Bogus “Russiagate” Story Finally Implodes


Maddow

The following piece was originally published in the Portland, Maine monthly, the West End News.

Robert Mueller’s long-awaited investigation is finally over and for Democrats it is like waking up to a stocking full of coal on Christmas Day. That is because the decidedly anti-climactic conclusion to “Russiagate” more or less exonerates Donald Trump.

(At least on the matter of “colluding” with Russia, anyway. I think there is ample evidence that Trump’s many efforts to block Mueller’s investigation constitute obstruction of justice.)

The “Russiagate” conspiracy theory has completely collapsed. Trump is not a Russian “stooge” (witting or unwitting), nor has he somehow been “compromised” by Vladimir Putin.

As Mueller’s report plainly states:

“The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

But then, the ludicrous premise behind Russiagate — that Trump is a Manchurian Candidate-style Russian agent, installed by the Kremlin through covert interference in the 2016 presidential election — was always more farfetched and convoluted than the mythology story arc of The X-Files.

Yet the U.S. media — including stalwart journalistic institutions like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and NPR — obsequiously and uncritically regurgitated the baseless lies and empty talking points that Russia “stole” the 2016 election on behalf of Trump. It is the same careless stenographic reporting these same media outlets used to sell the American public the Iraq War 16 years ago.

Sadly, the press has learned nothing.

For two years now Russiagate and its complicated array of characters and former White House cabinet members has dominated the print and television news. Night after night, talking heads on CNN and MSNBC breathlessly assured us that Mueller “knows everything” — that he has “the goods” on Trump’s illegal, unconstitutional activities that will bring about his downfall. Mueller was going to save us from this rogue, brazenly criminal president.

But it was always silly for the left to invest its hopes in the likes of Mueller (a Republican and former director of the FBI), James Comey, John Brennan, and James Clapper. The CIA, FBI, NSA, and other affiliated alphabet-soup government agencies are no friends of the left — and historically they never have been. They are agents of the state. They are professional liars who do everything they can to mislead the public, subvert democracy, and undermine and destroy activists, socialists, communists, and social justice organizations.

Could William Barr, the attorney general, simply have misrepresented Muller’s findings…? It is quite possible.

But, as Branko Marcetic observes in Jacobin:

“[T]hose still holding on to a flicker of hope that Mueller will emerge on horseback, thick stack of papers in hand, with details and conclusions running counter to Barr’s summary need to get a grip. If there was something there, it would have leaked a long time ago.”

From the beginning, the chief allegations of Russiagate have consisted of suspicion, speculation, and classified information from anonymous sources — a practice journalist Glenn Greenwald, one of the most outspoken Russiagate critics on the left, considers “shoddy,” and “unreliable.”

Those on the left like Greenwald who have been skeptical of the Russian narrative from the beginning have been marginalized by the corporate media, dismissed as “fringe radicals,” and often viciously smeared and attacked as Russian apologists. The furious demonization and silencing of serious journalists like Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, and Aaron Matte eerily mirrors that of the few voices opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq back in 2002-2003.

And the risks this time around are no less significant.

The Russiagate story has now intensified and fiercely ratcheted up tensions between the world’s two largest nuclear-armed countries. It is as if we have been thrust back into the Cold War. The-Green-New-Deal-hating liberal elite, Jonathan Chait even published an absurd story in New York Magazine claiming that Trump has been an undercover Russian agent since 1987.

The irony of Russiagate is twofold:

For all the talk of Trump’s alleged coziness with Vladimir Putin, he has actually been far more hawkish and antagonistic toward Russia than Barack Obama. Back in February, Trump abruptly withdrew the U.S. from the longstanding Russian nuclear arms pact known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF). He has renewed sanctions on Russia. And Trump has sought military intervention in two of Russia’s key allies — Syria and Venezuela.

The other irony is Russiagate has diverted attention away from the actual culprit of election interference in 2016: The Electoral College.

The proponents of Russiagate are correct in one respect: The presidential election was stolen. Hillary Clinton won 3 million more votes than Trump, yet thanks to the slave-owning Founding Fathers’ thoroughly undemocratic Electoral College, Trump, who never intended or probably even desired to be president, is sitting in the Oval Office. This marks the second time in the last 16 years that the candidate who won the popular vote nonetheless still lost the election.

The Electoral College — along with the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the rest of the bourgeois capitalist state — should be abolished. Imagine if the left had spent the last two years organizing toward that end, rather than tilting at Russian windmills.

And therein lies the great tragedy of this whole pathetic, epic media fail. Leftists initially responded to Trump’s unfathomable election with massive marches throughout major cities, local peace vigils, protests, and the spontaneous airport occupations against Trump’s racist Muslim travel ban. The Women’s March on Washington marked Trump’s first day in the White House. It was the single largest day of protest in U.S. history.

