The firing of Steve Bannon is in my opinion the most significant event to happen during the Trump administration thus far. Moreover, it will have massive reverberations across the U.S. political spectrum for years and years to come. I wasn’t planning on writing today, but this news is so incredibly significant I find myself with little choice.
Taking a step back, part of the reason I was immediately able to see through the Trump con was due to my upbringing in New York City. The guy was constantly in the news my entire life, so I had a pretty decent understanding of where he was really coming from and what makes him tick. The mindset of your typical NYC-based billionaire real estate developer is filled with all sorts of perspectives and priorities, but thoughts of populism are not amongst them.
Trump used populism to get elected, and then as soon as he won, immediately appointed some of the most destructive oligarchs imaginable to run his administration. The reason I warned about this incessantly at the time, is because I learned the lesson from the Obama administration. People = policy, and the people Trump was elevating were almost unanimously awful. Irrespective of what you think of Bannon, him being out means Wall Street and the military-industrial complex is now 100% in control of the Trump administration. Prepare for an escalation of imperial war around the world and an expansion of brutal oligarchy.
The removal of Bannon is the end of even a facade of populism. This is now the Goldman Sachs Presidency with a thin-skinned, unthinking authoritarian as a figurehead. Meanwhile, guess who’s still there in addition to the Goldman executives? Weed obsessed, civil asset forfeiture supporting Jefferson Sessions. The Trump administration just bacame ten times more dangerous than it was before. With the coup successful, Trump no longer needs to be impeached.
The media took Donald Trump, cut his balls off, and handed them to Goldman Sachs.— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) August 18, 2017
Here’s another prediction. Watch the corporate media start to lay off Trump a bit more going forward. Rather than hysterically demonize him for every little thing, corporate media will increasingly give him more of the benefit of the doubt. After all, a Presidency run by Goldman Sachs and generals is exactly what they like. Trump finally came out of the closet as the anti-populist oligarch he is, and the results won’t be pretty.
Corporate media got the scalp it wanted, so the hysterical criticisms of him will die down. This is not to say I think the media will become pro-Trump, it just means the obsessive and aggressive propaganda will be dialed back considerably. Trump is now inline, and he will be rewarded by the establishment for that. He will learn that the more he gets with the program, the easier his life will be and the more secure his power. He is merely being conditioned, and my forecast is that Trump will gladly embrace the worst parts of the establishment going forward. Why? Because Trump’s true worldview fits in way more with Goldman Sachs and the military-industrial complex than with populism. It always has. The whole thing was just an act to get elected. Firing Bannon is just Trump coming home to who he always was. A ruthless oligarch.
Now I’m going to make a few predictions about the political environment going forward. First, I think right-populism or the “new right,” is deeply damaged and this presents a huge opportunity for left-leaning populists if they are smart about it. Let’s begin by discussing why this is so problematic for the “new right.”
At this point, something has become undeniable. Trump voters who supported him based on the idea that he would bring forth an agenda of economic populism got played. I understand that many other people just voted for him as a middle finger to the system, but for the true believers who thought he had their backs, it’s now long past the time to pack up your bags. I don’t say this out of pleasure, I genuinely hoped he would push forth an agenda of economic populism, but now we know for certain this is never going to happen. That much is pretty undeniable.
Nevertheless, just because something is undeniable, doesn’t mean it won’t be denied. Too many people have invested way too much in Trump to admit they got played. Sure, there will be outrage for a few days and people will swear to be “off the Trump train,” but as soon as the next wedge social issue gets played up by the media, they’ll be right back onboard. I expect excuses from “new right” leaders to come within a few days, or weeks at the most. Remember, many people built up their entire careers and public profiles by cheerleading Trump into office. Most of these people are egomaniacs. What does an egomaniac do when confronted with information that they got something wrong? Do they publicly admit their error and give credit to those who voiced skepticism, or will they figure out a way to change the subject in order to maintain their relevance and position amongst their fans? I think you know the answer.
As such, right-populism is at a crossroads and this is what I expect to happen. The same people who so passionately convinced people to get on the “Trump train” will be far more concerned with maintaining as much of their social media status as possible, versus doing what’s right for the country. There are enough unthinking fans out there to allow this to happen. That said, the movement will be harmed immensely because enough intelligent people will see that many of these new right pundits aren’t who they say they are. The credibility gap will widen and widen, as it should. Trump was a fake and if you were so easily tricked by Trump, why should we trust you on any other subject?
