[This article was originally posted on Proletarian Internationalist Notes, the unfortunately under-publicized website of MIM-Orchid, but we feel that it sheds light on a very important reality which has been neglected by opportunists in the western left. The author questions how we should view Trump in relation to other amerikan presidents/politicians and, perhaps more importantly, how we actually respond to the material conditions created by his presidency. Furthermore, they challenge opportunism which has dominated the neoliberal frenzy that has taken hold of all opposition forces since his election. As always, this article is provided for the purposes of study and discussion.]
It’s been ten days since Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey. According to information derived from the bets of non-amerikan gamblers, Trump has a 19.5% chance of leaving office in 2017 and about a 51% chance total of leaving office sooner than 2020. 2018 is only six months away.
Prediction markets were “wrong” about the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but only in the sense that the candidate they for several months indicated had more than a 50% chance of winning— Clinton—lost. Whether prediction markets are right about a 51% probability, of an outcome for a certain type of question, is revealed in the long run. In fact, somebody saying there is a 51% chance of something happening has to be “wrong” 49% of the time, in terms of the favored outcome not coming to pass, to be right. Any more or less than that is an error. Short of waiting to see the results of several questions, one way of assessing a prediction market is to check if the answers you can bet on cover all possibilities and see if the percentages add up to 100%. The percentages on electionbettingodds.com for the “Year Trump Leaves Office” question add up to 99.9%.
Basically, what that means is that many non-amerikan gamblers are able to put their money where their mouth is and are doing so. Given certain reasonable assumptions, the 51% figure (19.7% + 19.5% + 12.0% = 51.2%) may be very close to the actual probability of Trump’s leaving office before 2020.
Leaving office before or after January 1, 2020, logically includes various possibilities including assassination by a delusional fascist who watched too many movies and TV shows and thinks they are some kind of time traveler here to kill Trump as a Hitler, and assassination by a “patriotic” Democrat in the FBI or CIA who themselves think the rules don’t apply to them and that they have a “duty” to stop Trump by any means. It can hardly be denied that some of those amerikans now saying Lincoln and Kennedy had it worse than Trump in terms of unfair treatment were “joking” about Trump’s death months ago or making Hitler comparisons. The 51% probability of departure before 2020 is ominous in the sense that various possible events other than the completion of a long legal process seem to be priced in. Though it could just mean Democrats have such confidence about impeachment that they don’t need to discuss it so intensely and publicly now, talk of impeachment has already subsided at the time of this writing. But gamblers are still betting in such a way as to indicate some early departure is more likely than not.
Nobody can deny that Comey was fired. There are debates about other questions. However, if Trump were to step down tomorrow, the probability of Trump’s doing so because of a strong U.S. liberal antiwar movement, or because of pressure related to Trump’s being an actual fascist worse than Obama, is zilch. Whoever replaces Trump before 2020 will do so on the basis of provocations, anti-Russian jingoism in the midst of politicians calling for Pentagon budgets larger than even Trump’s proposal, repeated failure of liberals to oppose war, and uniting with war hawks rhetorically worse than Trump.
It won’t be on the basis of acceptance of Roe v. Wade or unity on so-called common sense gun control. So-called leftists talking about “broad unity” against Trump are admitting that and also admitting they are uniting with warmongers, both Democratic and Republican. They are themselves saying the reason for impeaching Trump would be “the rule of law.”
Confusingly, calling for Trump’s impeachment is considered ultra-leftist by some Democrats worried about the political ramifications of publicly talking about impeachment so soon. Most of the amerikans calling for Trump to be impeached are considered “leftist” by amerikan standards, but many of these supposed leftists don’t oppose war and would be fine with a war hawk and militarist worse than Trump in power. Some do express obligatory skepticism about wars, but continue to equate Trump with Russians as people amerikans should view as evil. Most confusing are so-called Marxists with vacuous rhetoric making their special contribution by saying Russia is “no less” an imperialist country than the united $tates.
Trump is the president of the world’s hegemon and #1 international exploiter and aggressor. So was Obama. Trump is a militarist. So is Obama. Trump’s right to privacy or secrecy isn’t more important than consistency in investigations and prosecutions. However, what Trump did—firing Comey (apparently instead of seeking Comey’s resignation when the reasons for a resignation might have been less clear), publicly condemning Comey, and seemingly admitting through the White House press secretary that the termination was at least in some way related to “grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions”—involves much more accountability than the actions of powerful, shadowy people using journalistic and even “leftist” cover for spreading gossip anonymously in a way that will lead to more war crimes with no real opposition before or after.
