Brownshirts under the bed

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How to Stop Fascism

Paul Mason, Allen Lane, 256 Pages, £20

KEN BELL finds a noted Labour intellectual fighting an imaginary enemy

Paul Mason is one of those interesting characters who now seem to pop up everywhere, telling the rest of us what to believe. In his student days he was a member of Workers’ Power, a Trotskyite grouplet that never had any actual workers in it. After a period as a teacher he moved into the media, first as economics editor of BBC Newsnight, then switching to Channel 4 in a similar role. He is now a freelance writer who pops up often in the Guardian, and his work seems to influence today’s left, which is probably why Labour keeps losing elections.

His latest offering, How to Stop Fascism, is a case in point. It argues that there is a new, fascist menace in Britain which must be rooted out. However, he presents no evidence to back up that claim, but then it is quite likely that he doesn’t need any. Mason’s works are clearly aimed at a particular middle-class readership – people who are convinced that working people are a racist tribe to be overcome.

That does not stop him from looking around to find evidence of this threat, and funnily enough his working class enemies always turn up to illustrate and confirm everything he is saying to his readership. So, in the 2019 general election, he went back to his home town of Leigh to campaign for the Labour candidate in that division, and on the doorsteps he heard “men my own age openly fantasizing about the ethnic cleansing of Romanian migrants.” Of course you did, Paul. My experience of canvassing is that if you can get people away from the TV long enough to open the door they tell you just what you want to hear to get rid of you, before going back to Coronation Street. The last thing you get is anything approaching a political debate.

Fast forward to June 2020 and our hero is in London, “an obviously multicultural city.” On the day that he was there, the statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square had recently been defaced by the Black Lives Matter rabble, so understandably, groups of British working people had turned up to protest at that outrage to one of the nation’s heroes. Mason was just outside the square and found that he had

…entered a zone of white monoculture. Suddenly there were no students, no people of colour, no tourists, no out-gay people. I was back in the world I grew up in. White men, working class… shouting profanities and swilling lager.

It really is amazing how this author manages to keep bumping into working class men who confirm his colourful thesis. He even managed to see a postman in the crowd, and you can’t get prolier than that.

He ropes in Donald Trump to help bolster his case, even though he admits that “Trump is not a fascist”. However, he then goes on to say that “there is a plebeian mass base for American fascism, and Trump has chosen to lead it”. It is hard to know what to make of that concept, which reads as if Trump is a sort of Schrödinger’s Politician, simultaneously in two states of being at the same time. I was also taken with his “plebeian mass base” line: presumably he feels that the problem with today’s world is that patricians (like him) do not rule it. Mason goes on to say:

Trump’s victory in 2016 was a turning point. It confirmed that there is a massive constituency in the United States for economic nationalism and isolationism, and forced all other countries to accept deglobalisation as a strategic reality.

Now, given that for most of its history up to the advent of the Progressive Era in the 1890s the USA had been firmly isolationist and had protected its nascent industries behind a massive tariff wall, a very good case can be made for arguing that all Trump wanted to do was to restore the status quo ante, which is hardly the mark of a fascist. More importantly, Mason claims to be a socialist, and since when have socialists been in favour of globalisation? It should be remembered that globalisation is not the same as internationalism. I can remember when Communist shop stewards in British factories collected money to buy bicycles that were shipped to Vietnam. There they were used on the Ho Chi Minh Trail to carry war supplies to the South, as part of Vietnam’s war of national liberation. The aim was not the globalist one of opening Vietnam’s borders to all and sundry, or seeing Vietnamese people flooding over here to provide cheap labour in nail bars. It was the internationalist one of providing help to a people who wanted to govern themselves without interference from outside. (A bit like us with Brexit, perhaps?)

Mason is clearly a great fan of globalisation, since the politicians he hates, specifically Trump and Johnson, are “authoritarian nationalists” who “broke with the globalist consensus in the 2010s”. It is difficult to imagine either man as being authoritarian, with Boris in particular anguishing over the lockdown to try and control the coronavirus and Trump leaving all that up to the states. However, both men did break with the “globalist consensus” and since Mason is all in favour of that consensus it must mean that they are authoritarians. Or something; you can never tell with this author.

He never gets close to actually pointing his finger at any real fascists, or explain what fascism is, so that we can recognise its followers if we ever see them. To get around that problem he tells us,

Once we move beyond sterile definitions and understand fascism as a process of social breakdown…we can see the nit-picking formalism among some historians and the left as an obstacle to comprehension

I hope that is clear to you, because it reads like gibberish to me. The best I can come up with from a reading of the text is that fascists are the socially conservative, perhaps economically radical, “plebeian mass” who refuse to listen to Paul Mason.