Right-populism is now very much discredited, as its leader has been shown to be nothing more than a narcissistic con-man. This will not be an easy hole to dig out of, yet with some deep reflection, my hope is a new right populism can emerge that is more in tune with Rand Paul than Donald Trump. That’d be nice, but I have my doubts.
As such, an enormous opportunity has opened up for left-leaning economic populism. I already predicted this wave in a piece a few weeks ago titled,Politics of the Next 4 Years – Part 1 (Rise of the ‘Dirtbag Left’). Here’s some of what I wrote:
This faction of leftism is waging war against Clinton neoliberal frauds and Trump’s fake populism at the exact same time. Not an easy thing to do, but I think there’s a huge and growing unsatisfied demand for such a perspective.
A lot of you will discount the appeal of this movement because many of its most high-profile members are unabashed socialists. This is a big mistake. Remember, Donald Trump won the Presidency not because he was especially great or loved, but because his opponent was terrible, he talked in populist terms, and people just wanted to give a middle finger to the political establishment and corporate media. If that’s right, what’s to stop a movement from winning power if it promises to flip the bird to both Trump and Clinton while also making you laugh? Not much.
I think the “DirtBag Left” will catch the Trump team completely off guard over the next few years. The reason Trump’s prospects look pretty good right now for a second term is because there’s no real organized opposition to him. By real organized opposition, I mean a movement driven by actual ideas and passion that is also working on a plan to run a competitive candidate in 2020. The current “resistance” consists of Hillary donors, neocons, the corporate media and elements of the deep state. While Trump complains about this opposition constantly, he doesn’t realize how good he has it. The American public hates those factions more than they hate Trump, and nobody wants to vote for that discredited garbage in 2020.
If the genuine left is smart, it will take a step back and see this for the gigantic opening it is. Lots of Trump voters are now up for grabs, and if they can come up with a genuine message of economic populism that avoids the typical leftist pitfalls — such as supporting misguided young people dressing up like ninjas, carrying flags and hurling rocks at people trying to give a talk — the opportunity to create a populist movement of immense national significance is there. People across the country are craving it, but they want nothing to do with antifa, political correctness, or aggression against free speech. Noam Chomsky gets it, and I hope others heed his words.
As such, here’s what I would recommend to any burgeoning populist movement wanting to unite the country against oligarchy, as opposed to just becoming a leftist echo chamber. It is the exact same thing I suggested to Trump, but he obviously didn’t listen.
Election 2016 has been extremely bittersweet for me. On the positive side, through both the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump grassroots movements, we have seen clear proof that a huge number of Americans accurately understand that the current system is totally rigged and simply not working for them. These people didn’t migrate toward these two candidates for some tweaks to the system here and there, their supporters want full scale paradigm level change.
As such, rather than dwelling on the differences between these two populist movements, let’s consider some of the areas where they overlap.
1. Trade — Opposition to NAFTA and current “trade” deals such as TPP, TTIP, and TISA have been central to both the Sanders and Trump campaigns.
2. War and militarism — Whether you believe Trump is sincere or not, opposition to Obama/Clinton interventionist overseas wars were key talking points for both Trump and Sanders.
3. The system is rigged — The painful acknowledgment that the U.S. economic system is a rigged scam that fails to reward hard work, and is more akin to a parasitic, predatory oligarchy with very limited social mobility, has been a key campaign theme for both Trump and Sanders. The economy is increasingly dominated by near-monoploy giants who relentlessly push for more power and more profits irrespective of the cost to society, whether that cost be war, poverty or social unrest.
4. Money in politics — The rigged economic system described above aggregates wealth into an increasingly small number of hands. Those hands then buy off politicians and rig the political process. A rigged economy and rigged political system perpetually feeds itself and endlessly grows at the expense of the public like a terminal cancer. Both Trump and Sanders emphasized this problem.
5. Rule of law is dead — Sanders focused on Wall Street bankers, while Trump focused on Hillary and her inner circle of cronies, but the overall point is the same. Rich and powerful oligarchs are above the law. We all know this, but Washington D.C. refuses to do anything about.
Populism isn’t dead in America, but right populism as it exists today is. I just hope the next iteration is a lot more genuine, and a lot more sane.