As anyone who participated in a march, rally, protest, or discussion group since Nov. 9, 2016 can attest, these events were simultaneously marked by a sense of fear, disgust, and outrage, but also a renewed spirit of radical politics and revolutionary action. It really did feel at the time like Trump’s election might be capitalism’s breaking point. Working-class people were angry and mobilized in a way they had not been in years.

But Russiagate (and, to a lesser extent, the 2018 midterm elections) sucked all of the air out of the room. The liberal “Resistance” has all but atrophied into complacency with a false sense that Mueller, the Democrats, impeachment, Michael Cohen or Joe Biden will save us from the Orange Menace.

The last major anti-Trump rally was against Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions shortly after last fall’s midterm elections. That’s right: Liberals were rallying in support of a racist, white nationalist Trump-appointee. I will let that sink in for readers for a moment…

Meanwhile, the International Socialist Organization (ISO), a revolutionary group I have been a dues-paying member of for the last five years, has been rocked by recent disclosures of a sexual assault incident from 2013 that the organization’s national leaders actively worked to cover up. The future of the ISO is now very much in question.

Worst of all, the left may have inadvertently handed Trump a major boost to his re-election bid. Mueller has effectively proven Trump right (at least, to an extent). Trump can now convincingly make the case that there was “no collusion, no obstruction,” on his part.

Russiagate only adds credibility to his constant attacks on the “fake news,” and “dishonest media,” and his claims that they are only interested in carrying out a zealous “witch hunt” against him. Indeed, working-class Americans, who do not see their own lives or struggles reflected in the pages of the New York Times or on CNN, have every reason to be distrustful of the corporate-owned news media. Russiagate merely gives them one more.

Sadly, it does not appear the media is ready to let go of the Russiagate narrative anytime soon — even as it has crumbled to pieces right in front of them. The press has merely moved the proverbial goal-posts, now calling for the report’s complete publication, or casting doubt on Barr’s summary. Rather than admit they were wrong, figures like Rachel Maddow have simply doubled-down on this absurd conspiracy theory.

As Matt Taibbi writes in a recent piece for Rolling Stone:

Russiagate became a convenient replacement explanation absolving an incompetent political establishment for its complicity in what happened in 2016, and not just the failure to see it coming. Because of the immediate arrival of the collusion theory, neither Wolf Blitzer nor any politician ever had to look into the camera and say, “I guess people hated us so much they were willing to vote for Donald Trump.”



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Should the Left Care About “Russiagate”?

Trump-Russia-Cast-Characters

If the left is serious about resisting not just Donald Trump, but the entire racist, misogynist, nativist, capitalist system that spawned him in the first place, then we must move beyond the narrow, unsubstantiated, and increasingly hysterical confines of “Russiagate.”

I am referring here, of course, to the corporate media’s ceaseless (and highly dubious) allegations that the Russian government covertly meddled in the 2016 presidential election in a coordinated effort to sway the election to Trump.

The “Russiagate” drama continued to unfold over the weekend, when special prosecutor and former FBI director, Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian officials on charges of “interfering” with the presidential election — with, like, Facebook ads, or something …

Meanwhile, the U.S. intelligence agencies primarily responsible for perpetuating the “Russiagate” claims — the CIA, FBI, and NSA — are warning that Russia is already targeting state races in November’s midterm elections.

What should socialists make of “Russiagate”? Could the scandal be the key to removing Trump from office? Or is it merely the left’s version of “Benghazi”?

For the record, there is still no substantive, compelling evidence that Russia “stole” the election for Trump. Nor, for that matter, has it been determined that the Russian government or an agent acting within Russia is responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) private email account (the so-called “Podesta emails”), and passing the contents on to WikiLeaks, which made the emails public.

Those emails contained incriminating accounts of the behind-the-scenes dealings between the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. They outlined plans to undermine Clinton’s primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, by painting him as sexist (“Bernie Bros”), unrealistic, and even proposed using anti-Semitic attacks against him. The DNC emails provide further evidence that the Democratic primary campaign was rigged against Sanders.

The U.S. intelligence community’s Russia allegations consist entirely of speculation, suspicion, and classified information from anonymous sources — a practice journalist, Glenn Greenwald, considers “shoddy” and “unreliable.”

It is worth taking a closer look at the “deep state” sources behind these accusations.

The CIA, in particular, is the same institution that used lies and fabricated intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent stockpile of “weapons of mass destruction” to sell us the Iraq war, in 2003. The National Security Agency (NSA), likewise, continues its widespread, “Big Brother”-style surveillance of American citizens. Readers may recall then-NSA director, James Clapper, blatantly lied to a Senate intelligence committee about the program’s existence, shortly after Edward Snowden exposed the warrantless surveillance program, in 2013.