Do I recommend this book to my readers? Surprisingly, I do. If you are a Tory worried by the shenanigans of Boris and his surreal cabinet, then you may be worried that your party will lose the next election, so read Mason’s book and put your mind at ease. On the other hand, if you are a Labour supporter who hopes your party will win the next election, you should probably have your hopes dashed now, so you will be emotionally prepared for defeat at the next election. People like Mason obviously detest traditional British values and the people who uphold them, and they now control the Labour Party, especially at local level. They are the ones who read works like this and believe the arguments in them because they tie in with views that the readers already hold. Come the next election, all Boris has to do is point out the contempt and disdain so many Labour intellectuals have for ordinary people – the plebeian mass – and then ask if they want people like Paul Mason ruling over them? I think that the answer to that question is obvious.

American piety: meet the new Boss

MARK GULLICK sees wrinkles on the Free World’s senior stuffed-shirt

“I confess that in America I saw more than America; I sought the image of democracy itself, with its inclinations, its character, its prejudices, and its passions, in order to learn what we have to fear or to hope from its progress”1          

President Biden is already being granted the status of a deity. Roman Emperors nominated themselves as gods. Biden outsources that troublesome administrative business to the media. The New York Times has claimed the incoming administration is “the return of the adults”. One can only, as Bertie Wooster said, shake one’s head and pass on.

Joe Biden shares one political attribute with Donald Trump; his own party neither like him nor do they want him as president.

Just as many Republicans held their noses when Trump attained the presidency in 2016, so too Biden is not wanted by his own supposed fellow partisans, and he may well be a Trojan horse containing Kamala Harris and her people. Biden looks mentally and, frankly, morally frail, a man both bereft of any real intelligence save that of the rat-like, push-button, food-pellet cunning on which the political class rely, and the possible onset of a condition causing him to stumble through sentences in a way that makes George W. Bush look like Stephen Fry.

After yet another dirty and disputed election (they actually go back to JFK), a question really has to be asked of the USA. In a country acknowledged as the world’s superpower, and containing well over 300 million people, if the best of the best are a pugnacious boor and an old man clearly in the early stages of dementia, what does this say about that country? As the psychopathic killer Anton Chigurh in Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men asks of a man he is about to kill: if the rule you followed led you to this, of what use was the rule?

Biden’s appeal, of course, is that he is not Donald Trump, in much the same way that Trump’s USP was that he was not Hillary Clinton. Trump appalled the political and media class with his 2016 victory, coming as he did from outside the ideological training camps of the establishment, or ‘the swamp’ as Trump’s (few genuine) people dubbed it. The legacy of Trump’s presidency will be more or less meaningless on the ground in 2021, as Biden’s people will have the incoming president repeal anything of worth Trump might have done. Trump has, however, distilled a strain of conservatism from a good many Americans, and his next political move will be watched with interest. The formation of the ‘Patriot Party’ is being more than whispered in the corridors of power, although he may end up just throwing rocks over the perimeter wall of Fortress Biden.

This is no mere metaphor. The implication of Biden’s absurd inauguration, which saw more troops in Washington DC than were at that time serving in Iraq and Afghanistan (and who later had to bed down in a car park) was that some redneck army was about to storm Capitol Hill, and this because – to give the media’s supposedly unbiased tone – a gaggle of trailer-trash, tornado-bait, white supremacist wastrels pranced about in the Senate House and sat in Nancy Pelosi’s chair. The Soviet-style optics of Biden’s swearing-in show what the next four years will be like for America. This could well be the power grab, and all under the false flag of healing division and the supposed social unrest ‘caused’ by Trump and his non-existent far-Right Wehrmacht. Watch for the politicisation of the American military. A lot hangs on it. Biden has already ordered that troops serving in Washington DC have their social media backgrounds checked.

As much of a failure as it seems to genuine conservatives, however, The Trump presidency did have its uses. It served to bring the deep state out of the shadows and into the light. The citizenry, the real people, are aware now that there is something going on backstage, and that something is rotten in the state of Washington DC. And, following from this revelation, it finally became obvious that the political divisions in America are genuinely partisan, although not along party lines. These are a mere mummer’s play, to distract and entertain. The significant divide is between the deep state and its operatives – from Nancy Pelosi through CNN Thunderbirds-puppet Anderson Cooper right down to the most raggle-taggle Antifa street-fighter – and ordinary people who want no part in what is taking shape.

One of the marked effects of Trump’s reign was that one part of the USA got to see just how much the other part hates them. It is axiomatic now that while creatures of the political Right may not agree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it, the Left will defend their right to be hurt by it and to do their utmost to see that you go to jail for saying it. Biden will do nothing to discourage this Leninist cultural mood music during his regime.

The hippies were fond of saying that whoever you vote for, the government always gets in. So, meet the new boss, same as the old boss? Hardly. Obama quietly advised Trump to go easy on the executive orders in 2016 but, it goes without saying, no such restriction applies to the incoming President, at least one of whose strings Obama may be pulling, and Biden had his pen out and was signing executive orders on Day 1 (I wonder which of the White House’s many rooms has a few suits of Obama’s in the wardrobe for advisory stopovers).