People who don’t see what’s wrong with that and yet talk about “rule of law” in AmeriKKKa have no business claiming to be anti-fascists. They are contributing to the development of fascism, even by denying the extent of the domestic and international repression that already exists.
Fascists have no problem with the rule of law as long as they can change the law. Even now, repressing protests is legitimized in terms of upholding the rule of law. This is true both inside and outside the huge U.S. prison system though the united $tates has no proletariat. With every wave of patriotic indignation at the slightest appearance of Russian influence, there are references to “the rule of law.”
An emphasis on the rule of law may appeal to authoritarian types across the U.$. political spectrum overly concerned about rules or petty matters. Although, conveniently both Democrats and Republicans seem disinclined at this time to discuss the details of the partisan impeachment of Bill Clinton by Republicans in the House of Representatives. Richard Nixon is a common reference point though, unlike Clinton, Nixon resigned before the House could actually impeach him.
Obama smoked pot when he was young, it is true. So did George W. Bush’s brother Jeb Bush, for example. But Obama ended up as the united $tates’ top law enforcer. More to the point, Obama was able to change the law more than Trump has been able to, and Obama had a personality cult larger Trump’s. At the same time, Obama increased the criminalization of some groups of migrants, and committed various high-profile extrajudicial killings, without changing the law.
Trump’s support is less broad and less deep than Obama’s was at many points. Indeed, Trump’s average Rasmussen approval index over the last five days (May 15-19) is -19.4%. The May 16 index of -21 is the lowest the index has ever been at. Compare that day’s index with the February 16 approval index of +2 (slightly more strong approval than strong disapproval). The approval index was already at -15 by May 8, the day before Trump fired Comey.
That is a significant decline. Such a large change in that direction can in no way justify extreme opportunism supposedly to remove an increasingly bold fascist from office.
Some are trying to have things both ways with what bookies are saying about impeachment. Prediction markets may represent a lack of support for Trump, or true beliefs about a lack of support and mandate, but either it is true Trump or some “fascist” wing of the Republican Party is moving into some position where they aren’t going to leave office—or it isn’t true. It seems more likely that some of the issues related to Comey’s termination are particular to Trump, as many are saying. If Trump does have a 20% chance of being in office for less than one eighth of Obama’s time, that may represent a weakness of Trump that cannot be surmounted.
Supposedly Trump didn’t anticipate the consequences of firing Comey. However, anyone else, even Hillary Clinton, might not have found themselves between a rock and a hard place and still needing to obstruct DOJ prosecutors and FBI officials. And, in any case it’s hard to see how Trump or fascists benefited, except for Democratic fascists and some of Trump’s Republican critics. Certainly, had Clinton won the election and declined to keep Comey on as FBI Director, few Democrats would have called Clinton fascist.
People saying there is some hidden antiwar motivation for calling for Trump’s impeachment now are either lying or delusional to the point of being psychotic. They call for Republicans, only, to be impeached, call only Republicans fascists, and keep changing the definition of fascism to avoid calling increasingly reactionary Democratic leaders fascist, because they are pandering to those leaders and their followers. That’s what they’ve always been about: fucking the people, serving the Democratic Party, and uniting with other militarists and warmongers in the Republican Party when it serves Democrats’ and amerikans’ interests.
1. “Election Betting Odds by Maxim Lott and John Stossel.” Retrieved 2017 May 19.
2. “New defense budget poised to meet lower expectations,” 2017 May 19.
3. “Trump told Russians that firing ‘nut job’ Comey eased pressure from investigation,” 2017 May 19. “By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Mr. Spicer said. “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”
“Trump shifts rationale for firing Comey, calling him a ‘showboat’,” 2017 May 11. “It was just the latest in a series of statements, some of them contradictory, to whiplash Washington over 48 hours that began with Mr. Comey’s firing on Tuesday evening. And it was unusually harsh: Mr. Trump castigated Mr. Comey as “a showboat” and “a grandstander,” suggesting that his issues with the F.B.I. director went beyond any previously stated concerns.”
4. “Trump approval index history.” Retrieved 2017 May 19