Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry
The final stages of capitalism, Karl Marx predicted, would be marked by global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists would begin to consume the government along with the physical and social structures that sustained them. Democracy, social welfare, electoral participation, the common good and investment in public transportation, roads, bridges, utilities, industry, education, ecosystem protection and health care would be sacrificed to feed the mania for short-term profit. These assaults would destroy the host. This is the stage of late capitalism that Donald Trump represents.
Trump plans to oversee the last great campaign of corporate pillaging of America. It will be as crass and brazen as the fleecing of the desperate people, hoping for a miracle in the face of dead-end jobs and ruinous personal debt, who visited his casinos or shelled out thousands of dollars for the sham of Trump University. He will attempt to unleash a kleptocracy—the word comes from the Greek klépto, meaning thieves, and kratos, meaning rule, so it is literally “rule by thieves”—one that will rival the kleptocracies carried out by Suharto in Indonesia and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. It is not that Trump and his family will use the influence of government to increase their wealth, although this will certainly take place on a massive scale; it is that hundreds of billions of federal dollars will be diverted into the hands of cronies, sleazy bankers, unethical financial firms and scabrous hedge fund managers. The pillars of the liberal state will be obliterated.
The only possibility for halting the destruction being designed by the Trump transition team is sustained resistance and civil disobedience that will create popular pressure for impeachment. This is why I will be at the march in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21 and speak that evening at a rally with Kshama Sawant and Jill Stein.
Trump is impulsive, ignorant and inept. His corruption and greed are so unfettered he may become a burden and embarrassment to his party and the nation, as well as a danger to himself. The longer he stumbles in the unfamiliar corridors of governmental power the more vulnerable he becomes. But if we are not in the streets to hold the system accountable he may be able to cling to power and inflict significant damage.
Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, has argued that Trump could be impeached under the Constitution’s emoluments clause. This clause prohibits a federal officeholder from receiving from a foreign power anything of value that could compromise the exclusive loyalty owed to the Constitution. Trump’s global businesses make him vulnerable, Tribe argues, to foreign pressure from countries where he has assets. “Trump’s continued interest in the Trump Organization and his steady stream of monetary and other benefits from foreign powers put him on a collision course with the emoluments clause.”
If, however, we suffer another catastrophic domestic terrorist attack or launch a new war, the political space to examine and prosecute Trump and remove him from office will disappear. The rhetoric from the Oval Office will become bloodcurdling. The security and surveillance state will go into hyperdrive. Any dissent, including mere criticism of the president, will be attacked as helping our enemies. Trump and his kleptocrats, under the familiar cover of national security and war, will transform huge sums of government money into personal assets….[continue reading]
Copyright 2017 Chris Hedges. First published in Truthdig.
The family of Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, has a net worth of more than $5 billion. DeVos is known as a fierce proponent of school vouchers that would allow students to attend private schools with public funding. According to The New York Times, it “is hard to find anyone more passionate about the idea of steering public dollars away from traditional public schools than Betsy DeVos.”