Chris Hedges, quite predictably, looks at the impeachment drama underway in Washington with a "pox on both their houses" attitude. When it comes to corruption he considers Democrats and Republicans of a piece. That sentiment, however, isn't the interesting part of his latest essay. The intriguing bit is Hedges' assessment of the chaos Trump could trigger on his way out.
Trump ...will not go quietly into this good night. He will attempt to bring the whole rotten edifice down with him. And he may succeed.
“The Democrats thrive on silencing and intimidating his supporters, like YOU, Friend,” reads a fundraising appeal for Trump that was sent out immediately after the impeachment inquiry was announced this week. “They want to take YOUR VOTE away. President Trump wants to know who stood with him when it mattered most.”
...Trump’s rhetoric, as the pressure mounts, will become ever more incendiary. He will, as he has in the past, openly incite violence against the Democratic leadership and a press he brands as “the enemy of the people.”
There is no shortage of working-class Americans who feel, with justification, deeply betrayed and manipulated by ruling elites. Their ability to make a sustainable income has been destroyed. They are trapped in decaying and dead-end communities. They see no future for themselves or their children. They view the ruling elites who sold them out with deep hostility.
Trump, however incompetent, at least expresses this rage. And he does so with a vulgarity that delights his base. I suspect they are not blind to his narcissism or even his corruption and incompetence. But he is the middle finger they flip up at all those oily politicians like the Clintons who lied to them in far more damaging ways than Trump.
...“People no longer voted for candidates they liked or were excited by,” Matt Taibbi writes in “Insane Clown President: Dispatches From the 2016 Circus.” “They voted against the candidates they hated. At protests and marches, the ruling emotions were disgust and rage. The lack of idealism, and especially the lack of any sense of brotherhood or common purpose with the other side (i.e., liberals and conservatives unable to imagine a productive future with each other, or even to see themselves as citizens of the same country), was striking.”
Impeaching Trump would be seen by his supporters as an effort to take away this primal, if ineffectual, form of defiance. It is yet another message to the disenfranchised, especially those in the white working class, that their lives, their concerns, their hopes and their voices do not matter. This huge segment of the population, as Trump is aware, is heavily armed. There are more than 300 million firearms in the hands of U.S. civilians, including 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles and 86 million shotguns.
...Trump, fighting for his political life, will use rhetorical gasoline to set it alight. He will demonize his opponents as the embodiment of evil. He will seek to widen the divisions and antagonisms, especially around race. He will brand his political opponents as irredeemable enemies and traitors. He will demand omnipotence, the power of a dictator. Many of those for whom he is a cult leader will seek to give it to him. For when the magical aura of Trump’s power is attacked, those in the Trump cult feel attacked. He is an extension of them. Trump embodies the yearning by millions of Americans, especially those in the Christian right, for a cult leader.Hedges' culprit, as ever, the forces of corporatism.
Our social, cultural, economic and political crisis created a demagogue like Trump. These forces will grow more virulent if Trump is impeached. The longer we fail to confront and name the corporate forces responsible for the misery of over half the U.S. population and our broken democracy, the more the disease of cultism will spread. It was the seizure of power by corporations that vomited up Trump.
If we do not succeed in overthrowing corporate power, the explosive devices mailed to Trump critics and leaders of the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, along with George Soros, James Clapper and CNN, allegedly by Cesar Sayoc Jr., an ex-stripper and fanatic Trump supporter who was living out of his van, will become an acceptable form of political expression. Such assassination attempts will, if left unchecked, eventually succeed. Anarchic lawlessness and tit-for-tat forms of political murder will swiftly turn the United States into a failed and terrifying state.