And the FBI has a long, sordid history of spying on, infiltrating, harassing, beating, and blackmailing anti-war protesters, socialists, anti-racists, and other left-wing activists. The organization kept extensive files on leaders of the Black Panther Party, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Howard Zinn. The FBI even went so far as to attempt to blackmail King into committing suicide.

Indeed, given the FBI’s history of antagonism toward the left, liberals’ newfound support for the organization according to recent polls, is not only bizarre, but unnerving. Liberals and conservatives have basically swapped places in their views on the FBI, CIA, and other intelligence agencies, with a majority of liberals, for the first time in decades, viewing them more favorably than conservatives.

These state institutions are comprised of “professional, systematic liars,” as Greenwald wrote in The Intercept, shortly after the CIA released its initial claims of Russian hacking. “[T]hey lie constantly, by design, and with great skill, and have for many decades …”

But the lack of evidence aside, the CIA’s claims of Russian hacking are also deeply hypocritical. The United States, which has done more to undermine, subvert, sabotage, ignore or violently overturn the election results of democratic nations throughout the world when their citizens voted the “wrong way,” is shocked — shocked! — at the remote possibility that another country may have undermined the “sanctity” of our own vaunted “democracy.”

Noam Chomsky calls this double-standard approach to international law the reigning “single standard,” which views international law and treatises as “private contractual rules,” which the U.S. is “free to apply or disregard as it sees fit.”

Karma, as my brother likes to say, is a bitch.

Perhaps most importantly, “Russiagate” obscures the fact that the presidential election was stolen — not by the Russians, but by the slave-owning Founding Fathers’ archaic Electoral College.

Hillary Clinton received three million more votes than Trump. Yet, for the second time in the last 16 years, the democracy-blunting Electoral College allowed the loser to serve as president. This tangible, objective fact of Trump’s illegitimacy — not some farfetched notion of Trump as a real-life “Manchurian Candidate” — should be our starting point when debating with leftists who fully buy into the Russia narrative.

In the absence of convincing evidence, “Russiagate” comes off as yet another desperate, pathetic attempt by the Democratic Party to blame anyone and everyone for its electoral loss. Anyone that is except for, you know … themselves.

To wit, the Democrats’ rogue’s gallery of “People Responsible for Hillary Clinton’s Loss” includes Jill Stein, James Comey, Susan Sarandon, Facebook, WikiLeaks, “fake news,” Bernie Sanders, “Bernie Bros,” Julian Assange, sexism, the media, and the racist, ignorant, “deplorable” voters themselves. Now we can add Russian hackers to the list.

The truth is the Democratic Party will never be a vehicle for working-class struggle. Leftists’ attempts to “take over” or “take back” the Democratic Party are, as history has demonstrated time and again, a doomed endeavor. Workers need their own party independent of the Wall Street-captured Democrats.

Don’t get me wrong: I want to see the Cheetos-skinned, Tweeter-in-Chief defenestrated from office just as much as anyone. (Though I am frankly unsure how the appointment of Mike Pence to the presidency would necessarily constitute an improvement…)

It is quite likely Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have shady business deals with the Russians which they simply do not want to come to light. And it is clear Trump’s sons attempted to meet with Russian officials during the campaign in an effort to dig up dirt on Clinton.

But it seems unlikely the “scandal” extends much beyond that. Even Fire and Fury author, Michael Wolff, calls the notion of the tragically inept Trump campaign colluding with Russia (or really, anybody, for that matter) “implausible if not farcical.”

In sum, “Russiagate” is not a viable path to defeating both Trump and Trumpism. Indeed, the longer the left remains myopically mired in this 21st century Red Scare, the greater the danger that it further emboldens Trump’s elite minority of supporters, thus ensuring he is re-elected in 2020.

Editor’s note: Red Flag does not support or endorse any WordPress-sponsored advertisements that may appear on readers’ screens. This is another reason why workers, including writers, need to own the means of production–or in this case, the Internet.

If you like this essay feel free to share it widely (Facebook, Twitter, all that stuff…). Adam Marletta can be reached at adamd.marletta@gmail.com.

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Confessions of a Bourgeois Drama Queen

*** BESTPIX *** Hillary Clinton Makes A Statement After Loss In Presidential Election

Inside Hillary Clinton’s new book, “What Happened”.

As the title suggests, Hillary Clinton’s new memoir/post-election autopsy purports to tell, What Happened, i.e. how she lost the 2016 presidential election to a sexist, racist, xenophobic, thoroughly unqualified ignoramus, despite having outspent him two-to-one.

