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Saturday, April 6, 2019


As we chat about this or that candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, I keep thinking about the fact that I live in a country where 62,980,160 adult citizens voted for Donald J, Trump in 2016, and in all likelihood, more than 60,000,000 will vote for him in 2020.  Maybe he will lose.  Dear God, I hope so.  But even if he does, those 60,000,000 people will still be here, disappointed, inconsolable, and like as not armed to the teeth.


s. wallerstein said...

It is not clear that all the people who voted for Trump in 2016 will be inconsolably disappointed if he loses in 2020. I have no idea what percentage of those almost 63 million Trump voters are hardcore Trump supporters, but given that most people do not have strong political convictions (as you do), it's a safe bet that many of them will not mourn Trump's possible defeat.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Wonderful! So maybe we will, should we win, only have twenty or thirty million Americans, many heavily armed, who think the System has stolen their birthright. I think I have lived too long.

s. wallerstein said...

That 20 or 30 million heavily armed Americans have been around for a long time, since the 60's at least. They voted for Nixon, then for Reagan, then for Bush 1 and 2, now for Trump. I imagine that when Obama, the first African-American president was elected, they also thought that the system had stolen their birthright, even though for us Obama was a corporate liberal. Stick around: your learning and wisdom are needed.

s. wallerstein said...

In any case, if the Democratic candidate is Sanders or Warren and if that candidates wins and they have a majority in congress, we can suppose that that Democratic president will take New Deal type measures and those New Deal type measures will improve the lot of those 20 or 30 million heavily armed Americans. If your kids need to see an orthodontist and you've never had the money to pay for one, that the new government is offering free orthodontic care for all children is a very convincing argument in favor of the new government. A New Deal type government can win over rightwing voters in a way that corporate liberals cannot.

Anonymous said...

Three percent of gun owners own 50% of the guns--if this is any consolation.

Jerry Fresia said...

Following wallertsein's thinking, those tens of million bad guys were around in 2008 when Obama was elected and I don't remember too many of us wringing our hands about their role in American life. The future looked rosy. Then after 8 years of Obama, a study produced by Princeton/Harvard revealed that 63% of Americans didn't have $500 dollars in the bank to cover an unexpected cost (

A good number of the 63% voted for Trump, often complaining about the impact of NAFTA and such all the while HRC and Dem establishment types, like Obama, were continuing to trumpet the glory of even broader trade agreements. (Given the campaign, HRC had difficulty making up her mind).

At this point, I would argue, establishment Dems are as menacing a presence (re 2020) as the tens of millions, without power, who love Trump today but who, if they had a decent job and a few thousand in the bank would love him a whole lot less tomorrow.

(Note that Obama made news yesterday by saying that he worries about the "rigidity" of "progressives" who create a "'circular firing squad,' where you start shooting at your allies because one of them has strayed from purity on the issues." Compare that thinking with Les Leopold who after studying 8,000 respondents, finds that the "Social Liberal, Fiscal Conservatives represent only 3.8% of the electorate while Left Populists account for 44.6 percent. MSNBC hasn't as yet brought on Leopold to make his point, "Beware of the moderate.")

LFC said...


The way progressive change tends to happen in the U.S. political system, to the extent it does happen, is through coalitions and bringing together divergent interests (see the recent public lands bill, passed by huge majorities in both houses of Congress and, I believe, signed by Trump). That's an unusual case in terms of the degree of support it received, but it illustrates the broader pt that calling establishment Dems as great a menace as Trumpism is a recipe for defeat. Obama was at least open to pressure from the left. Trump isn't on most issues. A politics of aggressive factionalism will simply help assure Trump's re-election.

s. wallerstein said...


Isn't it possible that times have changed as has the U.S. political system and that post 2008 crisis of capitalism and post Trump, the political center doesn't make it with most voters and that to beat Trump, the Democrats need to be as outrageous as he is, except outrageous from the left?

Isn't it possible that the political game has changed? That Trump, who may not have read any political sociology texts, but obviously is an astute reader of mass sentiment, was the first to sense that change, while Hillary, Obama and other corporate Democrats are still playing the game pre-2008? Let's give Bernie credit for sensing the change a lot earlier than most too.

Jerry Fresia said...


I don't disagree about working with divergent coalitions; in fact, a "far left" and far right coalition might be in the offing. At least there would be something of a class analysis from the point of view of people living at the bottom half or so. With establishment Dems, their class analysis turns on the interests of the oligarchs. In 2008, the "ideological pure" leftists played a key role in putting Obama into office, only to see him deny probably the greatest coalition organized around "change" since the 60s - and why? Because he failed miserably in challenging the ideological purity of neoliberals. My point is simply this: the extremism of the Obama-Biden years gave us Trump. I'll vote for Biden over Trump any day but that choice really would make the second time farcical. said...

Our poor Prof. Wolff seems to be tiring of these debates. Not to say despairing. Hope is ever possible, notwithstanding the current crop of Democratic morons (Sanders and Buttigeig exempt). I'm rather impressed by Joe Biden's recent cosmetic surgery---far fewer crow-lines, though he still looks a bit stretched.

Anonymous said...

s. wallerstein's observation (at 10:06) reminded me of Sheldon Wolin's depiction of this: "Nietzsche's politics is rarely occupied with such standard political topics as state structure, rule of law, rights, or justice: with the ideals applicable to all members. It is, instead, obsessed with singularity, with heroic action, and takes the form of thought-deeds that attack, expose, and subvert the establishment's modes of thought (e.g., philosophy and theology), as well as its forms of social morality and aesthetics."

Jerry Fresia said...

Indeed, mea culpa! Plus, it's the same debate.

s. wallerstein said...


The left can learn a lot from Nietzsche.

The left is always explaining itself, justifying itself before the establishment, before the New York Times as if they unconsciously believe that the Times and all it represents is really the voice of rationality and wisdom and they (the left) are wayward children.

Nietzsche knows that the minute you accept that your opponent is the voice of reason you lose the battle for hegemony and thus, Nietzsche never apologies, never explains himself, never looks back (the expression "don't look back" comes from Bob Dylan, another genius of successful rebellion).

Neither Lenin nor Fidel Castro nor Martin Luther King ever yields a fraction of inch to the hegemony of the other side. No successful political rebel political leader ever does.

Jerry Fresia said...


Instructive comment!!

Amarnath said...

wallerstein: Great comment. That is why Murdoch's news media hates AOC, the unapologetic.

s. wallerstein said...


AOC: great example!!