A good critique of the presidential race by a left-anarchist. The Trump-Mussolini comparison is standard leftist hyperbole (see today’s other post). Trump is probably more comparable to a figure like Nelson Rockefeller, although comparing Hillary to Nixon is reasonably accurate as is a comparison of Obama and Nixon. If anything, Hillary is arguably to the right of Nixon. As leftist “anti-fascist” Matthew Lyons has said:
“Imagine a president who expands affirmative action, actively promotes school desegregation, enacts important new laws in social welfare, environmental protection, occupational health and safety, and consumer protection, supports comprehensive health insurance and a system of guaranteed income for all citizens, and whose Justice Department opposes the RICO Act on the grounds that it gives the government powers that are much too broad and sweeping for prosecuting criminals. In 2011, such a president would be considered far to left of Barack Obama and far to the left of almost everyone in Congress. Forty years ago, such a president was called Richard Nixon.”
By William Gillis
Center for a Stateless Society
The next President of the United States will be one of the worst.
If September 11th was a gunshot that allowed the Bush Administration to take off sprinting, the Obama administration grabbed the baton and charged forward even faster. No one spends years pursuing political power only to walk into the Oval Office and suddenly decide to surrender and abolish their power. The exchange of the executive office between Republicans and Democrats is just the steady ratchet of authoritarianism — each side stamping out pockets of freedom that their predecessor’s didn’t.
And yet this election poses a situation even more dire than usual. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have the most extreme unfavorability ratings of any major candidate in modern times.
In some respects the apocalyptic language widely used to describe both candidates risks obscuring how much of a continuation their administrations will be. Both will likely step up the US government’s attacks upon the internet. Both will likely work to take guns out of the hands of people of color. Both will likely give the police and the military a pass, and suppress investigations into abuses during the Bush and Obama years. Both will level the power of the state against some capitalists while empowering, condoning and privileging others. Both will protect their cronies and punish others. Both will be profoundly secretive and capricious towards whistleblowers, journalists, and pundits.
And yet it does mean something when Trump and Clinton are the nominees despite overwhelming dislike. What this election poses is something of a break — a stark unveiling of just how unnecessary the pretense of democratic support really is. The major parties are free to elect some of the most vile monsters imaginable and one of them will still end up president. America’s politicians have learned that they can be hated and still rule.
This election is a contest between a Mussolini and a Nixon. Both representatives of brazen authoritarianism, albeit in different flavors and with different temperaments.