But, as Counterpunch’s Jeffrey St. Clair observes, one need not read any more than the book cover to “answer the question posed by the title: What Happened: Hillary Clinton.”

“Glutton for punishment,” St. Clair writes, “I took a masochistic dive into its dark pages, anyway.”

Indeed, throughout Clinton’s recent spate of interviews and promotional appearances, a frustrating contradiction has emerged. On the one hand, Clinton accepts “full responsibility” for her stunning, highly improbable loss last November. Yet, at the same time, Clinton continues to point to other figures—Bernie Sanders, James Comey, and the Russians, among them—that truly tipped the election to the Cheetos-skinned groper.

In other words, anybody looking for a genuine mea culpa or any sort of serious critical reflection from What Happened will be sorely disappointed. Clinton’s book is basically a 500 page version of the narrative the Democratic Party has been peddling since November. This narrative basically blames anyone and everyone for their loss–everyone, that is, except for, you know … the party itself.

The Democrats’ ever expanding rogue’s gallery of electoral “spoilers” includes the aforementioned Sanders and Comey, along with Jill Stein, Susan Sarandon, Vladimir Putin, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, Sanders’ recalcitrant supporters (a.k.a. “Bernie Bros”), Facebook, “fake news,” Russian hackers, the media, and something called the “white working-class.”

(Suspiciously absent from this list is, arguably, the real culprit: The slave-owning Founding Fathers’ Electoral College. Only in the self-appointed, “world’s greatest democracy,” can a presidential candidate win the popular vote–in Clinton’s case, by some 3 million votes–and still lose the election.)

As I have previously pointed out in this blog, there is to date zero concrete evidence that Russian meddling influenced the 2016 election in Donald Trump’s favor.

Additionally, Clinton’s bogus smears of Sanders for “staying in the race too long,” are equally hypocritical. During the 2008 Democratic primary—the first time Clinton sought the presidency—she remained in the race long after Barack Obama had all but sewn-up the nomination.

Sanders, on the other hand, proved a far more dutiful soldier for the Democratic Party—a party which he is, ostensibly, not even a member of. Not only did he promptly endorse Clinton prior to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and went on to participate in 37 campaign events for her–Sanders even dismissively shut down his more committed supporters, who booed him during his DNC endorsement of Clinton.

Of course, Sanders’ supporters should not have been surprised by his apparent about-face. He made clear, from the beginning of his campaign, his commitment to supporting his “friend” Clinton, should she emerge as the nominee. Some “political revolution.” Indeed, Sanders’ should serve as Exhibit A for why the left cannot “take over” the Democratic Party.

Yet, it seems the joke may be on Clinton, given that Sen. Sanders is currently the most popular politician in the country. Clinton, on the other hand, is viewed less favorably than Trump. Indeed, to garner lower approval ratings than arguably the least qualified, least professional, most outwardly misogynistic, racist, xenophobic president in modern history is really an accomplishment!

Throughout the book, Clinton proves herself to be utterly clueless as to why, precisely, she lost what should have been an imminently winnable election. She remains completely out-of-touch not just with working-class Americans and their daily lived struggles, but with the general political zeitgeist in the country.

It would probably be naïve to hope Clinton might—just might—engage in any sort of critical reflection on the policies Bill Clinton pursued while in the White House—policies which she has continued to champion in her own political career.

Hillary Clinton offers no accounting for the much discussed North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which became a key rallying point for Trump on the campaign trail.

Nor does she offer any regrets over her husband’s 1996 welfare reform bill which fulfilled his promise to “end welfare as we know it.” There was also the 1994 Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act—the largest crime bill in history. During the bill’s promotion, Hillary Clinton infamously referred to black youth as “super predators.” And she has little to say about the repeal of Glass-Steagall which directly paved the way for the 2008 economic crash.

All of these corporatist concessions undoubtedly played a role in the working-class backlash that contributed (at least in part; the true significance of the so-called “Rust Belt Revolution” has been largely overstated) to Clinton’s loss.

As Thomas Frank observes in his 2016 book, Listen, Liberal, Bill Clinton’s true presidential legacy may be that he—a Democrat—was more successful in passing some of the most egregious conservative legislation in decades, and rolling back the working-class gains of the New Deal, than any Republican president since Ronald Reagan.

“That a Democrat might be the one to pick apart the safety net is a violation of [the Democrats’] basic brand identity,” writes Frank, “but by the very structure of the [two-party] system it is extremely difficult to hold the party accountable for such a deed.

This, in turn, is why only a Democrat was able to do that job and get away with it. Only a Democrat was capable of getting bank deregulation passed; only a Democrat could have rammed NAFTA through Congress; and only a Democrat would be capable of privatizing Social Security, as George W. Bush found out in 2005. (Emphasis his.)