Obama had set a record for recent presidents – a president precedent, if you will ­– with five executive orders in his first week, trumping Trump’s four, Clinton’s one, and Bush’s zero although, in all fairness, Bush may not have worked out the click function on his biro. Well before the end of Biden’s first week in the Oval Office, he had signed 21 executive orders, with 12 subsidiaries having more or less the same effect. At the time of writing, like a cricketer enjoying his innings, he has passed the half-century mark to 52. America, welcome to Papal governance, by bull and edict, circa the Middle Ages. My apologies for the lapse into Latin, but if you don’t know what a statement ex cathedra is, you had better learn.

This snow-flurry of immediate legislation has seen Biden lead with race and its subsidiary industries, and the course of his term can be seen with clarity right from what Americans call the ‘get-go.’ Like an expert bridge player, Biden (by which I will always mean those who prop him up politically) has led with the only suit guaranteed to win any game just at the moment: immigration.

Immigrants and their corporate and moralistic lobbyists will see many things to please them in the new White House team, such as including illegal immigrants in the census, protecting the same from deportation, whatever they might do, and, notably, the possibility of a much-touted amnesty. This remains to be seen as it is a bigger ask than the usual tinkering with green cards, and the potential for problems for the regime lie in wait in the form of a possible crime wave. Always remember, it is far easier for an MS-13 gang member to move to America than it is for you to move to Japan. On a related subject, Biden will be ending what the Regime Media called the ‘Muslim ban’. It was no such thing, of course, and again this is not the best time for a wave of immigrants whose COVID status it will cost you money you don’t have to ascertain.

Now, it would seem obvious that in a time of a pandemic governments across the world have been accused of over-reacting to, accelerated immigration would not be a priority. But that axiom would assume a guiding logic, with the result being favourable for the host country. Biden – and the Democrat Party as a whole – has made it clear that the opposite is the intention. Crippling and wounding America has been the ulterior motive of every move that party has made since Obama (very much America’s Tony Blair) came to power and proceeded to double the national debt, champion Islam, play more race card aces than a saloon-bar card-cheat, and target his enemies (like the Tea Party) with a weaponised tax-auditing system.

Along with an influx of Muslim immigrants – which cannot reduce a country’s chance of terrorist attacks – there are already new ‘refugee caravans’ forming from Honduras and elsewhere. If they make it to the promised land, they will drain that land of resources by virtue of being negative social capital. Trump was right, for all his boorishness, when he pointed out that Latin American countries do not always dispatch their best and brightest to America, and also that some of the countries they are understandably escaping from are indeed, as Trump so eloquently portrayed them, “shitholes”.

Culturally, one of the most meaningful things Trump did was cut out the rot of critical race theory – a non-subject invented for political and cultural power and control – from America’s public sector. Despite occasional muttering to placate the UK’s few remaining Conservatives, Boris Johnson would never do that in the UK because it would spook the horses at The Guardian which, for reasons unknown, Johnson believes most British people read rather than an ever-dwindling number of snub-nosed readers who eat artisan bread and have children called Pandora and Oberon. If Russia carpet-bombed the London boroughs of Islington, Hampstead and Crouch End, it would halve the readership of The Guardian. I digress.

Biden will, of course, reinstate the chippy, joke-woke curriculum that has become the fad, because it does him no harm to do so. It must always be remembered that the credo of every modern politician is almost the same as the first line of the Hippocratic Oath. First do no harm. To myself.

To his credit, Biden (or rather that of his people; he is a stuffed shirt) has distanced himself from the ‘defund the police’ crazies, and would do well to steer clear of Black Lives Matter, who will demand more and more in terms of reparations, affirmative action, lighter sentencing for blacks and so on. I don’t imagine Biden can pronounce ‘anarcho-tyranny’, but I hope his team know what it is, and are against it rather than for it.

Biden has an immediate problem here, or his optics people do. The list of pressure groups and plain-old fashioned ‘political activists’ (aka ‘community organisers’. Obama was one) who will be queuing at the White House door for their quid pro quo in return for their bloc vote will be a long one. Biden had better hope that the media sides with him and not with the crazies and zanies of the hard American Left.

In terms of infrastructure, some of the Biden moves will be yawn-inducingly obvious. He has already started by pulling the plug on the K1 pipeline, and halting fracking. This will make America’s spurious ally Saudi Arabia happy as they had no desire to see an energy-independent North America. Biden will set about dismantling Trump’s wall immediately, shedding American jobs but pleasing the open borders brigade. America has just announced it will return to the jamboree of the Paris Climate Accord, which is bound to cost the taxpayer money. Trump’s tax cuts for the middle class will, it goes without saying, be annulled.

