Thursday, January 21, 2021

The End of a Performative Presidency

 

At noon yesterday, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. For the first time in 152 years, the outgoing President was absent from the event. Most people weren’t surprised by this: after all, it wouldn’t have fit in with the image that the outgoing President has created for himself over the last six years, an image in which he is always a winner.

Since the beginning of his term, a lot of Donald Trump’s critics have been calling him a transactional President – someone who was hired to enact certain policies by a base which didn’t care about his personal character, or his failure to act in a way that Americans were used to thinking of as “presidential,” so long as he did the jobs he was hired to do.

But if you compare the degree of adoration which his base showed toward him – especially in the last eleven weeks of his presidency – with the amount of progress he actually made toward enacting his promised policies, that picture just doesn’t hold up. If it was really a matter of a transaction – if the adoration was given in exchange for things like a border wall – then the fact that only 15 miles of wall were actually built should have dimmed the enthusiasm of the MAGA people.

Trump’s foreign policy should look similarly disappointing to a level-headed observer. He may brag about being the first president in a long time who hasn’t started any new wars, but we shouldn’t forget the time that Trump almost started a war with Iran by assassinating General Soleimani, or the time that he vetoed legislation by Congress to get the United States out of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

If need be, I could run the gamut with the other planks of the Trump platform and their lackluster implementations in the real world. A trade deficit which has gotten bigger over the last four years. A Supreme Court justice who sided with Planned Parenthood within three months of being sworn in. And so forth.

The point I am trying to get at here is that Trump is not a transactional president. That is to say, you can’t explain the difference in emotional impact between him and the Bushes in terms of what he delivered to his base, because what he delivered to his base wasn’t all that different from what the Bushes delivered.

To me, it seems more accurate to describe Donald Trump as a performative president. Just like when he hosted The Apprentice, Trump was all about content-free emotion, excitement, and enthusiasm. The presidency just gave him a bigger stage and a bigger audience.

And what an excellent audience it was! As long as Trump gave the appearance of caring about the Deplorables and the things that they cared about, and as long as he made a show of beating up on the Deplorables’ enemies – the press, the swamp, Democrats, or whoever – the audience would cheer him on. That the fighting was often as fake as WWE did not detract from the emotional appeal of the show.

It didn’t matter how little of the wall got built, as long as Trump performed the roll of wall builder – for instance, by dragging Congress into a 35-day government shutdown that ended with his side getting absolutely nothing. His base reacted to this abject defeat, as they did to so many others, by continuing to yammer: “Trump! He fights!” as if they hadn’t noticed that the wall wasn’t getting built.

This also explains why Trump’s base took his re-election loss so badly. Even in fake wrestling, you can’t win if you’re not in the ring. And even a political party unable or unwilling to notice when its leader fails to enact its preferred policies will still notice if its leader fails to get re-elected.

And thats a serious problem, because within the Trumpist mythos, failure to win is the one thing that can never happen. Churchill had his “blood, sweat, and tears;” Kennedy had “Ask not what your country can do for you,” and Trump had, well, Trump had this:

“We’re going to win. We’re going to win so much. We’re going to win at trade, we’re going to win at the border. We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning, you’re going to come to me and go ‘Please, please, we can’t win anymore.’ You’ve heard this one. You’ll say ‘Please, Mr. President, we beg you sir, we don’t want to win anymore. It’s too much. It’s not fair to everybody else.’”

When Trump won the 2016 election in a squeaker, he called it a landslide. When he lost the 2020 election in a not-quite-so-close squeaker, he called it a “sacred landslide.”

And his supporters, for the most part, believed him. Frequenters of betting sites like PredictIt might have noticed that, even a month after the voting was over, people were still wagering non-zero sums of money on a Trump win. Trump’s campaign brought in millions of dollars in donations during this period. And for hundreds of thousands of people, “Stop-The-Steal” rallies briefly became the mainstay of their social lives.

After one of the rallies turned into a riot, many of the rioters were later tracked down by the FBI by means of the selfies they took inside the Capitol building. If it seems to you that filling the internet with selfies taken while committing a crime is pretty good evidence of an inability to imagine scenarios that don’t end in “winning,” well then, you’re not alone.

Then, on the day of the inauguration itself, America was treated to the grand finale of QAnon. Ever since October of 2017, millions of Trumpists – including two who just got themselves elected to Congress – have been touting their faith in a conspiracy theory cobbled together out of the postings of an anonymous 4-Chan user known as “Q Clearance Patriot.”

