Regarding the article “Defeating Trump will Not Solve Much”
In mid-stream, I’ve stopped sending around my opinion on the upcoming US elections. I should stick to topics which
relate more directly to the church in Eastern Europe and the Far East. It's still here on the webpage.
Joe Biden and his DNC (Democratic National Committee) may indeed be the “less evil” option; my friend Mark Elliott’s preference is probably correct. As I write, there is only one significant arms agreement still in force. And perhaps the peoples of Iran, Iraq, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, China, Russia and even Germany will be able to breathe more easily if the DNC is allowed to take over the reins of government. In the US system, third-party candidates do not have a ghost of a chance on the national level. US democracy is broken and the world must make-do as best it can.
William Yoder, 22 August 2020
Defeating Trump will Not Solve Much
A response to Kentucky professor
Note: Mark Elliott`s piece appeared in Kentucky’s “Lexington Herald Leader” on July 23 and 27, 2020. It can be found at the bottom of my response here.
L a d u s h k I n -- Prof. Mark Elliott is too optimistic regarding the redeeming value of a Democratic victory in November. At least since the days of Bill Clinton, both parties are serving the interests of the top 1%. See for ex. the CARES Act of March 2020. FDR’s New Deal is long gone; the unions, when still around in the private sector, are essentially toothless. Both mainstream parties reject the claim that “every billionaire is a policy failure”. The two parties have some differences in ideology, but in economic terms, they’re sitting on the same bandwagon.
The Australian Caitlin Johnstone wrote on Feb. 12: “The belief that everything will be fine once we get rid of Trump is more dangerous than Trump himself, because that belief guarantees you won’t work to cure the disease once one of the symptoms is removed.” Tragically, just getting rid of Trump is only a band-aid.
Chris Hedges wrote two years ago: “Donald Trump is the result of a long process of political, cultural, and social decay. He is a product of our failed democracy. . . . The problem is not Trump. It is a political system, dominated by corporate power and the mandarins of the two major political parties, in which we don’t count.”
The Democrats have mutated into 1950s-era McCarthyites while stirring the volatile cauldron of xenophobia in their thoroughly transparent attempt to bring down Trump. They have accepted major global tension and a shift away from the USA in order to achieve very finite, national political objectives. May the deeds of Rachel Maddow, Adam Schiff and others be remembered in infamy! On Twitter on August 4, Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) claimed it was Trump who bungled a perfectly legitimate attempt to rid the world of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro.
Alarmingly, Mark Elliott appears to define the badly-needed efforts at global peacemaking as “cozying up” to Putin. He insinuates that mutual admiration between a wannabe and a real dictator is the motivation behind Trump’s feeble one-man attempts to achieve an understanding with Russia and North Korea.
In a piece in Russia’s “RT” on June 22, Vladivostok professor Artyom Lunkin claimed that Trump is above all a pragmatist. “His ideology is the absence of one, which is, incidentally, one explanation for his affinity with Vladimir Putin, another non-ideological world leader.” The US-president is “about money rather than pure power. Trump’s priority is America’s wealth. He is much less concerned about keeping America as the world’s hegemonic power.” Lunkin concludes: “Ironically, the re-election of Trump could be about the only chance to avoid a new Cold War – perhaps even World War III.”
Lunkin sees ideology as a highly lethal ingredient of both cold and hot wars. Ideologues believe in the moral superiority of their cause; they’re out-and-about in the world to conquer evil with their own “humanitarian” brand of virtue. That makes Trump an outsider in his own party, for actors such as Pompeo, Pence and Ted Cruz promote a foreign policy driven by ideology. I personally believe though that Lunkin underestimates the amount of mischief to which capitalists are capable.
So where do we go from here? In his TED lecture of 2011, Shanghai businessman Eric X. Li reported on the highly inflexible nature of the US order. Despite the crying need, nothing major has happened in the US regarding affordable healthcare, education and housing. Not even the quaint slave-era electoral college can be given the boot! Vested interests call the shots. Elsewhere, Li states that the responsiveness of government to the needs of its citizens is a better measure for determining a system’s merit than an official status as “democratic”.
Ex-governor Jesse Ventura rails against a “two-party dictatorship” in the US. In December 1970, the late evangelist Tom Skinner warned against “people who, in the smoke-filled rooms of political conventions, nominate who they want and at election time issue two of them to us to decide which one we like”. Two political machines agreeing on a common candidate may not happen frequently in the USA, but the two machines have agreed on a common economic policy. Now even their foreign policy is the same; US-democracy was on the ropes long before the days of Donald Trump.