Money. As The O’Jays memorably sang, you can do bad, do bad, do bad things with it. Inflation will be the next problem for the new administration, although the media will be working with all hands on deck to claim that any financial problems encountered by the Biden White House was because of the scoundrel, Hitler-tribute-act Trump, memory-holing the fact that the pre-COVID economy was buoyant under the 45th President. No matter how confident the technocrats are, economics continues to elude them. I have never found a definitive provenance for this gemlike phrase, although noted Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis has been suggested:

Astrology became astronomy. Alchemy became chemistry. I wonder what economics will become

America is playing a dangerous game. ‘Quantitative easing’ may sound technocratically efficient and soothing, but it just effectively means printing money, which tends to mean inflation blooming into hyperinflation, as with Weimar Germany, Zimbabwe and Venezuela. In three months in 2020, ostensibly to ease the economy through the somewhat exaggerated melodrama of COVID-19, the Federal Reserve ‘created’ $3 trillion. It does not, of course, literally print money (ordinary people might be able to get hold of actual cash, and that would never do) but buys what are essentially junk bonds and creates an artificial financial ecosystem in a fiscal hothouse many believe is unsustainable.

Add to this the fact that Biden has already effectively signed off another household stimulus check, and that he has a pack of rabid socialists – such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an extraordinary fudge-brained bimbo who inexplicably has slunk in to the corridors of power – baying at him to shake the magic money tree even harder and increase the amount – and even make it a regular, monthly payment, sounding very close to the universal basic income which is in the minds of many on the Left – and the full nature of history’s biggest-ever financial gamble begins to become worryingly clear.

And it won’t just be the money supply that is at issue. It is what happens to the money that already ‘exists’. Cronyism certainly won’t be going anywhere. There is already evidence that Biden wants to reintroduce the so-called ‘Settlement Slush Funds’, an Obama monstrosity whereby corporate offenders pay not the victims of their misdemeanours, nor even the government, but a coterie of Left-wing pressure groups, including as just one example La Raza – ‘the race’ (imagine a Caucasian equivalent!) – the openly racist Latin American hybrid pressure-group of lobbyists and thugs currently attempting a reconquista. This reverses the dedicated and specific – and surely morally upstanding – work against this extraordinary funding hack by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one of several Trump hires currently pulling a knife out of his back.

A priority of the Biden administration will be control of the media, particularly online. They don’t need to bother with the MSM who, if they acted any more like cheerleaders for Uncle Joe (where have I heard that name before?), would have ra-ra skirts and pom-poms and a college song. One of the most alarming events of 2020 – an alarming year all round – was the way in which government avoided accusations of censorship, de-platforming and banning various conservative voices by effectively outsourcing the dirty work at the crossroads to big tech in the same way a British bank has its call centre in Delhi. Biden won’t touch any of that. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. (With the economy, on the other hand, it will be more a case of, if it ain’t broke, fix it till it is.)

The Biden administration will be a disaster to everyone save the media, who will be campaigning as though they were the captain of the Titanic saying that the ship hadn’t sunk at all, he was just inventing the submarine. To say that America is becoming a banana republic that can’t even run a free and fair election may be to be unfair to banana republics. After all, they at least have cheap bananas, and what happens next to America is anybody’s guess. May you live in interesting times, said the Chinese sage.

  1. Alexander de Tocqueville, Democracy in America []

Is there a future for ‘Trumpism’?

PETER B. GEMMA says ‘Trumpism’ was always more about attitude than ideas

The future of “Trumpism,” (geez, I hate that term on so many levels as you will find out), is really a two-part question: American politics with or without Donald Trump. The quick answer is of course, President Donald Trump (he still is as I write; and, no, after January I will not be saying “Biden? He’s not my President”, as the Clintonites have done for four years) will long have an impact on politics.

This writer has never had a legitimate job; political campaigns and issue advocacy is all I know. I read every word of political junk mail, hold my breath when campaign commercials come on, and I ingest the writings of commentators, no matter what the axe they may be grinding. One of my favorites is Andrew Sullivan, the British-born American author, blogger, and former editor of The New Republic. He is a left-wing pundit full of common sense. In his essay, “Trump Is Gone. Trumpism Just Arrived,”[1] Sullivan says it best:

His impact, however, is undeniable. Neoconservatism is over; globalization as some kind of conservative principle is over; a conservatism that allows for or looks away from unrestrained mass immigration is over. What was cemented in place this week is a new GOP, not unlike the new Tories in the UK. They’re nationalist, culturally conservative, geared toward the losers of capitalism as well as its winners, and mildly protectionist and isolationist. It is a natural response to the unintended consequences of neoliberalism’s success under a conservative banner. And it speaks in a language that working class Americans understand, devoid of the woke neologisms of the educated elite. It seems to me that this formula is a far more settled and electorally potent coalition than what we now see among the deeply divided Democrats.

Barry Goldwater on the campaign trail

A quick glance back: I do not have time to tell the story of 1964, when the conservative icon Barry Goldwater was defeated by Lyndon Johnson in a landslide, and whose most ardent supporters rallied to the cry, “26,000,000 Americans can’t be wrong!” They went on to create the Reagan era. Goldwater’s movement ain’t got nothin’ on what the Trump loyalists could do if they believe 74,000,000 Americans can’t be wrong.

