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Game of Groans: How focus on Trump Taunts Hides GOP War on Middle Class, Workers


Game of Groans: How focus on Trump Taunts Hides GOP War on Middle Class, Workers

Juan Cole

The condition of late capitalism produces a press discourse strangely devoid of any mention of class. Last Thursday we had 10 rich white males on a debate stage seeking to represent the billionaire class (some 536 individuals in US, who have more wealth than the bottom half of the US population).


The one consistent message from both of the so-called Republican debates:

Cut all government spending except the military budget.

Start more wars.

The rest, as Professor Cole notes, is just distraction.


Don’t know what is running on your local TV stations but the GOP is running a very highly produced ad here espousing the virtues of being a Republican. A very lengthy ad, the message is thinly disguised, and easily distilled:

  • don’t fuck with defense spending or the (non-existent) taxes on the rich, and yes except for the military, all government is bad. All of their beautiful actors appear in up-scale settings and I don’t believe any black or brown-skinned faces are to be seen.

The local TV station is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group, one of the most sinister enemies of freedom and progress in this country. SBG has very deliberately acquired market domination and saturation in regions were big bucks are going to be spent on advertising in the next election farce cycle, and where traditionally Democratic voter bases are being cajoled, frightened, and gerrymandered into sending more of the GOP assholes to Washington.


What I’d like to see is an plausible argument that we are not done, cooked, over with. It’s hard to make one. A good focus would to be show that among the numerous, downward-ratcheting factors, some at least are reversible. But in general they look mighty solid. Here’s three.

  • Is there are anti-climate-change initiative in the works anywhere that has the slightest chance of inducing enough reduction to avert catastrophe? Of Obama’s recent gestures, I’ve seen no discussion along the lines of “will it work?”. Instead we get political handicapping. We seem to be in for events of significance on geological time-scales.

  • The state universities, those great post-war engines of upward movement, are essentially defunded already by their states, and are only going to become more so. They survive on tuition and federal grants. The tuition raises are much discussed because they are ending the hopes of millions. Less visible is the internal restructuring that is altering the educational landscape irrevocably. The effects will be essentially immediate.

  • The political coupling of the ultrawealthy with ultrarightist elements in the electorate has gone from success to success in the last few decades. Two-thirds of the states, both houses of congress, and the Supreme Court are essentially under the control of this alliance. They don’t even need the presidency. Attempts to find causes for optimism — for example, in the changing ethnic composition of the populace — have the feel of whistling past the graveyard. Will someone please step forward and explain how this is going to end, or at least change direction? There is no visible dynamic, for example, that counters the ongoing rush to ever-greater extremes of economic inequality, and it’s surely not going to come to a halt all by itself.

These are just facts. What fact-based analysis is going to lead us beyond the prevailing culture of mere complaint?


Leftist and progressive websites have made the case that lots of things are wrong, their arguments are persuasive. But nobody has any idea how to change it , no plan or approach. I don’t. Elect a politician to the presidency who says good things on some issues? Pollution has reached the edge of mass extinction, the Leaders of the Free World are trying to provoke Iraq Into letting itself be nuked, the two Koreas are about to go at it again, Sunni and Shiite Islamics are passionate enemies but are being driven together by crackpot US/European owar policies, “nature” is drying up and burning up and some animals are attacking back, the infrastructure is at such a state of disrepair that at any moment global electricity could shut down, taking the world currency system with it – the Big Brownout. Potable water is being privatized and commodified, food crops are being patent protected and genetically modified. Can a fee to breathe system be far behind? Life on Earth is becoming a pay toilet.

And the Spin Doctors of the Left diagnose but have seemingly nothing to prescribe.except to hope that continuing to out all the wrongdoings will cause the people to Wake Up which they seem disinclined to do.

Come on, folks! Become aware, hit the streets, demonstrate – and demand specifically what? Are Socialists, for example, ready with a transition team and plan to take over and manage the world through an all encompassing bloodshed free transition to a new way for human society to eat, drink, have a means of exchange? From each according to his or her abilities, to each according to needs sounds good, as does stop the use of carbon based energy and produce food for all without using petrochemicals – good goals, but how do people get there? Muddle through and hope it all comes out OK – is that the best human intelligence can come up with when people need something more envisionable and actually do-able.


