Trump Everlasting

I’m glad I’m not a journalist. I don’t think I could handle the whiplash of the ever-changing story line, the way a grand historical narrative gets revised, day to day, the way it seems to change, week to week, often on a dime. Or a $1.5 trillion tax cut.

In my Guardian digest this week, I deal with the media’s memory, taxes, the state of the GOP, judges, sexual harassment, and leave you at the end with my assessment of where we are.

Here’s a preview:

Last week, after the victory of Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama’s senatorial election, the media began reporting that the Republican party was facing an epic disaster. Citing insider talk of a “political earthquake” and a “party in turmoil,” the Washington Post anticipated a Democratic takeover of Congress in 2018.

A year that began with dark premonitions of a fascist seizure of power, an autocrat’s total control of the state, seemed ready to end with sunny predictions of the Republican party losing one branch of the federal government to the opposition and a stalled right-wing agenda in Congress.

One week later, after the victory of the Republican tax cut, the media has changed its tune.

Like Trump, George W Bush lost the popular vote in 2000. Unlike Trump, Bush only won the Electoral College because of the US supreme court. Despite that added spice of illegitimacy, despite having smaller majorities in both houses of Congress (razor-thin in the Senate, almost razor-thin in the House), Bush still managed to push through massive tax cuts – and, unlike Trump, got 40 Democrats to vote with him. A full six months sooner than Trump did.

Cutting taxes is in the Republican DNA. Even an idiot can do it.

So that’s how we end 2017: on the one hand, a declining movement of the right, increasingly unpopular with the voters, trying to claim a long-term hold on power through the least democratic branch of government.

On the other hand, a rising movement of women and the left, trying to topple ancient and middle-aged injustices, one nasty man at a time.

You can continue reading here.


  1. mark December 23, 2017 at 10:05 am | #

    What has Trump achieved that Jeb! couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t?

  2. Gian December 23, 2017 at 2:41 pm | #

    I read your piece in The Guardian and thought it was quite good. I think that the damage done by this administration will definitely outlast Trump’s tenure in office, but I think the powers that be are demonstrating the kind of high-handedness and inflexibility that dooms governments to overthrow or collapse.

    Of course it seems that they are well poised to devise a system in which only the tiniest elite have a meaningful say in any decision of consequence. But creating such a system and maintaining it indefinitely are two very different things. A lot of the methods which have been employed in the recent past to mask the declining fortunes of the average working American are no longer as effective as they once were, or even effective at all. I think this kind of overreach, unwillingness to make even the most minute compromise and the lessening ability to spin blatant favoritism of the ultra-rich as being beneficial to America generally will ultimately do them in.

    As I believe you and other commenters have discussed in past posts, however, this loss of control over the narrative will only lead to positive changes if there is a solid intellectual framework for countering neo-liberal dogma which has been internalized by so many people & institutions in this country since the last decades of the 20th century. I am certainly worried about the potential that what comes next will be worst still, but I am also somewhat encouraged by the fact that neo-liberalism is being actively dissected and challenged by a growing number of voices. I also consider the relatively stiff public opposition to the tax overhaul, and the increasing tendency of those who self-identify as ‘progressive’ to challenge conservatism on their own terms (rather than confining themselves to an intellectual box of the right’s creation) to be good signs.

    There are many causes for concern, but I think the kind of thought that has prevailed in American politics for so long is being refuted more strongly now than it has for many years. Though, on the other hand, its most diehard adherents are as recalcitrant and extreme as ever!

  3. Chris Morlock December 23, 2017 at 6:01 pm | #

    Not 100% sure how Trumpism comes to an end when it’s achieved most of it’s goals in the first year and the market is so high and unemployment seemingly lower. The reaction of the Left in general is to focus on the demmonization of the policies without actually offering much of an alternative.

