democrats dutifully serve their corporate masters, without whom most of them, including Biden, would not have a political career. This is why Biden and the Democrats will not turn on those who are destroying our economy and extinguishing our democracy. The slops in the trough would dry up. Advocating reforms jeopardize their fiefdoms of privilege and power. They fancy themselves as “captains of the ship,” labor journalist Hamilton Nolan writes, but they are “actually the wood-eating shipworms who are consuming the thing from inside until it sinks.”

Authoritarianism is nurtured in the fertile soil of a bankrupt liberalism. This was true in Weimar Germany. It was true in the former Yugoslavia. And it is true now. The Democrats had four years to institute New Deal reforms. They failed. Now we will pay.

A second Trump term will not be like the first. It will be about vengeance. Vengeance against the institutions that targeted Trump – the press, the courts, the intelligence agencies, disloyal Republicans, artists, intellectuals, the federal bureaucracy and the Democratic Party.

Our imperial presidency, if Donald Trump returns to power, will shift effortlessly into a dictatorship that emasculates the legislative and judicial branches.  The plan to snuff out our anemic democracy is methodically laid out in the 887-page plan amassed by the Heritage Foundation called “Mandate for Leadership.”

The Heritage Foundation spent $22 million to draw up policy proposals, hiring lists and transition plans in Project 2025 to save Trump from the rudderless chaos that plagued his first term. Trump blames “snakes,” “traitors,” and the “Deep State” for undermining his first administration.

Our industrious American fascists, clutching the Christian cross and waving the flag, will begin work on day one to purge federal agencies of “snakes” and “traitors,” promulgate “Biblical” values, cut taxes for the billionaire class, abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, stack the courts and federal agencies with ideologues and strip workers of the few rights and protections they have left. War and internal security, including the wholesale surveillance of the public, will remain the main business of the state. The other functions of the state, especially those that focus on social services, including Social Security and protection of the vulnerable, will wither away.

Unfettered and unregulated capitalism, which has no self-imposed limits, turns everything into a commodity, from human beings to the natural world, which it exploits, until exhaustion or collapse. It first creates a mafia economy, as Karl Polanyi writes, and then a mafia government. Political theorists, including Aristotle, Karl Marx and Sheldon Wolin, warn that when oligarchs seize power, the only options left are tyranny or revolution.

The Democrats know the working class has abandoned them. And they know why. Democratic Party pollster Mike Lux writes:

[C]ontrary to many pundits’ assumptions, economic issues are driving the problems of Democrats in non-metro working class counties far more than the culture war…[T]hese voters wouldn’t care all that much about cultural difference and the woke thing if they thought Democrats gave more of a damn about economic challenges they face deeply and daily…The voters we need to win in these counties are not inherently right-wing on social issues.

But the Democrats will not alienate the corporations and billionaires who keep them in office. They have opted instead for two self-defeating tactics: lies and fear.

The Democrats express a faux concern for workers who are victimized by mass layoffs while at the same time courting the corporate leaders who orchestrate these layoffs with lavish government contracts. The same hypocrisy sees them express concern for civilians being slaughtered in Gaza while funneling billions of dollars in weapons to Israel and vetoing ceasefire resolutions at the U.N. to sustain the genocide.

Les Leopold in his book Wall Street’s War on Workers, filled with exhaustive polling and data, illustrates that economic dislocation and despair is the engine behind an enraged working class, not racism and bigotry.

He writes about the decision by Siemens to close its plant in Olean, New York with 530 decent paying union jobs. While Democrats bemoaned the closure, they refused to deny federal contracts to Siemans to protect the workers at the plant.

Biden then invited Siemens’ USA CEO Barbara Humpton to the White House signing of the 2021 infrastructure bill. The photo of the signing shows Humpton standing in the front row along with New York Senator Chuck Schumer.

Mingo County in the early 20th century was the epicenter of an armed clash between the United Mine Workers and the coal barons, with their hired gun thugs from the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency. The gun thugs evicted striking workers in 1912 from company housing and beat up and shot union members until the state militia occupied the coal towns and broke the strike. The federal siege was not lifted until 1933 by the Roosevelt administration. The union, which had been banned, was legalized.

“Mingo County didn’t forget, at least not for a long time,” Leopold writes. “As late as 1996, with more than 3,200 coal miners still at work, Mingo County gave Bill Clinton a whopping 69.7 percent of its vote. But every four years thereafter, support for the Democrats declined, going down and down, and down some more. By 2020, Joe Biden received only 13.9 percent of the vote in Mingo, a brutal downturn in a county that once saw the Democratic Party as its savior.”

The 3,300 Mingo County coal mining jobs by 2020 had fallen to 300, the largest loss of coal jobs in any county in the country.

The lies of Democratic politicians did far more damage to working men and women than any of the lies spewed by Trump.

There have been at least 30 million mass layoffs since 1996 when the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking them, according to the Labor Institute. The reigning oligarchs, not content with mass layoffs and reducing the unionized workforce in the private sector to a paltry 6 percent, have filed legal papers to shut down the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that enforces labor rights. Elon Musk’s SpaceX as well as Amazon, Starbucks and Trader Joe’s targeted the NLRB – already stripped of most of its power to levy fines and force corporate compliance – after it accused Amazon, Starbucks and Trader Joe’s of breaking the law by blocking union organizing. The NLRB accused SpaceX of illegally firing eight workers for criticizing Musk. SpaceX, Amazon, Starbucks and Trader Joes are seeking to get the federal courts to overturn the 89-year-old National Labor Relations Act to prevent judges from hearing cases brought against corporations for violating labor laws.

Fear — fear of the return of Trump and Christian fascism — is the only card the Democrats have left to play. This will work in urban, liberal enclaves where college educated technocrats, part of the globalized knowledge economy, are busy scolding and demonizing the working class for their ingratitude.

The Democrats have foolishly written off these “deplorables” as a lost political cause. This precariat, the mantra goes, is victimized not by a predatory system built to enrich the billionaire class, but by their ignorance and individual failures. Dismissing the disenfranchised absolves the Democrats from advocating the legislation to protect and create decent-paying jobs.

Fear has no hold in deindustrialized urban landscapes and the neglected wastelands of rural America, where families struggle without sustainable work, an opioid crisis, food deserts, personal bankruptcies, evictions, crippling debt and profound despair.

They want what Trump wants. Vengeance. Who can blame them?


-Graphic: “Onward Christian Fascism” by Mr. Fish