Frank continues:

… To judge by what he actually accomplished, Bill Clinton was not the lesser of two evils, as people on the left always say about Democrats at election time; he was the greater of the two. What he did as president was beyond the reach of even the most diabolical Republican. Only smiling Bill Clinton, well-known friend of working families, could commit such betrayals.

And this is to say nothing of Clinton’s hawkish approach to foreign policy, which she honed as secretary of state. This tenure included Clinton’s overseeing of the 2009 coup in Honduras, which deposed democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya. Clinton also helped orchestrate the violent overthrow and assassination of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, in 2011. She later boasted of Gaddafi’s death, “We came. We saw. He died.”

Again, Clinton offers no accounting for these acts or the fact that she and Obama expanded George W. Bush’s bogus “war on terror” tenfold.

But Clinton’s faults run deeper than her and husband’s legislative track-record. Her entire approach to politics—with her emphasis on policy specifics, bipartisan compromise, technocratic expertise and “triangulation”—are thoroughly out of sync with the current political moment. This is a moment in which voters are beginning to radicalize. They are demanding bold, radical changes to the very structures of American society–the sort of radical changes Sanders campaigned on. The fact that Sanders, a self-described socialist, received 13 million votes last year, speaks volumes to the growing opening for left politics.

The fact that Clinton’s brand of cautious, “centrist” governing is precisely what brought us to this point of extreme wealth inequality and social unrest seems entirely lost on her.

Clinton has always positioned herself as the adult in the room—the one with a “real plan” to Get Stuff Done. She has always been far more interested in the minutia of process, policy and the nitty-gritty details than the big picture, everyday concerns that ultimately drive voters to the polls. And this myopia, combined with Clinton’s own bourgeois lifestyle, prevented her from understanding the economic concerns that Sanders so successfully tapped into. Clinton frequently complained to staffers during the campaign that she did not understand “why voters are so angry.”

Throughout What Happened that populist anger continues to perplex her. She makes her outright disdain for Sanders and his socialist platform clear in her claim the Vermont senator was promising supporters free college, health care, “and a pony.”

“Bernie routinely portrayed me as a corrupt corporatist who couldn’t be trusted,” writes Clinton. “His clear implication was that because I accepted campaign donations from people on Wall Street—just as President Obama had done—I was ‘bought and paid for.’”

Clinton goes on to attack Sanders’ progressive proposals as “unrealistic” and lacking “political viability.”

She writes:

Bernie and I had a spirited contest of ideas, which was invigorating, but I nonetheless found campaigning against him to be profoundly frustrating. He didn’t seem to mind if his math didn’t add up or if his plans had no prayer of passing Congress and becoming law… No matter how bold and progressive my policy proposals were [sic] … Bernie would come out with something even bigger, loftier, and leftier, regardless of whether it was realistic or not. That left me to play the unenviable role of spoilsport schoolmarm, pointing out that there was no way Bernie could keep his promises or deliver real results.

“Was I doomed from the start?” Clinton wonders toward the end of her book.

Washington beltway reporters, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes seem to think so. Their behind-the-scenes expose, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign reveals a campaign team rife with constant in-fighting and staffers jockeying for positions.

The authors reveal how even in the early days of Clinton’s 2016 campaign, aides lamented that she could not articulate a compelling reason for launching a second bid for the White House. The team even toyed with openly admitting–and running on–what many Democratic Party officials accepted as obvious: It was “her turn” to be president.

But, during a real “change” election, in which voters were desperately looking for tangible improvements to their increasingly precarious living conditions, the rationale that it was simply Clinton’s “turn” hung hollow.

The real tragedy of the Democratic Party is not, as Frank contends, that it ceased being the “party of the people,” and shifted its focus to courting Wall Street donors and Silicon Valley. It is debatable whether the Democrats have ever truly been a party of the working class. No, the real tragedy is that the neoliberal policies of the Clintons and Obama paved the way for Trump and his noxious brand of pseudo-populism, in the first place.

Sadly, this lesson is nowhere to be found in Clinton’s book. She would rather blame the Russians.

Editor’s note: Red Flag does not support or endorse any WordPress-sponsored advertisements that may appear on readers’ screens. This is another reason why workers, including writers, need to own the means of production–or in this case, the Internet.

If you like this essay feel free to share it widely (Facebook, Twitter, all that stuff…). Adam Marletta can be reached at adamd.marletta@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Tilting at Russian Windmills

US_of_Russia_6-3-2017
A protester at the “March for Truth” rally on June 3, in Washington, D.C. Many of the marchers’ posters featured the Communist insignia.