I won’t burden you with a detailed explanation of what the QAnon people believe: you can find that information elsewhere, if you have the need. Suffice it to say that their belief system’s final denouement – the QAnon faithful tuning into the Biden inauguration in the serene confidence that they were about to witness The Storm, or in other words, that Trump’s election loss and all his subsequent floundering was just a ploy to get his enemies gathered up in one place so that the mass arrests could begin – was uncannily similar to the situation that faced the Millerites in 1844, on the morning of the Great Disappointment.

For those of you who don’t know that bit of American history, 22 October 1844 was the very last day in a year-and-a-half long period, supposedly foretold in the Book of Daniel, during which followers of Reverend William Miller had identified a number of possible dates for the Second Coming of Christ. So naturally, once all the other possibilities were exhausted and only 22 October remained, thousands upon thousands of Millerites gathered at dawn on hilltops across the United States in the utmost surety that the end had finally come.

But as it turned out, the Millerites didn’t get to witness the end of the world. And the QAnon people didn’t get to witness the end of the Deep State. They just saw the end of a performative presidency, and not much more.

I do not regret voting for Trump. He was a better man for the job than either Clinton or Biden. His foreign policy was erratic, but on the whole it was less bellicose than Obama’s. His judicial nominees won’t restore the Constitution of 1787, but I don’t expect them to go whole hog on abolishing freedom of speech, the press, and religion, the way that Hillary Clinton’s would have.

Once you admit that Trump’s presidency was, in many ways, a disappointment, it’s only natural to want things to turn out better next time. Which is why a lot of people on the intellectual end of the Right are already trying to plan out the Republican party’s search for a new leader.

One of my regular readers often replies to my posts with his musings about what America’s patriots could accomplish if we had a presidential candidate with the virtues of Donald Trump, but not his vices. And yet I wonder if such a thing is even possible.

After all, Donald Trump was a man of talent – not a talent for governing, but a talent for reading a crowd and telling it what it wanted to hear. Back in 2016, he didn’t just win the White House – he flipped states that hadn’t voted Republican since the 1980s.

And he did it by talking like a fourth grader. It’s comforting to think that this might be a coincidence, and that finding someone who shares Trump’s appeal but speaks with the intelligence and maturity of a normal president is simply a personnel issue.

But in all likelihood, it isn’t. Trump had a talent for reading his base, he got a degree of enthusiasm from them that no other recent politician has matched, and the way he accomplished that involved talking like a fourth grader.

Figuring out what this implies about the ability, or inability, of right-wing politics to effect a turnaround in this country’s decline is an exercise best left for the reader.

Meanwhile, I maintain my old conviction that periods of growth and decline are a cycle that civilizations must go through, just like the world of nature has its summers and winters, and that having to live through the beginning of winter is no cause for despair, so long as you are ready for what is coming.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The New Year And The Old Year

 

“It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.”

So said the great Yogi Berra, and the events of the past twelve months have born him out. To begin with, there was the Coronavirus, which was unforeseeable, except in the statistical sense – that is to say, epidemiologists have always been saying things like: “there’s a one to two percent chance that a global flu-like pandemic will break out during the next year,” and over a long enough timescale, they’ll be right.

But non-virus related news can be even more strange and surprising. For example, I very much doubt that, even a few years ago, anyone would have foreseen a Russian state-owned news site running an opinion piece with the headline: “Don’t Dismiss US Coup.”

So if you go back and read the introductory section of my annual predictions piece from a year ago, it will probably leave you feeling wistful, as I talked long and loud about how, unlike most people in the media, I was going to make my predictions on the basis of steady trends, historical cycles, and the assumption that, on the whole, the upcoming year was unlikely to be any more exciting than any other year.

And because of that, I insisted, my readers could rest assured that my predictions would be more accurate than anything they got from rival websites, which tend to focus on dramatic events that make good clickbait but don’t get around to happening in the real world.

Well, I still think I was right in principle – steady trends, historical cycles, and the assumption that the upcoming year will be no more spectacular than the one before it usually produce better predictions than any other method. But as it turned out, 2020 was the wrong year to get into the prediction business using that approach.

So before making new forecasts for 2021, I should probably take a look at how my predictions for 2020 fared.