Of course, it’s not that easy an equation, given the political/philosophical/social mish-mash of followers Trump attracted and the current wailing and gnashing of teeth about a ‘stolen’ election, but you get the drift: if we take our loses, learn some lessons, we can lurch forward.

Before we look at what might be next in politics, it’s time to address the what the current election fuss is all about. Did Trump really lose? After all, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence to call into question Biden’s winning margin in swing states. In the final months of the campaign, the ground rules of the election changed in a way that helped Democrats and stymied Republicans. In Pennsylvania, where ballots received after the election were counted (not kosher in any previous election), 63% of the mail-in ballot requests came from Democrats, and 25% from Republicans. In North Carolina, 46 % of mail-in ballots were from Democrats, and just 20% were from Republicans. In a contest with an historic turnout, President-elect Joe Biden apparently topped President Donald Trump by nearly seven million votes, and 74 votes in the Electoral College, but his victory really was stitched together with narrow margins in a handful of states with . As National Public Radio pointed out,

just 44,000 votes in Georgia, Arizona and Wisconsin separated Biden and Trump from a tie in the Electoral College. Of course, Trump is no stranger to narrow victories. He won the 2016 election thanks to just under 80,000 combined votes in three of six key states [2]

Does the American democratic election process work? Yes. Is there a factor of fraud and honest mistakes in every count? Yes. Is a stolen election easy to prove? Not very often, and most likely in local races. Will the entire 2020 election results be overthrown? Nope.

The election-was-stolen-and-all-is-lost hysteria among some conservatives reminds this writer of the Obama birth certificate hoopla. Sure, there may have been some reasons to doubt Barack Hussein Obama was born in the United States, thus making him ineligible to serve, but time marched on. There certainly wasn’t enough solid legal evidence, so reality had to be faced. Once conservatives got out of the mode of ‘he’s not my President’ and hunkered down for guerilla warfare against the Democrats, Donald Trump sensed there was a movement to lead and he triumphed.

“Donald Trump sensed there was a movement to lead…”

What the hell happened?

Again, I turn to Andrew Sullivan:

This was far from the Biden landslide I had been dreaming about a few weeks back. It was rather the moment that the American people surgically removed an unhinged leader and re-endorsed the gist of his politics. It was the moment that Trump’s core message was seared into one of our major political parties for the foreseeable future, and realigned American politics.

Trump was deliberately bellicose and belligerent, eliciting cheers from his supporters for his chutzpah and gasps from everyone else, including swing voters.

NBC political analysts described the election happened this way:

Heading into the election, Democrats dreamed it would go something like Star Wars, with rebel forces blowing up the Death Star and celebrating in the streets as a blue wave swept them into power in Washington and state capitals across the country, but President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory ended up looking more like the horror movie Alien, with the last bedraggled survivor kicking the monster out the airlock and then drifting off to an uncertain fate in deep dark space. And wherever they ended up, there would probably be another alien…the results were brutal down the ballot for Democrats in ways that could haunt them for years [3]

So, what really happened? Trump lost. He pushed the envelope of civility and consistency off the edge. As conservative commentator Tucker Carlson tells it,

Donald Trump is a talker, a boaster, a booster, a compulsive self-promoter. At times, he’s a full-blown BS artist

The appearance of boldness and defiance was a two-edged sword, with one side, explainable as a self-made New York tough guy, but the other was a bit sharper: inconsistent, incompetent, and uncaring.

Trump did instigate a (nascent) movement, which is hard to assess this early, but something is shaking the ground. In an amazing showing, Trump supporters squared off against powerful special interests, from the media to Wall Street moguls, and they are still standing. About 98% of political contributions from internet companies this cycle went to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The CEOs of Asana, Twilio, and Netflix were among the biggest contributors, and they all targeted Democratic groups and candidates.

One interesting sidebar: the media’s censorship of negative stories about Joe Biden may have cost Trump the election, according to a poll published by the Media Research Center (MRC). Among those surveyed, one in six Biden voters said they would not have voted for the president-elect if they had been aware of one or more of negative news stories presented to them, the poll found. MRC’s poll, conducted by The Polling Company, asked voters about eight news stories that “the liberal news media had failed to cover properly,” a press release from MRC stated. “A shift of this magnitude would have changed the outcome in all six of the swing states won by Joe Biden,” the MRC determined.[4]

New York Post columnist Karol Marcowicz noted,

The big takeaway from the Trump years for conservatives should be that the era of politeness when dealing with an impossibly biased, and agenda-driven, legacy media has ended and should never return. Republicans in general, and conservatives in particular, had come to expect that they would never be treated fairly by the news media. To the legacy media, Republicans fell into two categories: Hitler or worse than Hitler. Republicans considered avoidance better than confrontation. Donald Trump didn’t. Supporters made Trump’s willingness to fight a key refrain. He does not take things in stride. He punches back. Even for conservatives who opposed him, such as me, it was fun to watch. He called out everything and everyone [5]