Over four months into Donald Trump’s presidency, the anti-Trump resistance is in danger of becoming completely sidelined by “Russiagate,” James Comey’s rock star Senate Intelligence hearing, and anything else related to this 21st century resurgence of the Cold War. Russiagate, the (fake) news story that just won’t die, has sucked up all the oxygen in the room.

Yet, liberals have made the unsubstantiated claims—being promoted by the same “deep state” intelligence agencies that brought us the lies that launched the Iraq War—a centerpiece of the anti-Trump resistance.

Close to 1,000 protesters converged on Washington, D.C. and other major cities throughout the country on June 3 in the “March for Truth” rally—an event that, at times, appeared more like a left-wing version of a Tea Party demonstration. Many of the protesters’ signs featured the Communist hammer-and-sickle insignia with pictures of Trump. (These folks are apparently unaware that Russia joined the capitalist “free-market” decades ago.)

“Are you a Communist?” reporter, Max Blumenthal asks a smug-looking young man holding one such Communist-mocking sign, in a sardonic segment for The Real News Network.

“No!” the protester answers emphatically. “I’m not!”

“You’re not for full Communism?” Blumenthal asks.

“No, not at all. This [the poster] is more ironic than anything.”

… “So, Trump is a Communist then, is what you are saying?” Blumenthal deadpans.

“Yes,” the protester answers. “Exactly.”

As an actual Communist I must say I take great offense to the notion that Trump is anything remotely resembling a Communist—even if it the assertion is meant as an “ironic” joke.

Beyond the Red Scare redux, the clip highlights the fact that it is not just conservatives that fall for so-called “fake news.” Liberals and progressives are just as susceptible to state propaganda when it reaffirms what they already believe. The right has its “Benghazi,” and unceasing doubts as to Barack Obama’s citizenship; the left now has its “Russiagate.”

Blumenthal, speaking to Real News’s Arron Matte in a follow-up interview, said of the rally:

It was made up of mostly older liberals, the kind of people who watch ‘Rachel Maddow.’ … Most of her [show’s] content is dedicated to Russia and her ratings are through the roof. And these are the same kind of people that I would meet at anti-war rallies over ten years ago. The same kind of people that would go out and protest climate change and the denial of it. The same kind of people who would show up at Black Lives Matter rallies. And their energy is being channeled into a militaristic, neoconservative narrative…

Of course, it is not just Rachel Maddow and her MSNBC co-anchors that have stoked the flames of the Russiagate conspiracy theory. The Democratic Party has likewise embraced the narrative, seemingly all too happy to find someone—anyone!—to blame for Hillary Clinton’s stunning electoral loss last November other than herself.

Indeed, to date the Democrats’ rogues gallery of scapegoats includes Comey, Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders, Sanders’ supporters (a.k.a. “Bernie Bros”), sexism, internalized misogyny, Vladimir Putin, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, Susan Sarandon, millennials, “fake news,” Facebook, the media (despite the fact that the majority of corporate newspapers endorsed Clinton), and of course, the ignorant, racist, sexist, “deplorable” American voters, themselves. Now we can add Russian hackers to that list, as well.

Clinton herself has singled out Russia as the reason for her loss.

“I take responsibility for every decision I made,” the former secretary of state said during an interview at this year’s Code Conference, on May 31, “but that’s not why I lost. So I think it’s important that we learn the real lessons from this last campaign…”

But it is not at all clear that Clinton, the DNC, and the Democratic Party have learned anything—never mind the “real lessons”—from the 2016 election. In fact they seem either completely unwilling or incapable—take your pick—of engaging in the critical self-reflection necessary to avoid being relegated to the dustbin of political history.

No doubt Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and every last member of his swamp monster administration should be impeached. While the allegations that Russian hackers covertly influenced the outcome of the 2016 presidential election remain quite dubious, there is little doubt Trump is guilty of obstructing justice in his firing of Comey as director of the FBI.

But, barring some major revelation in the Russigate investigation, I fear pinning our hopes on shaky state propaganda is a fatal mistake for the left. Indeed, it is a surefire way to ensure Trump is re-elected in 2020.

And, even if the Democrats do regain control of Congress in the 2018 midterm election, it is not at all clear, based on the party’s track record, that they actually would take steps to impeach Trump. Leftists need only recall that Democrats ran on similar empty promises back in 2006. Then, like today, a thoroughly unpopular and discredited president—George W. Bush—occupied the White House, along with a Republican-majority in Congress.

But, no sooner did the Democrats re-take control of Congress in the sweeping 2006 midterm election—based on campaign promises to impeach Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for numerous impeachable offenses, and to end the unpopular and illegal Iraq War—than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promptly declared impeachment “off the table,” calling it a “distraction.”

And on the Iraq War, the Dems did a complete 180, voting for additional war-funding bills (‘cause “The Troops!”), rather than just cutting off the war’s funding in Congress, and bringing American service members home.

