Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Republican Party may be dead but Trumpism is still very much alive.

 "I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning. There's never been anything like it." -- Donald Trump

Following the failed impeachment vote, it's should now be clear to all that the Republican Party, or what has become the Trump Party, is bankrupt, if not dead. But in its place is an emergent white supremacist, neo-fascist movement here and in Europe. Trump is out of the White House but is still very much in as the movement's benefactor, figurehead leader, and international symbol of resistance to democracy.  

Roughly 70% of Republicans continue to support Trump strongly, polls suggest. A similar share says they would be less likely to vote for a Republican senator who voted to convict Trump. 

He and his one-time fascist sidekick, "Alt-Right" founder Steve Bannon set out to destroy the official Republican Party and reconstruct a global neo-fascist network soon after the election in 2016. It's obvious now that they have succeeded and Bannon has been rewarded with Trump's only pardon of any consequence for his efforts.

AP reports:

In nearly half of the more than 200 federal cases stemming from the attack on the Capitol, authorities have cited evidence that an insurrectionist appeared to be inspired by conspiracy theories or extremist ideologies, according to an Associated Press review of court records.

The FBI has linked at least 40 defendants to extremist groups or movements, including at least 16 members or associates of the neo-fascist Proud Boys and at least five connected to the anti-government Oath Keepers. FBI agents also explicitly tied at least 10 defendants to QAnon, a pro-Trump conspiracy theory that has grown beyond its fringe origins to penetrate mainstream Republican politics.

Parler posts containing the word “revolution” grew by five times as much as the overall rate of message traffic after the election, the analysis found.

And by "revolution", they don't mean a democratic or socialist one, but rather a fascist putsch reminiscent of Germany in the 1930s that embraces many of the old fascist symbols and language about white identity and the threat of "replacement" by immigrants. 

The neo-fascist, white-supremacist wave has gained strength against the backdrop of the pandemic and a worldwide recession and a Trump administration that has gutted social reforms and driven millions into poverty while widening the racial/class wealth gap. The U.S. now has the highest level of income inequality among its post-industrialized peers.

While many of those arrested in the Capitol riot owned businesses or worked white-collar jobs, a large sector of declassed white youth, many out-of-work, out of school and facing bleak futures, have become potential recruits for groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. 

An apocryphal AP story this morning describes the growing despair among French youth. 

Nearly a quarter of French young people can’t find work — two-and-a-half times the national unemployment rate and one of the highest in the European Union’s 27 nations. Many university students now rely on food aid and several organizations have rallied to meet the need.

The pandemic has led to a surge in mental health complaints that authorities say are most acute in people without work, those in financial hardship, and young adults. 

The rise of neo-fascist movements and their apparent embrace offered by a majority of Republicans needs to be taken seriously. First and foremost this requires an immediate and massive injection of pandemic relief funds and vaccines, including more than a trillion dollars in funding to support safe school reopening, and setting the federal minimum wage at $15/hour. This must be done immediately, even without Republican support if necessary. 

Also, Trump and his co-conspirators, along with leaders of the neo-fascist and neo-confederate groups that attacked the Capitol on January 6th, need to face criminal and civil trials in state courts if necessary. This can be done without adding draconian new repressive laws or government agencies or infringe on the civil liberties of the rest of us. 

But this is just the beginning of a long struggle that will require some heavy discussions and difficult reassessments by left/progressive community and union groups about the direction of organizing efforts. 

Hopefully, more on this to come. 

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