Very recently, the renown leftist Noam Chomsky has been pushing for the election of Joe Biden. His group’s reasoning: Our vote for Biden is to be understood strictly as a vote against Trump. Chomsky’s group does not endorse the infirm Biden for the office of president. There is hardly a more apt illustration for the lack of choice within a presidential system.
Europe has the parliamentary system, not the presidential one. Germany’s proportional representation has your party in parliament as soon as you garner 5% of the vote – not 51%. Coalitions between third, fourth and fifth parties in Congress might not bring about paradise, but they would be a step in the right direction. They could do much in shaping a response to the needs of the working class and bringing about the demise of long-term jobs paying at the hamburger-flipper level. Note the wages at Amazon and Wal-Mart. And they could bring us greater international peace. Elections which offer the voter true alternatives and choices could again become feasible.
William Yoder, Ph.D.
Ladushkin, Kaliningrad region, 9 August 2020
A journalistic release for which the author is solely responsible. It is informational in character and does not express the official position of any church organisation. This release may be reprinted free-of-charge if the source is cited. Release #20-16, 874 words.
BY MARK R. ELLIOTT
JULY 23, 2020 01:28 PM (It will be in the print edition July 27, 2020.)
I taught European and Russian history for 35 years, with cautionary lectures on totalitarianism as regular fare in my Western Civilization courses. Sometimes I assigned my college students “They Thought They Were Free” (Milton Meyer) on the dangers of conformism and the herd instinct as contributors to Germany’s descent from democracy to Nazism. Sometimes I had students read “Darkness at Noon” (Arthur Koestler) on police-state tactics of intimidation and violence as instruments of Soviet terror and repression.
On numerous occasions over the years I lectured on the curse of 20th-century fascist and Nazi ethnocentrism which seduced millions of Italians and Germans into believing in their racial superiority. The attendant warped patriotism and grievous perversion of national pride contributed to the untold suffering of World War II.
On a brighter note I also lectured admiringly on Vaclav Havel, the Czech dissident who refused to succumb to the Big Lie of communist propaganda and who ended up in jail for his insistence upon upholding the truth. With the end of Moscow’s control of its East European satellites in 1989, Havel’s unimpeachable moral stature catapulted him from a prison cell to the Czech presidential palace in 15 months!
On a recent morning walk I was listening to an early chapter of Ken Follett’s novel, “Winter World,” this part an account of Hitler’s 1933 destruction of German democracy through violence and threats of violence against dissenters in general and members of the country’s Reichstag in particular. Not long ago I also listened to Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here” (1935), the nightmare tale of an American president who subverts Congress, the courts, and the media as prelude to a successful fascist coup.
Whatever our problems, I have never believed such could happen here in the U.S.— that is until Donald Trump became president. My hope for almost four years has centered on the corrective of voting America’s most dangerous president out of office. And that is still my hope. But it has been shaken of late by an action and an interview by the ever-bombastic, ever-bellicose Trump. On his behest, protesters in Portland, Oregon, are being arrested by unidentified federal agents in unmarked vans, astoundingly including border patrolmen hundreds of miles from any U.S. border. And a July 20 Herald-Leader headline read “Trump won’t commit to accepting election results if he loses.” Needless to say, the unwarranted arrests and Trump’s threat not to abide by the outcome of a presidential election remind any student of 20th century history of previous subversions of democracy in myriad European states, leading to lost freedoms and a world of woe and loss of life.
What possesses an American president to repeatedly attack its allies and cozy up to authoritarians and dictators like Russia’s Putin, North Korea’s Kim Yong Il, and Turkey’s Erdogen? The answer is, from what Trump says and does, he is a wannabe dictator himself. Did Trump get the idea to deploy incognito feds to arrest dissidents in Portland from Putin’s deployment of unidentified troops in Crimea at an early point in Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea, claiming they were not Russian troops?
The first time I ever participated in a political protest was in 1970 in my first year of graduate studies as part of a University of Kentucky student demonstration following the death of Kent State Vietnam War protesters. Almost half a century later it took our nation’s worst president to spur me to renewed action. I have been glad I could voice my opposition to Trump when this sorry excuse for a leader came to speak at Eastern Kentucky University in 2018 and at Rupp Arena in 2019. If we do not dump our “divider-in-chief” in November I fear four more years of this clueless, arrogant, self-proclaimed “stable genius” will be the death knell of American democracy.