My election predictions were the worst of the set. I said that Joe Biden was going to win the Democratic primary, as indeed he did, but I also predicted that Biden would lose to Donald Trump in the general election, that the Republicans would hold the Senate, and that they would most likely take back the House as well.

Another Trump victory seemed like a sound bet when I made it, since it’s very rare for the White House to switch parties after just four years. In fact, it had happened only once in previous century, with Carter’s loss in 1980, amid circumstance that, so it seemed, had little in common with those facing Donald Trump in 2020.

To be fair, once summer came along, with the Covid Recession and the George Floyd Riots in full swing and Trump failing to show any apparent leadership, I admitted that I didn’t feel sure about his upcoming victory anymore. And when he refused to admit that he had lost in November and gave Democratic base a reason to come out in force in the Georgia elections, instead of resting on its laurels like a new President’s party usually does, I admitted that the Senate was up in the air as well.

Still, at the end of the day, my election forecasting record is one for four – I was right about the primary, and wrong about all three components of the general election. This is certainly not something that I would like to repeat.

Fortunately, my non-election predictions fared better. In short, I had said that, officially, the US economy would grow somewhat, but that the real economy would continue to contract while the authorities kept gimmicking the inflation statistics to hide what was happening. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping would still be the presidents of their respective countries at the year’s end, the United States would avoid going to war with Russia, China, or Iran, and Iran would avoid war with Israel.

The protests in Hong Kong would be de-escalated peacefully, while China’s much worse human rights abuses in Uyghuristan would continue to get little attention from the West. Also, nothing significant would come of the US-China trade war, and while the financial trends leading Eurasia to dedollarize would continue, they wouldn’t be felt quickly enough to threaten global dollar dominance during the year to come.

As it turned out, neither Covid-19, the George Floyd riots, nor the “Stop-the-Steal” lunacy got in the way of any of these things playing out the way that I said they would. And that includes, bizarrely enough, my prediction that official GDP would grow. Right now, the authorities are reporting a 33.4 percent gain in third quarter GDP that more than makes up for the 31.4 percent loss in the second quarter of 2020. Add in the 8.7 percent growth forecast by the Fed for Q4 (which exceeds the 5.0 percent loss in Q1) and you are looking at a positive net growth rate.

Obviously, these numbers don’t reflect the situation on the ground for ordinary Americans; the 100,000 or so small businesses that went under during the lockdowns are not, for the most part, popping right back up. Nevertheless, when the official figures are calculated, the collapse of real industry can easily end up being overshadowed by financialization, i.e. by an increase in the American upper classes’ supply of hallucinatory paper wealth.

Perhaps you have wondered why America’s Big Three automakers – Ford, GM, and Chrysler – are together worth $144 billion, while the combined market capitalizations of NIO, XPing, and Li Auto, a trio of Chinese electric car startups that have yet to make a dime in profits, stands at $171 billion? Or why Tesla is now valued at $809 billion, an amount of money it would take about 1,600 years to earn back at its current sales rate?

This is happening because, as I write this, the electric vehicle industry is going through a speculatory bubble that makes pets.com look like a sound investment. Eventually, the bubble will pop, as all bubbles do, but for now, this illusory growth – along with a great many other forms of illusory growth – counts for just as much in the official GDP numbers as any other economic activity.

When the people in power say that the economy is doing well – which they will be saying a lot more once Joe Biden is sworn in as President – you can rest assured that they are blowing smoke.

And this is a topic that leads nicely into my predictions for 2021. Fortunately, there are no elections during the upcoming year, so I can start with economics instead.

I expect that the official economy will keep growing in 2021, and that the real economy will keep contracting. Since phrases like “keep growing,” and “keep contracting,” are by themselves rather vague, I’ll say up front that you can call me wrong if the official GDP (as displayed here) is less than $22 trillion at the year’s end (it’s currently $21.3 trillion), or if the real value of a dollar (as calculated by my own method, described here) doesn’t fall by at least eleven percent during 2021.

I suspect that the Democrats in Congress will spend liberally once Joe Biden is sworn in, both because that’s their usual response to crisis, and also because having their man in the White House means that they get to take credit for any short-term economic gains this causes. The spending will probably start with ≥$2,000 payments to each citizen, plus fatter unemployment checks, but as usual most of the money will end up going to special interests. Expect the national debt to have exceeded $31.5 trillion by the last day of December, and the debt-to-GDP ratio to have risen to at least 140 percent.