Thank you for daring to cross this 3rd rail. Patriarchal religious affiliations ARE what’s holding our nation back. It was dangerous when Europeans were rigidly governed by a church-state set of patriarchs and it’s just as dangerous now. And by making clear WHO votes for these sadistic pro-rich baboons, you slice and dice away the ridiculous WE-idiom that attempts to project onto thinking, caring, conscious persons what their faith-based followers do out of blind obedience to 7th century precepts:

This material deserves to be repeated:

"They can’t appeal to that public on a platform of screwing them over for the sake of their donors (or in Donald Trump’s case, for his own sake).

"So then they play identity politics. They use a dog whistle to suggest they are the representatives of white people. They go after the 25% of Americans who are evangelicals and the 20% who are Catholics by promising to make the 16,000 women a year impregnated by rapists bear their rapists’ children.

"That’s right. The GOP platform supports the fatherly rights of the rapist element in society.

“About a fourth of the evangelicals aren’t impressed, and care about social issues, so they vote for the Democratic Party. The Catholics are fairly evenly split. Still, if you can bamboozle tens of millions of believers by promoting the rights of blastocysts over those of raped women, well that’s better than losing right off the bat because only the Koch Brothers like your economic ideas.”

In all likelihood these same individuals would and do support foreign wars without question and Uncle Sam’s spying on me and you, too!

And just to ensure that it won’t be “Lost in translation,” They does not = WE."


It is not just distraction to:

  1. College students who can’t afford a secondary education
  2. Young single mothers (or even married ones) who do not want, and cannot afford–financially or emotionally–another child
  3. Struggling fast food workers who cannot exist on the current minimum wage
  4. Seniors who can’t afford to lose S.S. to some privatized voucher program
  5. Black kids who would like to live past age 25


It’s very easy for white males to discredit “identity politics” but in doing so, they consign the same groups to the same 2nd class status. While it’s true that a class struggle is real, that in and of itself hardly speaks to women’s rights or Black Lives Matter or Hispanics’ wish to continue their lives where their families are rooted. And much else, too.


Years ago I dated an attorney and he pointed out that no one notices a building during its preparatory construction stages, and then one day: presto! It’s standing.

Similarly, the thousands of protest groups all over the world combined with the impacts of wars, growing refugee populations, and climate catastrophes are causing major distrust in government and current authority figures. Add to this, the evidence of the Piketty Study that wealth was purposely sent (i.e. engineered) to the top of the financial “food chain,” and the “multitudes” are seething and in many places close to combustion.

Vandana Shiva has explained that contrary to Monsanto and its influence over treaties like TPP and TIPP, it is the world’s millions of peasant farmers who know how to begin to reverse climate change through reconstituting the soil. Ancient practices can heal our earth… but they are being thwarted by the usual corporate oligarchs.

Many people, myself included, recognize that plans were made to beef up both surveillance and armed forces answerable to political figures who themselves bow down before global elites in anticipation of citizen blowback.

Still, when the hour summons a shift, it will happen; and I can state with certitude that THAT hour is sounding.

Every ocean wave appears to move backwards in order to gather momentum to “roll” forward. There is a political analogy to that process. All of the obvious rollbacks to civil liberties, basic welfare, and the trust that should exist between leaders and those governed… are underway. One can either identify with the wave as it rolls backwards or recognize that it’s acquiring an enormous forward momentum… one that will burst the chains that hold the paradigm of coercion, war, resource depletion, slavery, and social horrors in place.

Another world is not only possible… as Arundhati Roy put it… she can hear it whispering.


