By Martin Love

Illusion and disillusion with Trump

November 24, 2017

Let’s make one thing clear right off the bat. I did not vote in the 2016 presidential election. I would have voted had Bernie Sanders won the Democratic Party nomination, but Hillary Clinton rigged the primaries to give herself the nomination to run against Trump.

It’s no secret what happened. I and many other observers have no doubt Sanders would have become President, beating Trump. But above all, in the past election, myself and others did not want Clinton to win. Her mendacity and her policies as Secretary of State were and remain abhorrent to millions of Americans.

Trump on the campaign trail made a lot of noise about revamping U.S. foreign policy, making it more benign. He even talked about friendly relations with Russia, not demonizing that country, and say what you want about Vladimir Putin, I admire him for going in to Syria and helping shore up the Assad government and Syria as an intact state against the mercenary terrorists sponsored by the Saudis and some of the Arab states on the Persian Gulf and, of course, the Zionist entity that calls itself “Israel”.

In my view, and in the view of other sage Americans who really understand what America is now (more on that later), I believe Trump since last winter has largely betrayed many who voted for him even if many may refuse to believe it until the next economic downturn. Particularly the so-called “middle class”, the many millions of voters in the “flyover” states between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. For one thing, he and the Republican Party have proposed a tax overhaul that benefits “the rich”, really a small minority of oligarchs at the top of the U.S. food chain. Whether the proposed tax overhaul passes the U.S. Congress remains an open question. If it does, expect a widening of the fiscal deficit, already out of control.

Trump’s foreign policies also don’t look very positive so far. His administration has given tacit support to the Saudi war on Yemen, and many there face starvation, even cholera, and many innocents have been murdered. It’s an abomination. Also, no question, Trump has thrown his hat into the ring with Netanyahu’s Likud government in Israel. People in his administration has threatened to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.  His administration is attempting to force the long suffering Palestinians to reengage in “talks” with the Zionists towards some kind of “peace” deal, but we all know how that goes and has gone for decades. The U.S. has not been a fair arbiter, and Trump hasn’t the courage, given political considerations at home, to force the Israelis to make a fair deal, and meanwhile the so-called “two state” solution is virtually impossible now. It’s a mess like few others. Trump’s support and alleged current “friendship” with Saudi prince Muhammad ibn Salman does not look promising, too, and I could go on about such postures which do not, by the way, point to benign actions or changes that promote peace in the Mideast and beyond. But there remains the matter of hope. Hope that somehow Trump wises up. But there is a much larger matter to consider, in my view, and that is the question of what the United States seems to have become in the last three or four decades.

But before trying to identify what the U.S. is now, let me say directly that even if the mainstream media in the U.S., and that includes the major newspapers and network broadcasters, has largely become a mouthpiece for the state, we here still enjoy press freedoms and freedoms of expression that have not yet been entirely curtailed, and as a journalist off and on for many years, I am not a “mainstream” voice in spirit even while, occasionally, I have seen some work published in establishment journals. It can be difficult to tell the truth, in any case, as perhaps it is in some other countries. I rely on the shared views of intellectuals and other writers like myself who have at least attempted to get a grip on the American scene, such as it has become. One such intellectual, for example, is the now retired Princeton University political science professor Dr. Sheldon Wolin. In general, Wolin believes that the U.S. has become a state of what he terms “inverted totalitarianism”. This is a state which does not rely on the existence of a political “strongman”, but rather a state that on the surface maintains the institutions and norms of a “democracy” but really is no longer a true democracy where ALL the citizens have an equal voice in the formulation and conduct of policy. Democracy has become an illusion.

We have now the appearance-- the illusion -- only of two major political parties alleging to have different views and aspirations, but really both are beholding to the same special, narrow interests, and this is largely why we get the same old policies year after year, whether internal or foreign, no matter who wins an election. (This includes the same old, stale attitudes towards Iran.)

What, then, are these powerful “interests”? They are, by and large, major U.S. corporations and the oligarchs who run big business and the Wall Street banks, powerful lobbies like AIPAC, and even the U.S. mainstream media. Laws have been enacted to make these various interest groups the supreme arbiters of policy, even environmental policy. For this, in my opinion, the U.S. is struggling with outright decline and weaker influence worldwide. Struggling in such a way that makes attempted maintenance of influence and power and hegemony dangerous, as we see in the myriad U.S. military interventions overseas, perhaps starting with the Vietnam War. It’s a game that cannot be played indefinitely, if for no other reason but that the U.S. national debt is beyond redemption, and money printing is no path to prosperity, or has never proven to be such historically.

Thus, many Americans wait in a state of suspense and suspicion. What, we wonder, is coming next, and yet there remain too many citizens, the relatively uneducated, who fervently want to believe that the government under Trump is working in their interests, and often vehemently refuse to believe otherwise, if only because it comforts them in a time of confusions and unease. If, for example, the economy cracks once again as it died in 2008-09, and it well may sometime ahead, then the country faces a day of reckoning – as many more citizens become more disillusioned and outraged. The wealth disparity in the U.S. has never been greater, and poverty is becoming rampant. And people always finally point to what bad policy has done to their living standards.