In other words, we have seen this movie before.

The Democrats’ entire “opposition” strategy against Trump is, as Socialist Worker’s Lance Selfa puts it in this month’s issue, “Keep Calm and Prepare Campaign Attack Ads.” It is for good reason that the Democrats were once referred to as “history’s second most enthusiastic capitalist party.” The left cannot afford to simply subsume itself into the graveyard of grassroots movements that is the Democratic Party.

Moreover, it is not enough for the left to merely be anti-Trump. We must dismantle the entire racist, misogynist, Islamophobic capitalist system that spawned Trump in the first place. In doing so, we must also put forth a compelling socialist alternative for organizing society—one rooted in Marxism that can speak to working-class Americans’ economic grievances, as well as their aspirations for social justice and equality.

This includes reaching out to working-class Trump supporters, as well. I still believe it is possible to win many of them over to socialist ideas, though it will take time, patience, and lengthy, comradely debates. We cannot simply write them all off as irredeemable racists, sexists, and “deplorables,” as so many liberals seem all too willing to do.

And lecturing members of the working class about their “white privilege” is unlikely to alter their already negative opinions of elite, college-educated, liberal know-it-alls. This is especially true when these folks are, as socialist commentator, Paul Street observes, “barely making it in shitty jobs that don’t match the ever rising costs of health care, housing, food, clothing and more.”

For a model of how to appeal to working-class voters’ material interests, look no further than Great Britain, where England’s Jeremy Corbyn (basically the UK’s version of Bernie Sanders, but with an anti-war platform), just defied all expectations, helping the Labour Party secure an historic upset in the recent snap election. Corbyn, like Sanders in the states, attracted droves of enthusiastic working-class supporters—especially young people—with his unapologetically democratic socialist campaign of taxing the rich, paying workers a living wage, nationalizing public industries, and ending the UK’s pernicious austerity programs.

Corbyn’s recent success proves there is a growing hunger among working-class people throughout the Western world for socialism. But we will not tap into that audience by following the Democrats down the new age Red Scare rabbit-hole that is “Russiagate.” Comey, the FBI, the “deep state” intelligence agencies, Clinton… none of them are on the side of working-class Americans. Only the working class, through the time-honored tradition of class-struggle, can bring about its own emancipation.

“Millions of Americans have mobilized to stop Trump and his agenda,” Selfa writes, “–from the largest day of demonstrations in U.S. history on inauguration weekend, to the town hall protests against Republican plans to take away their health insurance. For those people, ‘Wait ’till 2018′ is already too late.”

Editor’s note: Red Flag does not support or endorse any WordPress-sponsored advertisements that may appear on readers’ screens. This is another reason why workers, including writers, need to own the means of production–or in this case, the Internet.

If you like this essay feel free to share it widely (Facebook, Twitter, all that stuff…). Adam Marletta can be reached at adamd.marletta@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!

Small Business Owners — Not the Working Class — Elected Trump President

Trump Supporters

The narrative that has emerged in the months since Donald Trump’s seemingly improbable election last November—that of a “Rust Best revolt” among disaffected, white working-class voters—has been, in the words of left-wing writer, Paul Street, “badly oversold.”

It is not, in truth, an accurate, nor an especially insightful, lens through which to view Trump’s election.

If the left is to mount an effective campaign against Trump’s xenophobic, misogynist, racist, bourgeois policies—a campaign that can win real victories for the working class—it is imperative that we understand how the Predator-in-Chief and his cabinet of swamp monsters oozed their way to the White House, in the first place. And in order to do that, we must push back against this rather misleading narrative that white working-class voters are responsible for Trump’s victory.

Trump basically received the same amount of support as Mitt Romney did in 2012. His election should not be taken as evidence that the nation’s proverbial political pendulum has swung suddenly to the right. Trump’s victory is due less to Republicans gaining support among working-class voters as it is to Democrats losing that support.

As CounterPunch’s Anthony DiMaggio observes, the 2016 presidential election result was “more about growing working class and white voter disgust with the Democratic status quo than it was about being enamored with the Trump candidacy.”

He adds,

“If the Democratic Party had fielded a real progressive candidate who had a meaningful history of seeking to help the working class—Bernie Sanders, for example—the outcome of the election may have been very different.”

Then again, Sanders had the option of challenging Clinton and the Democratic machine as an independent. Likewise, the Green Party’s Jill Stein extended numerous invitations to Sanders to join her presidential campaign. She even offered to take a back seat on the ticket, as Sanders’ vice president.

But Stein’s calls to Sanders’ campaign went unanswered. Sanders, with his history in third-party politics, knew full well what he was getting into when he signed on to run as a Democrat. And no—I do not believe that Sanders would have had “no chance in hell” of winning as an independent. Voter disgust with both capitalist parties is at a record high.