    Attacking immigration policy on moral grounds is fine, but the early indications is that at least half of illegal immigration has ceased. Rail at the market being so high from all kinds of different angles, but it is high and it is trickling down a small bit of wealth. Unemployment is lower. Maybe none of these things should be given to Trump in terms of policies or actions, but it is happening.

    Democrats failed to do anything this year. Most of the early court decisions against Trump have been overturned. The Russian narrative has been a disaster, and they have all but moved on from collusion. They can’t take credit for saving Obamacare either, since that honor fell to the un-freedom caucus. They failed to stop tax cuts, and they failed to prevent Trump from nominating a record number of justices to the Fed courts.

    The worst of the Dems this year has been the complete failure to excise the status quo, namely Pelosi / Schumer, etc. and move the party away from corporate funding and finally admit Clintonism was the true end of the working class in the USA.

    It looks pretty bad to me.

  4. jonnybutter December 23, 2017 at 9:52 pm | #

    I have no interest in being fair to Mike Allen or a ‘gushing’ NYT, but to be fair to how it sometimes feels to civilians to live through this: every win feels big and every loss also feels big – like teetering on top of a sharp, slippery fulcrum. Or like a ridiculous hollywood fight scene. This was a particularly repulsive tax bill.

    Seems like two who know the GOP is weak and spent are Corey Robin and the GOP itself which is why they’re ‘quietly’ (as they say) ramming through judges. Grotesquely fascinating that the reactionary mind – aka the human mind – can maintain an utterly disciplined, unshakable yearning for entropy, death. Sounds fascist to me.

    Also, Trump may not have total control of the state, but he has a lot of brute power, e.g. the loyalty of many paramilitary types – various police, ICE, et. al. And speaking of journalism, I think the J20 trials in DC is quite underreported. Those federal charges are an outrageous attempt at authoritarian power grab – Sessions straining stool on the bill of rights (but it’s the thought that counts).

    But there is also a real resistance, as Corey notes. It’s going to need to do a lot of sweeping-aside.

    • DAVID COLLEDGE December 26, 2017 at 5:47 pm | #

      And after you´ve done the sweeping aside, what will you do with the “human mind”?

      • jonnybutter December 27, 2017 at 10:33 am | #

        Note the verb ‘can’. It doesn’t mean ‘must’.

        • David Colledge Campbell December 27, 2017 at 10:44 am | #

          Thank you for pointing that out. Quite a relief, really. I think we are all worth a little more than the cutting off of a head of cabbage or the swallowing of a mouthful of water, don’t you?

          • jonnybutter December 27, 2017 at 2:08 pm | #

            You misunderstand my original comment. What did I mean needs to be ‘swept aside’? The answer is: lapsed and otherwise inadequate ideas, and lapsed or otherwise inadequate Democratic party pols, grifters consultants, and officials. Very sinister stuff.

            You should read Prof. Robin’s book. You’ll find that it is a seriously humanistic piece of work. What it does is the opposite of ‘othering’.

          • DAVID COLLEDGE December 27, 2017 at 2:51 pm | #

            Thank you for taking the trouble to disabuse me, for I agree entirely with your last post. The reason I follow Prof. Robin´s blog is that I have his book “Fear: The History of a Political Idea”, and liked it very much – that was some years ago now. I have been toying with ordering his new book from Amazon (I live in South America), so you may have pushed me towards it.

          • jonnybutter December 27, 2017 at 3:27 pm | #

            Good! The new version is really good

  5. jonnybutter December 24, 2017 at 6:45 pm | #

    Retiring Flake:

    “When you look at some of the audiences cheering for Republicans, sometimes, you look out there and you say, ‘those are the spasms of a dying party,’ ” Flake said on ABC’s “This Week.”

  6. Edward December 24, 2017 at 9:02 pm | #

    “Government regulations of advertising? Terrible violation of free speech. ”

    Seriously? Until last year, when Obama created an exception, the government was barred from using propaganda in the United States. For this reason Voice of America cannot be broadcast here. Is government propaganda bad and corporate propaganda good, or is there a contradiction?

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