As for other legislation, I expect that the House of Representatives will pass the DC statehood bill again (and perhaps also a bill for Puerto Rico) but I don’t think that either will get through the Senate, because the Democrats’ majority there is just too thin. After all, they talked about admitting new states in 2009, when they had 60 seats, and didn’t get around to doing it, so I don’t expect them to do it now. For the same reason, I’m confident that they won’t add seats to the Supreme Court.

After Biden’s inauguration, I expect a rapid diedown of the Democratic party’s enthusiasm for maximal Covid lockdowns. The explanation here is as cynical as it is obvious: once Democrats stand to benefit from a return to prosperity and normalcy, they will become the party of prosperity and normalcy.

Big Tech is going to crack down hard in the wake of Donald Trump’s riot/quarter-assed coup attempt last Wednesday. Expect way more deplatformings in 2021 than in 2020. And it won’t stop with just the QAnon people – anyone associated with any form of conservatism or Trumpistry is at risk of losing access to social media, web hosting, other online services, publishers, banks, etc. Meanwhile, right-wingers will keep on losing their jobs and professional standing for criticizing the BLM and LGBT movements.

Whether the upcoming year will feature as many riots as the last one is a tricky question. Before 6 January – that is, when riots in America were exclusively the purview of the Left – I expected the leftist troublemakers to get a lot calmer when their own guy was in the White House and they no longer had a bright orange hate object on which to focus their rage. But now that both sides are in on the rioting business, we may well end up with back-and-forth street violence and low-level thuggery all year long.

One thing should be clear, though: none of the insurrectionary rhetoric will lead to the fall of the government, or to a widespread breakdown of civil order. You may be thinking: “What about the breakdown of civil order that we’ve been having since last May?” But that, as I explained in this post back in August, was special anarchy, not general anarchy.

General anarchy means that chaos reigns because the laws, in general, aren’t being enforced. Special anarchy, on the other hand, means that specific people, with the support of elements within the government, can commit specific crimes against specific other people without facing the usual consequences.

The George Floyd riots were a case of special anarchy: perhaps you heard about the man who got 100 hours of community service for toppling a Christopher Columbus statue, even as most other statue topplers were never apprehended at all? Well, that sort of thing doesn’t happen unless there are powerful elements within the government that approve of statue toppling.

I suppose that a lot of people might disagree with my assertion that violence on the part of undisciplined street thugs, from either the Left or the Right, poses no real threat to the government. Perhaps they will point to Weimar Germany as a counterexample – after all, years of insufficiently-punished thuggery and street violence by the Nazi Party’s paramilitary arm, the SA, did indeed end with the establishment of a Nazi dictatorship. And this happened even though the typical SA Mann was an undisciplined thug when compared with the regular German Army.

But the comparison with our day still doesn’t hold. Next to BLM and the Stop-the-Steal people, the SA is the frickin’ Delta Force. None of the actors in America's current brouhaha have the wherewithal to pose a serious threat to the powers that be, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon.

As for the role of the Coronavirus in the coming year’s events, I honestly don’t have all that much to say. I’m not going to try to predict its future growth/dissipation in any detail; the only thing I’m fairly certain about is that by the end of the year it will have mostly faded away, either through successful vaccination, or else through the natural process of evolution into a less deadly form.

I have no idea how well any of the new vaccines will work. The fact that Covid-19 mutates rapidly, and that other members of the coronavirus family have proven resistant to vaccination in the past, certainly doesn’t bode well, and I have often criticized the belief, rooted in what many thinkers call the Myth of Progress, that every problem must have a technological solution if only somebody, somewhere tries hard enough to find it.

At the same time, I am not a Luddite, and I have nothing against innovation so long as it’s done by clear-headed people who are aware of their limits and recognize that success isn’t inevitable. I don’t believe that the Covid vaccines, or vaccines in general, are part of a conspiracy to harm people, and I will probably get vaccinated myself later this spring.

My foreign policy predictions are largely identical to what they were last year. The United States will not go to war with Russia, China, or Iran, and Iran will not go to war with Israel. At the end of 2021, Vladimir Putin will still be the President of Russia, and Xi Jinping will still be the President of China. Unless he dies of old age, the Ayatollah will still be in power in Iran, and the same goes for Joe Biden in the United States.