The Democrats were caught by surprise in November. After four long years of demonizing Donald Trump (and he made it soooo easy), they reached deep into their pockets to fund a blue wave: states were targeted to flip local legislatures; overturning the Republican majority in the Senate was a glorious crusade, and strengthening the edge Democrats held in the Congress was an easy win. Democrats ran the first billion-dollar presidential campaign, outraising Trump by about 60%. However …

  • In key U.S. Senate races, Democrats outspent Republicans: in Maine, it was $70 million to $24 million, but they lost by nine points; Republican majority leader Senator Mitch McConnell was re-elected in a landslide despite falling $40 million short of what his opponent raised; Republicans won the Alaska Senate seat although the Democrats spent twice as much money; and in North Carolina, the Democrat vs. Republican spending ratio was nearly three-to-one but they were defeated. The two Senate seats in Georgia are still in play in a run-off, however, historically Republicans are favored there.
  • Democrats now have the narrowest margin in the House of Representatives since World War II – not a single Republican incumbent, all tightly tied by their opponents to President Trump, was defeated. With their dramatic gains this year, the House is, by historical political measure, headed for a party flip in 2022.
  • The blue wave of 2018 left Democrats just a few seats away from a majority in a dozen state chambers. They lost across the board, with Republicans actually flipping control of two state legislatures in states that Biden won. Republicans will have control next year of 20 state governments that will collectively draw 188 new congressional districts, while the Democrats will control 73 districts; the number of Republican governors increased to a 27-23 margin.

The governing implications for Joe Biden and the Democrats are stark: getting any sort of partisan measure through the House will require near-unanimity inside their party, forcing negotiations with various factions of lawmakers resulting in fewer aspirational “messaging” bills and radical legislation. Meanwhile, an emboldened Republican minority will look to wreak havoc and magnify internal disputes ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Trump lost, but did Trumpism win?

I don’t really know, but some people think so. Here’s Andrew Sullivan’s take:

This mass secret vote revealed that the New York Times’ woke narrative of America – the centuries-long suffocating oppression of minorities and women by cis white straight men – is simply a niche elite belief, invented in a bubble academy, and imposed by bullying, shaming and if possible, firing dissenters. Some of us who refused to cower can gain real satisfaction from knowing we were not mad, not evil, not bigots, and that a huge swathe of our fellow citizens agrees

J.D. Scholten, a promising but losing Democratic congressional candidate in Iowa, put it this way: “There’s something culturally that is working for Republicans and it’s definitely not for Democrats,” noting that his campaign message faulting Trump’s handling of the coronavirus didn’t resonate with voters. He called the election a “Trump tidal wave” in rural areas, places where Democrats had made some progress in the state in the 2018 midterm election: “We got smoked. There’s no sugarcoating it.”[6]

A Democrat campaign manager for a local candidate in Pennsylvania said,

There’s a significant difference between a referendum on a clown show, which is what we had at the top of the ticket, and embracing the values of the Democratic ticket…People bought into Joe Biden to stop the insanity in the White House. They did not suddenly become Democrats

So, the Democrats lost, Republicans did far better than expected, but did Trumpism as a movement win?

Peering through the smoke that follows the 2020 election battle, there seems to be a new coalition forging so perhaps it is true that there is a Trump movement, but it looks like people, not an “ism.”

Biden and Trump represent starkly different Americas, according to the Associated Press VoteCast survey of more than 110,000 voters in all 50 states. Trump voters in the survey were overwhelmingly white—about 86% nationally—compared with 62% of Biden voters. Only a fourth of Biden supporters come from small towns or rural areas. Nearly half of Trump voters live in those areas. More white women voted for President Donald Trump in 2020 (55%) compared to the 52% who voted for him in 2016, according to a New York Times exit poll. Trump solidified his base; he even pulled out more voters in New York City, where he cut his home ties and moved to Florida, than he did four years ago.

Biden was the beneficiary of a anyone-but-Trump constituency. Among Trump voters, 90% say they voted for the president, while just eight percent said they were voting against Biden. Among Democrats, only 56% said they were voting for Biden. Twenty-nine percent revealed they were voting against Trump, while a surprisingly high 15% were not sure.[7]

Andrew Sullivan dug into other statistics:

For the past five years, Democrats have been telling us that Trump and his supporters were white supremacists, that he was indeed the “First White President,” that all minorities were under assault by the modern day equivalent of the KKK. And yet, the GOP got the highest proportion of the minority vote since 1960!

Sullivan goes on to use another exclamation point:

Twenty-eight percent of the gay, lesbian and transgender population also went for Trump. The gay vote for Trump may have doubled! White women still voted for Trump by 55%. Among white women with no college education, arguably those most vulnerable to the predations of men [like Trump] gave him 60% support.

Sullivan could use another exclamation point: Trump increased support from Black voters by 50%, the largest share of that constituency any Republican has garnered in a half century! (He also carried a majority of the Native American vote.) The Democrats’ rejection among white, working-class voters (not poor people), particularly in rural areas and small towns, helped lead to their disappointments and a demographic description of a Trump movement.