“What is the chief end of man?–to get rich. In what way?–dishonestly if we can; honestly if we must.” – Mark Twain-1871

The Gilded Age lives on…rich white men seek to undermine the workers and their families; the very workers on whose backs these greedy SOB-s made their money (even if inherited as their predecessors did the same to make their fortunes). The Rep. Klown Kar is rife with narcissists, sociopaths, and even psychopaths whose sole intent is self-aggrandizement to the detriment of the American people as well as on a worldwide scale. As long as their nests continue to be feathered, they could give a damn about the real world. These presidential wannabes love the limelight and the barrels of money they can access with impunity while “campaigning.” Not one has a vision about what good government looks like or how it operates…they just care about what government can do for them.


That’s well observed. The counterargument that you request has to be something along the lines of permaculture.

I don’t mean it’ll all be fine if we mulch our peas; there are a lot of things for a lot of people to do. I don’t mean that it will stop the train wreck, but you are correct: that won’t happen. National administrators already run the US particularly like CEOs running businesses that are to go under. It’s not as though they were not corrupt before, nor probably even that they were less so; the difference is that they no longer wish to invest in local corruptions, but take their ill winnings abroad. Look at the patterns in Argentina and Chile, which were less completely captive economies than Colombia or Honduras or pre-and-post-Sandinista Nicaragua or Haiti.

The good news is that these sorts of parasites have generally crashed their own systems faster and harder than they do the underlying systems that they damage: stocks before currency, currency before government, government before the land beneath it–though that has become sorely taxed, and we may again see some exceptions.

This is tough because most all of us feed from the economy that they will crash. We need to walk away from it piecemeal, in tiny, then small self-organizing groups. This probably sounds very far-fetched now to an American or European reader, but it might feel different the day that there is no food in the store or no water coming through the tap. Hopefully there will be spells of that as a temporary or partial condition broadly before it becomes thorough and permanent in many more areas.

The things we need to do to change the system are mostly the same as the things we need to do to brace ourselves. That includes learning to thrive without a global economy. And it includes informational and political organization to support that. That is all fairly unaffiliated, politically. But in case it seems apolitical, let us recall that it used to be called taking over the commons.


Absolutely right!

It’s not a distraction to the people who are directly affected by the upside-down set of policy priorities the Republicans espouse. But who among the GOP candidates gives a hoot about those who are at risk?

They all say they are opposed to “government spending,” but that’s just code for cutting programs that address your list of social issues–and more.

However, massive government spending apparently is OK when it comes to making the world’s largest military enterprise even bigger. The consistent refrain from the GOP would-be Presidential chorus: More War!

That’s why Donald Trump’s crass and boorish behavior is such a convenient distraction. What Trump says isn’t any different from what the rest of the Republican candidates believe. But if they can shift the focus to the outrageous Mr. Trump, maybe people won’t catch on to the idea that every one of them is singing the same song.


That was not even close to a debate. To me it was more like a political freak show.


That’s really profound and hopeful . . . thank you!


Buildings only appear to magically spring into completion to the awestruck bystanders who never saw all the planning, scheduling, cost estimating, drawing up of complex plans to ensure that the buildings don’t collapse into a pile of burning rubble on the very day the ribbon cutting ceremony is announced – even with all the structural engineered planning that goes into making these monuments to whatever, the constructions sometimes don’t work just like many best laid plans.

Just to point out an unfair demonization of a class of humans, it is not only women who struggle with all the economic and cultural things arrayed to make being a single parent difficult. Male single parents here and there raise children by themselves. Certainly there are more women than men in this particular fix, but WE are there and our struggles matter too. I did that, held down low paying jobs, struggled to find affordable day care, and WE who went through that had the additional burden of people believing that a guy who put the offspring in our care ahead of careers and sports wars and guns, and being more concerned about the effects poverty is having on children everywhere was somehow not entirely “manly.”

But I hope you’re right and all the people who still believe change is a-comin’ soon due to the re-emergence of the Cosmic Female Principle putting Our Heavenly Father back in his proper place will see their dream come true real soon. I personally think all people, men and women, white or brown, rich or poor are in for some tough sledding in deep burning shit real soon, but unlike the grudge holding people who believe they are not at least somewhat in part to blame, I fervently hope I’m wrong and do hope a New Age will come into being before I hit the dead end of my own road to everybody’s ruin, soon to come.