I was originally going to write something else about Antonio Negri’s political philosophy tonight. But today, I’ve mostly been thinking about Donald Trump. Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination.
So there won’t be a contested convention. There won’t be a race for more delegates. There won’t be a desperate gamble among the respectably-faced conservative elite of America to hide the ugly truth of their last decade of anti-Obama political organizing.
There’ll just be Donald Trump screaming about Mexicans, Muslims, walls, leftists, Clinton conspiracy theories. Donald Trump whipping his foot soldiers into a frenzy at every rally. I mean, it’s only a matter of time until someone gets killed at a Trump rally, and his supporters will probably be proud of that murder.
Trump himself would probably be proud of that murder. This is where we are in the United States today. The republic that began the modern wave of democratic revolution* will fall to the authoritarianism of Donald Trump.
* Flawed though it was, corrupted by slavery and the founding genocides of its institutions. The United States was still a politically revolutionary institution, given that every Western power was a monarchy whose parliaments were rubber stamps, aristocratic drinking clubs, or rotten boroughs at best.
Barack Obama jokes at the Correspondents’ Association Dinner about being the last President of the republic. And I’m kind of afraid he might be right.
I’m not exactly adding anything new to the landscape of reflections on the meaning of Trumpism, what that means for America. There are some thinkers who seem to have peculiarly original angles on Trump – how he rises from the geography of New York itself.
That will be interesting to think about when the full essay comes out, given my own thinking about the power of urban existence to free people. But that's for later.
Right now, I’m just kind of afraid. Because Donald Trump does have a serious chance of becoming President of the United States of America. A serious chance of controlling the most powerful single military force in the world, including its nuclear arsenal.
He is open about the fact that he knows little to nothing of governance, legislation, or policy-making. He’s openly an authoritarian – he will rule only by his will, not just a President but a Leader.
He believes in crushing principled opposition. He genuinely is a racist xenophobe who’s harboured ambitions of ruling America with an iron fist. He’s a bigger threat to American democracy than even the W administration. That regime at least permitted a space to dissent. I doubt Trump would be so charitable.
Given how the electoral choice is shaping up, Trump has the advantage. Hillary Clinton is a weaker opponent of Donald Trump than Bernie Sanders would have been. She argues rationally, speaks pragmatically and with knowledge.
And she’s such a creature of an obviously corrupt institutionalized establishment that she can’t inspire the same fervour that Sanders can. For her to triumph over Trump, she has to hope that fear of Trump can overcome the loathing of her in the progressive movements of the country. I’m frankly not sure if she can do that, simply because Sanders’ critiques ring so true.
Trump has done America a favour in a particular sense. He’s ripped off the veneer of respectability around reactionary ideas that dominate the American right wing. He openly speaks racism about black people, Hispanic people, and Muslim people.
He embraces this open racism, and so do his followers in middle-class white America who are growing more resentful by the day. I’m thankful for his honesty.
But for the safety of the world, he has to be defeated and accept defeat in November. His followers have already shown that they’re willing to do violence in Trump’s name. It may become lethal violence before the election season is over.
It could very well be that lethal violence in Donald Trump’s name will turn on the new Democratic President to defeats him in this November’s election.
I’m afraid for the United States of America.