Democrats have largely abandoned the working and middle class. Trump won three-quarters of the white working-class vote, down only slightly from 2016. He did best with those who work with their hands, in factories, the logistics industry and energy, notes a recent study by CityLab. Some 10,000 small businesses have closed because of Draconian edicts overwhelmingly put in place by Democrats. The residual effect, politically, has just begun.

Let me be clear at this point: Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump. The Democrats identified, motivated, and got out a record-breaking number of supporters, albeit on what seems to be an anti-Trump message. Indeed, Biden (according to exit polls) still won nearly three-quarters of nonwhite voters, a majority of union members, and a majority of those making under $100,000.

In politics and public policy debates, change happens mainly on the margin. Small riders – issue ornaments – to big bills, can make or break whole legislative agendas. Slight shifts in demographics and small inroads into key constituencies can change the outcome of an election and help define a movement. 

A postcard from the Spanish-American War, when Americans helped Cubans throw off Spanish rule

Currently, the face of Trumpism is not quite in focus. Donald Trump lost the presidency but showed Republicans a way to win the culture wars with working-class Hispanics by not talking to them as Hispanics. Trump earned 28% of Latino votes in 2016 and approximately 32% in 2020. Despite four years of being defined as a racist for his rhetoric and immigration policies, Trump improved his margins in 78 of the nation’s 100 majority-Hispanic counties.

“We can’t even fathom that there are a lot of Mexicans who love Donald Trump,” said Chuck Rocha, a Texas-raised Democratic strategist who runs Nuestro PAC, a super PAC focused on Latino outreach. “Biden won, and that’s great, but everything underneath Biden was a huge catastrophe.” Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) explained the phenomenon this way: “What Trump did is understand the basic values of Hispanics.”

As Biden forces ran the usual Spanish-language ads, Donald Trump, Jr. visited a Hispanic Pentecostal church to campaign for his father – far more visible. A 2017 Pew Research study concluded,

Most Latinos see religion as a moral compass to guide their own political thinking, and they expect the same of their political leader [and] most Latinos view the pulpit as an appropriate place to address social and political issues. Latinos who are evangelicals are twice as likely as those who are Catholics to identify with the Republican Party [8]

The President launched “Evangelicals for Trump” in January by visiting El Rey Jesús Global, a megachurch in Miami led by Pastor Guillermo Maldonado.

Miami-Dade is Florida’s largest county with the largest Latino population. Trump lost there by almost 30 %age points in 2016. He lost it by just seven points in November. Florida Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who was defeated in her re-election bid, said the Democratic Party “thinks racial identity is how we vote.”

For years, Democrats expressed confidence that the country’s increasingly diverse, less-white electorate would give them an edge long-term over Republicans. Identity politics of the Democrats, “what’s in it for us,” lost. Trump’s version “it’s us versus them,” won.

“What’s in it for us” even took a beating in California where there is a majority-minority population: voters defeated an attempt to revoke a 1996 binding referendum that banned the use of race, national origin, or sex by state universities and other agencies. The left has spent almost a quarter-century trying to reverse that policy, but its latest attempt lost handily despite a 14-to-one margin in campaign spending.

There was a discernible (even remarkable) shift on the margins according to election results data, and the media elite are noticing. Axios CEO Jim VandeHei conceded,

The media remains fairly clueless about the America that exists outside of the big cities, where most political writers and editors live. The coverage missed badly the surge in Trump voters in places obvious (rural America) and less obvious (Hispanic-heavy border towns in Texas)

He chides his fellow elites too:

Let’s be honest: Many of us under-appreciated the appeal of Trump’s anti-socialism message and the backlash against the defund-the-police rhetoric on the left. The media (and many Democrats) are clueless about the needs, wants and trends of Hispanic voters. Top Latinos warned about overlooking and misreading the fastest-growing population in America, but most didn’t listen. Hispanics will shape huge chunks of America’s political future

The future of something called Trumpism is in the hands of grass roots Trump supporters, and they may have momentum as fissures between traditional liberal Democrats and far-left progressives are cracking. Writer and left-wing activist Lauren Martinchek notes,

There is no Donald Trump the boogeyman for them [mainstream Democrats] to hide behind anymore. Whether they like it or not, especially with Trump out of the way, the left is not through with the Democratic party. While the liberals go back to brunch, we’ll gladly be getting ready for primaries. We don’t have the time, nor the patience to sit here and listen while loyal liberal voters inevitably tell us to pipe down because midterms are on the way. You had 2020. We’ll take it from here [9]

The Democrats seem likely to give Trump (as a shadow President who doesn’t know how to whisper) the opportunity to represent a large portion of the American middle and working classes over the next four years. He will embolden his supporters to be active and, frankly, a pain in the ass for Democrats and Republicans. The Biden agenda will be tweaked, stymied, compromised, and come under fire by the left and right in Congress.[10] David Shor, a Democratic polling and data expert who advised liberal political action committees this cycle, observed,

It is mathematically almost impossible for our current coalition to wield electoral power…There’s a lot of people in the party who are uncomfortable with the implications of the idea that we really have to adopt a maximalist attempt to appeal to (white) working-class voters

These conditions look very promising for a Trumpism movement. Save for one thing: Donald Trump.