 Come December 31, the dollar will still be the global currency, and the American armed forces will still be occupying somewhere near half of the world. But both the economic and military power of the United States will be a bit more eroded than at the beginning of the year.

I realize that my predictions look too bleak for most Americans to take them seriously. But bleak doesn’t mean wrong. For example, to a patriotic citizen of the USSR living in 1975, an accurate description of what was going to happen to his country over the next two decades would have looked bleak, too.

The bright side of a future dominated by historical cycles – including the cycle of the decline and fall of empires – is that historical cycles don’t end in apocalypse. While the American Empire does not have a chance at a better future, the American people do.

I expect many great civilizations to rise and fall on this continent while the human race still walks the earth, and if we give up the delusion that ours is destined to last forever – or that its institutions will always stand for liberty and justice – then we just might find that we have what it takes to keep ourselves and our families alive and in good spirits during the troublesome times ahead.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Public Trust and the Electoral Count Riot

 

My original plan for the first post of 2021 was to review my New Year’s predictions from last January, discuss how the trends I was anticipating back then had played out (or failed to play out) in the real world, and make a new set of predictions for the coming year.

I was aware that some Republican Senators and Congressmen had caused a kerfuffle by threatening to raise objections during the 6 Jan counting of the electoral votes. I didn’t expect much to come of it, though I at least found the prospect interesting enough to turn on the C-Span feed from the Capitol yesterday morning to watch the show, and then feel rather annoyed when my own Congressman, Paul Gosar, made the first formal objection. (I have been saying since November that refusing to admit Biden’s win at this point is idiotic).

Then I found out that, after each objection was registered, the two Houses of Congress would have to go into separate chambers, debate it, vote on it, and then repeat the process four or five or six times for however many other states were disputed. The whole thing seemed immensely boring, so I turned off the feed.

An hour or two later I checked the news and, lo and behold, a mob of Trumpist rioters, encouraged by the President’s calls to “never concede,” had smashed their way into the Capitol, looted the place, immortalized their hooliganism with photo ops like the one at the top of my post, gotten themselves tear gassed, and finally dispersed after several hours of fighting during which four people were killed.

Holy hell.

My 2021 predictions will have to wait another few days. This event is worth discussing, both for what it says about the idiocy and impotence of conservatism in America these days, and for what it says about the American people’s loss of faith in their country’s governing institutions.

Because, contra the insistence of the mainstream media and the Neocons, the utter failure of the Electoral Count Riot to overturn the electoral count is not a heartwarming example of a well-functioning democratic government resisting an assault by a bunch of fanatics who want to bring it down. Rather, it is the sort of thing that only happens when a lot of people have already lost faith in American democracy.

If you have followed my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m not in the “keep-it-strictly-legal” camp when it comes to resisting the Left. I’ve said before that the Right’s failure to resist the Left more forcefully in the past has led to America becoming much less democratic than it was a century ago. I have said that some of the Supreme Court’s abuses of power in the 1960s and 1970s deserved to be met with general strikes and barricades in the streets. And I have pointed to the numerous American parents entangled in transgender child custody cases, and their failure to flee the country and seek asylum in Russia, the Philippines, or some other likeminded place, as a sign of inexcusable cowardice on the part of the American Right.

Still, what happened yesterday was idiotic, self-defeating, and immoral.

There is no need to explain in great detail why our messy political situation will not be improved by the spectacle of one party’s fanatics breaking into the Capitol in a hairbrained attempt to prevent their own Senators and Vice President from certifying a member of the other party as the winner of an election which he actually won.

Even so, it’s a mistake to characterize the riot as an attack on a properly functioning set of democratic institutions.

Which is not to say that the country would be better off if the riot had succeeded. In the event that Trump had actually proven himself competent enough to stage a real coup and become dictator-for-life, then it would be naïve for me not to admit that our constitution was dead and buried. But just as there is more than one way to skin a cat, there is more than one way to subvert a republic.

In our current system, as I have lamented many times, the role of the voters in the political process is mostly perfunctory. What really happens is that, while the electorate gets a chance to swap out the President and the Congressional majorities every two or four years, America’s true rulers in the courts, civil service, universities, and woke corporate boardrooms just keep on advancing the same neoliberal agenda – an agenda which presently includes open borders, economic globalization, racial hatemongering, harassment of domestic industry and small businesses, and government-promoted sexual deviancy of every sort.

