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Trump arraignment a dangerous moment

John Bell

April 5, 2023

It is hard not to celebrate the arraignment of Donald Trump for fraud, related to paying hush money to a porn star during the 2016 election campaign. As Mary Trump observed: “A Trump indictment will cause the country to run out of beer.”

But there are very real risks that Trump and his supporters will be able to parlay this into a renewed election bid. In recent weeks Trump’s support among Republican voters has surged and he was able to raise $7 million overnight for his campaign and legal defence.

Part of the problem roots in the nature of the charges. The fraud case, the misuse and violation of election spending laws, of which Trump is almost certainly guilty, are hard to explain and seem trivial to the casual observer. What did he do? Screw the banks? That makes the charges themselves fodder for Trump’s supporters, whipping up witch-hunt conspiracy theories:

“You can look at ancient history, and you can see this is the kind of thing that ends a civilization,” ranted Rudy Giulliani.

“This prosecution is pure, Bolshevik style witchhuntery,”blustered  Donald Trump Jr.

“There’s no proof Trump slept with Stormy. There’s no baby,” FOX News pundit Jesse Watters correctly pointed out.

This statement of the New York Young Republicans reveals the cultish devotion which many feel for Trump:  “President Trump embodies the American people - our psyche from id to super–ego-as does no other figure; his soul is totally bonded with our core values and emotions, and he is our total and indisputable champion. This tremendous connection threatens the established order.”

Trump has successfully yoked big business conservatism to the disaffection of the white, mostly male US working class. From the start he has made subtle and then more overt racism central to his persona. If part of his appeal is his outsider, outlaw act, laying these charges may help more than hurt him.

Trump is guilty of far worse, and more clear-cut crimes than fraud. He should be tried for inciting the violent coup attempt of January 6, and attempting to overturn the election results.  His well-documented actions were seditious and unconstitutional.

Charging him for these major crimes would put the whole neo-fascist Trumpist movement on trial. And that is precisely why it won’t happen.

The cowardly Democrats do not want to provoke a fight. They fail to pose a real alternative to Republicans. Their claims of creating jobs are undercut by rising cost of living and lousy pay. When rail workers threatened to make historic gains against greedy bosses and unsafe conditions, Biden passed a law forcing them back to work. 

When the far-right dominated Supreme Court struck down women’s right to choose, the Democrats discouraged organizing in the streets and just told everyone to wait for the election.

When another mass shooting occurs, Democrats fume and do nothing. 

Most of the labour union bureaucracies are just as timid, joined at the hip to the Democrats. So when workers do revolt and fight back, they do all they can to undermine grass-roots militancy. Areas where workers have been most successful fighting back in recent years – like the NYC Amazon workers – are groups with weak or no union bureaucracies to hold them back.

It is almost as if they were trying to drive working-class anger into Trump’s soft-core fascist embrace.

The January 6th inquiry was a major blow to Trump and his imitators in states across the nation. But it only resulted in minor charges against low-level goons. Democrats sought to turn that publicity into a few seats in congress, not wage a fight against the threat of a rising fascist movement. So now Trump has bounced back. Their cowardice and miscalculations are going to come home to roost in coming months.



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