The real question is, what is Trumpism?

If you string together all the data and observations above, the answer looks like there is a movement afoot, a new coalition of voters that have the political elites worried. However, movements, especially those led by charismatic leaders, come and go.

Congressman Ron Paul’s Republican presidential crusades of 1992 and 1996 raised buckets of money, attracted thousands to rallies, and scored far better than pollsters predicted. Without Ron Paul as the active figurehead, they have become one influence within the Republican Party (I was a paid consultant for the Paul campaign in those races). Senator Bernie Sanders, Paul’s mirror image in the Democrat Party, started a movement via his campaigns of 2016 and 2020 which is having great impact on the political process – that movement may last beyond Sanders himself as new socialist firebrands arise, namely Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

It’s hard to define Trump’s following as a movement because there is no ideological definition of “Trumpism.” Trump wrote red-ink annual budgets. He’s no fiscal conservative but he converted the formerly tightwad Republicans into supporting more national debt. He is a progressive when it comes to gay rights and inclusion, something that doesn’t mix well with his ardent pro-life and Evangelical base. Trump tends to shy away from international military excursions, angst for the heart and soul of traditional Republican war hawks and their moneyed arms industry friends. What unites the wide variety of constituencies that was hammered together over the past four years is Donald Trump himself. His machismo attitude, anti-establishment rhetoric, and something for everyone agenda (ill-defined populism) added up to a remarkable political statement in 2020, albeit he lost the presidency. At any given time, Trump was a moderate, conservative, populist, nationalist, or almost any combination thereof.

The famous ‘King-Emperor’ meme

Donald Trump is Donald Trump. Unlike Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, whose names one can associate with a particular world vision, the thought of Donald Trump brings his style to mind: authoritarian, pugnacious, and contrarian, which in turn can be applied to positions on guns, immigration, foreign trade, etc. In fact, the Trump style, can at any time give emphasis to look nationalist, populist, or traditionally Republican in appearance. That inconsistency actually turned into a magnet because of Donald Trump playing Donald Trump; the glue to his particular coalition is in his blood.

Joel Kotkin, Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University: noted,

Trump’s challenge to the establishmentarian worldview will resonate, even after the election. His willingness to stand up to China’s trade policies violated the interests of the corporate elite, tech, Hollywood, and the mainstream media, all of whom almost without exception backed his opponent

Donald Trump is an anti-establishment personality, but does not represent a philosophy or an ideology, the why of Trumpism. It isn’t even about the how Trumpism works, since Donald Trump’s way of business and government is chaotic.

I’m afraid the essence of Trumpism is Donald Trump. Most of his issues have been on the agenda of conservatives and Republicans for generations: a robust economy via low taxes, minimal government regulation; very shy of international entanglements, always uphold law and order. Those platforms made political conservatives moderately successful in recent years, with some emphasis or exemptions. Different shades of traditional issues, often itself shaded by political figureheads, actually define populist, nationalist, socialist, etc. What brought Republicans into the White House was the very personality of Donald Trump. His narrow loss in 2020 was remarkable in that the issues he originally campaigned on – seasoned by the way he actually served as President (and as perceived by the media) – resulted in 12 million more supporters (significant considering a small segment of Republicans had walked away.) They didn’t flock to the polls because we needed a strong China policy, or easier/cheaper ways to produce oil, or even the promise of a wall between Mexico and America, it was because Donald Trump was promising those things which brought out 74,000,000 voters.

As Pat Buchanan observed,

The American electorate failed to perform its designated role in the establishment’s morality play. Nor was it repudiated by the people if, by Trumpism, one means ‘America First’ nationalism, securing our borders, using tariffs to bring back our manufacturing base, bidding goodbye to globalism, staying out of unnecessary wars and swearing off ideological crusades [11] 

For better or worse, because of Donald Trump, there will have to be a personality attached to a platform so it can be interpreted as populist, nationalist, conservative, and moderate as needed (Joe Biden was the anti-personality personality attached to a neo-socialist platform doing the same thing). If not Donald Trump, then it will have to be a candidate whose technique and can give a shine of vibrant hues to the party platform. Trumpism without Trump will have to be a different “ism,” because the real legacy of Donald Trump isn’t a movement but a style.






[6] “2020 Election Lesson: Trump’s Coalition Proved Durable,” byJoshua Jamerson, Julie Bykowicz, andChad Day, Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2020 




[10] Politically, what’s ahead does not frighten this writer. The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in a short statement to Congress, explained why a divided American government, with the three branches split among differing parties and ideologies, works best for the Republic: things move slowly, ensuring no radical transformation, alteration, or reversal that ultimately will not change the basic framework set out by the Founding Fathers (