But DiMaggio’s point is well taken.

Hillary Clinton proved utterly tone-deaf to the legitimate economic concerns of working-class voters—many of whom turned out in droves (twice) for the considerably more charismatic, Barack Obama.

Clinton’s empty response to Trump’s inane campaign slogan, “Make America Great, Again,” was that America is “already great.” Not only did this rebuttal fail to clearly differentiate Clinton’s brand of technocratic neoliberalism from Trump’s faux-populist nationalism, but it rang completely false to the hundreds of laid-off workers whose jobs had been shipped overseas, largely as a result of her husband’s policies.

Faced with the “choice” of two bourgeois, corporatist candidates, nearly half of eligible voters (46.9 percent) opted to stay home on Election Day. Indeed, both candidates registered record low approval ratings, even before emerging as their respective party’s nominee.

As embattled WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange put it, choosing between Clinton and Trump is like picking between “cholera and gonorrhea.”

“Personally, I would prefer neither,” Assange acidly told Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman.

And several million voters—primarily people of color or those with disabilities–were prohibited from voting due to onerous voter ID laws, incarceration or felony status, ridiculously strict voter registration deadlines, or GOP gerrymandering of voting districts. Those most affected by these punitive laws—which essentially amount to a modern day poll tax—are traditionally more inclined to vote for Democrats.

Yet, despite the depressed turnout and Clinton’s inability to excite the traditional Democratic base, she still won the popular vote by a significant margin—nearly three million votes. This makes Clinton the recipient of more votes than any other losing presidential candidate in American history, according to CNN.

It was the Electoral College–an antiquated relic of the slave-owning Founding Fathers, designed to artificially boost the influence of slave-states in elections–that ultimately handed Trump the presidency.

Trump, despite what he and his spokespeople may claim, has no popular mandate. Only three months into his presidency, Trump’s approval rating is already well below 50 percent. And his recent failure to “close the deal” on Congress’s repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, throws many of his other legislative promises into question.

So, if it was not the “white working class” that elected Trump, as the capitalist media claim, then who did?

With most of the capitalist class throwing its weight behind the more experienced, reliable Clinton, Trump drew his support largely from middle-managers, self-employed workers, and small business owners. According to the Socialist Worker‘s Lance Selfa, Trump’s supporters have a median household income of over $50,000, while Clinton generally drew from voters with less than $50,000. In keeping with the Republican Party’s general makeup, Trump voters are primarily middle-aged, white, middle-upper class, and do not have a college degree.

In other words, Trump’s support came from what Marx and Engels called the “petit bourgois,” (“petty” or “small” bourgeois; the term was intended as something of an epithet). These right-leaning small business owners and middle managers generally hate taxes and subsidies (hence their dislike of “Obamacare”), higher minimum wage laws, and government regulation of any kind.

And many of these voters were receptive to Trump’s racist, xenophobic rhetoric, which blames their economic struggles on immigrants, Muslims, and African Americans. Indeed, a CBS-New York Times post-election exit poll found an alarming 84 percent of Trump voters support deporting undocumented immigrants from the United States. Eighty-six percent, likewise, support building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Meanwhile, a similar post-election poll by the Pew Research Center reveals only seven percent of Trump supporters view sexism as a “very serious problem,” just 21 percent said the same about racism, and a mere 14 percent view climate change is a “very serious problem.”

This is not to suggest Trump voters were not at all motivated by legitimate economic grievances, including the adverse affects of global “free-trade” deals. Many of them certainly were. Nor should we dismiss them outright as irredeemable racist, sexist, ignorant “deplorables.” As Jacobin‘s Adaner Usmani aptly puts it, “All Klansmen are Trump supports, but not all Trump supporters are Klansmen.” Rather than writing these voters off (or worse, mocking them for “getting what they deserve”), the left’s goal should be to hold out an alternative vision of organizing society, one rooted in economic and social justice, that is worth fighting for.

That said, as the findings clearly show, most Trump supporters are not truly hurting economically. Many of them are doing quite well, thank you very much. As such, the media’s narrative of a “white working class uprising” at the ballot box, begins to fall apart upon closer scrutiny.

“The fact of the matter is that Trump supporters represent a perverse fusion of economic discontent and hateful, right-wing bigotry and nationalism,” DiMaggio writes. “We ignore the latter part of Trump’s support at our own peril.”

Editor’s note: Red Flag does not support or endorse any WordPress-sponsored advertisements that may appear on readers’ screens. This is another reason why workers, including writers, need to own the means of production–or in this case, the Internet.

If you like this essay feel free to share it widely (Facebook, Twitter, all that stuff…). Thanks for reading!