A large number of Americans are very bothered by these things. And they have come to realize that most Republican politicians simply don’t care. These issues get talked about during elections, but once in office, each new crop of Republicans does little or nothing to stop the courts, the civil service, and various corporations from carrying on policies which their base hates. Which is why such a big portion of the Republican base has come to loathe the Republican party.

Or in other words, America’s so-called “democratic institutions,” by deciding not to be democratic anymore, have lost the trust of America’s voters. And when people feel cheated, ignored, or betrayed, they tend to become angry and irrational.

Thus, while these abuses of power don’t excuse what the MAGA mob did (Biden, after all, really did win the November election) they do go a long ways toward explaining why the mob did it.

And the mob did it because, all too often, when a respected public institution loses the people’s trust, they don’t fill the void by trusting something better. They fill the void by trusting something worse.

For example, CNN (along with the rest of the mainstream media) has done a lot to lose the trust of middle Americans. But these former CNN viewers have not, for the most part, gone over to something better than CNN. Rather, all too many of them have turned to Newsmax, InfoWars, the Unz Review, or something else along those lines.

We saw something similar, but quite a bit more momentous, back in the 1960s, when the youth counterculture was feeding off of the (real) hypocrisy of many of America’s traditional authority figures regarding segregation and the Vietnam War. But the “never trust anyone over thirty” attitude didn’t make the rising generation better than their (flawed) parents, it made them worse.

Right now, the story is playing out all over again with the Trumpist Right. Having lost faith in America’s governing institutions (which only care about democracy as a façade for their institutional power) they have placed their faith in Donald Trump (who only cares about democracy when he wins).

There are plenty of reasons why Donald Trump is a flawed vessel for these people’s faith.

To begin with, Trump’s record on following through on his campaign rhetoric isn’t that much better than the typical Republican’s. Trump ran on a platform of ending foreign wars, but once in office, he kept on bombing Syria, vetoed an Act of Congress that would have gotten the US out of Yemen, and nearly started a war with Iran by assassinating Qasem Soleimani. Trump did not fulfil his promises to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, or build a border wall. He appointed the Kennedy-clerk and likely centrist Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. And so forth.

But none of this matters to the MAGA fanatics, because the old institutions and the old GOP have lost their trust so badly that Trump doesn’t need to offer something better, he just needs to offer something different.

Which he is doing, by leading the bulk of his party into a fantasy-land where he is the true winner of last November’s election.

Even before yesterday’s riot, Trump’s blitheringly stupid behaviour had already cost the Republicans their Senate majority. Georgia’s two Senate races on 5 Jan should have been easy wins for the GOP, since the losing party in a presidential election tends to win almost all special elections during the next two years. (i.e. the losing party’s voters, who feel spurned and disempowered, have a much higher turnout rate than the contented voters of the new President’s party.)

Of course, Trump’s refusal to admit that he lost scuppered that process, since it gave Democratic voters good reason to feel that Trump was still a live threat to their rights and liberties, leading them to turn out in record numbers and flip the Senate.

As I’ve explained here, Trump is not unique among recent Republican Presidents in leading his party into a fantasy land. Reagan, for example, led the Republicans into the fantasy land where Sandra Day O’Connor was a pro-life judge. George W. Bush led them into the fantasy land where the No Child Left Behind Act was an effective way to advance conservative principles. The list goes on and on.

The difference between those events and what Trump is doing now is that earlier flights of fancy simply ended in runs-to-the-left, i.e. Democratic policies being advanced on the backs of Republican electoral victories. Trump’s flight of fancy ended in full Democratic control of the government, plus a batshit crazy riot which has given a great many political moderates good reason to hate and fear the Republican Party.

The Electoral Count Riot didn’t happen in a vacuum, and it deserves a better explanation than Trump is a Mussolini wanabe,” or Republicans are awful.” The riot happened, in large part, because America’s governing institutions have lost the trust of the Deplorables. But the person and ideology which a great many of those Deplorables have chosen to trust in their place do not offer us a realistic path back to normalcy.

So if you are upset about the things that the lunatic Left and the plutocratic Center are doing to this country, then I have bad news for you: we cannot expect the Trumpist Right to offer effective resistance.

The only solution I can offer now – if it’s even worthy of the name – is to prepare yourself and your family to live in a country that looks like Russia in the 1990s or present-day Mexico, because that is where we are headed.