The worst treason by the Trump cult? The politics of secession, the violent refusal to share power.

Only deviant voters want nutcases like Stephen Miller as attorney general, Steve Bannon as sec’y of state, or Rudy Giuliani as press propaganda secretary.

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Trumpism pitches mass defiance against consensus decision-making, whether by elections, compromise, or Congressional votes

What glues bullying Trump fascism to his fascist-friendly base is they both demand owning all the political toys—belligerently refusing to share. Fascism after all must be a closed tribal system, only for the “right people.” Thus the bad faith dogma that poisons debate (how to argue with chronic lying?), the contempt for compromise, and the demonization of citizens as predatory “vermin.” Trumpism not only defies sharing power, it wants to banish opposition by violence, intimidation, voter lockouts, or misusing the legal system. 

The clout of a manipulated cult is to go rogue on command, even when it means soiling your own nest. Woe for any red-state MAGA of modest means whose children need an abortion. Or marries a suspect ethnic outsider.  Or needs a cancelled government service. Are not millions of others equally aggrieved, especially with the foreign policy and dominant corporatism afflicting U.S. politics, without rushing to dump the Constitution, independent judiciary, or certified elections? Who but the desperate turns personal grievance into systemic demolition? Hell, have progressives gone nuts because there’s not been one genuine progressive president since WWII? Only the suckered, the impotent, or the logically-fractured turn grievance into fascism, cruelty, violence, intolerance, and the mania to bash government.

Clearly, the self-entitled Trump never wants to share anything, whether pilfered state secrets, party leadership or the loyalty of slavish followers. His dismal childhood taught him that going-it-alone selfishness best served his malignant narcissism, thus his imperious control over his fraudulent real estate business, fraudulent presidency, fraudulent campaigning and misguided, fraudulent legal ploys. In fact, he alone couldn’t fix anything in no small part because he’s the worst partner in the world, micromanaging himself into corners (as with COVID). What arrogant egotist decides that any election he doesn’t win is a direct violation of the natural order? Thus he plays only to his nodding cult, won’t expand his base, and when convicted won’t beat Biden. 

We’ve seen it all before

Insurrectionist Trumpers thus directly parallel the Confederacy’s epic temper tantrum that produced calamity for all. Whatever else the triggers, the Civil War rebellion set traitors refusing to share governance, who decided they “alone could fix” slavery and states rights, against an agreed on, legitimate government. The Southern elite, as with today’s Freedom Caucus, abandoned debate, compromise, civility, and majority rule. That rebellion festered despite overt preferential treatment that strictly favored rural and southern slave owners, installing the Electoral College, the undemocratic Senate, and that absurd 3/5’s per slave concession on representation. Why else, of our first twelve presidents, were eight slave-owners—the result of direct concessions? But even this version of “affirmative action” did not impede the insurgent, holier-than-thou Confederacy. 

Yes, the country is badly divided, the hostility is high, but the Trump right worsens tension by rejecting the necessary, democratic bridges to even marginal consensus. The toxicity of endless lying, contempt for elections and Constitutional justice was only the prep for Trump’s reckless demands for total presidential immunity. Or to weaponize the Justice Dept to execute political discrimination. Or to steal top secrets, defy return, and expose a sluggish legal system that can’t get out of its own way.

What Trumpism comes down to, whatever the noise, is a democracy-killing refusal to share power. Clearly, a critical, insular mass no longer honors the implied agreement that a representative republic must recognize diverse interests. When any one cadre decides only it deserves to control all – that’s political sedition to a tee. Democracy can tolerate many blows, but any leader who defies whatever gets in his way becomes a treasonous enemy of Constitutional government. 

Worse still, if possible, this power-mongering minority doesn’t present facts and figures, even visible plans, to justify the implied emergency that would justify such radical takeovers. Instead, it boasts of (and appeals solely to) populist gut feeling—a nasty brew of anger, grievance and frustration, as justification for why majority rule—if not check and balances—must be thrown overboard. One can debate differences, even great differences, such as “problematic immigration on the southern border” or “abortion is a serious, complex, family decision,” but what open debate is impossible when belligerent threateners live by this solipsism: “We the self-declared true Americans, ordained by God, must have all the power or we will politically secede, even commit violence”? 

The extremist “gift in the wound” 

Thus let us shift from the tedium of Trump idiocy, crowned with his low-brow clownishness designed to turn trials into sh-t-shows. What matters most is how undecided centrists “negotiate” between a fixated, single-minded right and a reality-based, diverse center/left. Emphatically, Trumpers no longer think a president must have character (as in principles), morality (!), knowledge of government or core qualifications. By design, Trump is the anti-president oblivious to appearances of propriety, the criminal bad boy dancing as fast as he can to keep his ego train from further wreckage. Good news: his inexhaustible vanity has exposed dreams as a punitive dictator whose idea of “cleaning the swamp” is to fill it with discredited sycophants. 

While courts and countless critics already seriously discount Trump, the times still must address how long Trumpism or MAGA lasts. Will November signal the turn when most independents and nearly all Democrats confirm that democracy can’t abide nasty, spoiled brats who never want to share power or governance? Polarization is one thing, division another, but this November should make clear only deviant, wildly misinformed voters want nutcases like Stephen Miller as attorney general, Steve Bannon as sec’y of state, or Rudy Giuliani, more desperate for money than ever, as press propaganda secretary. 

Further, it doesn’t in the end matter whether we solve the great paradox, whether reams of right-wing media propaganda created the fascist Trump—or whether a hustling salesman’s PR blitz channeled the disgruntled right so they willingly follow a covert autocrat immune to guard rails. No doubt this was an unholy partnership that simply got out of hand, lurching into Republican extremism. Yet interestingly, the semi-grassroots Tea Party crowd never talked up a fascist at the helm, or the defiant rejection of elections, or contempt for legal systems, state and federal. Not one as I recall touted Putin – or put down the Constitution as an inconvenience to be skirted. Instead, whatever its racist, pro-gun underpinnings, the Tea Party gang avoided the worst of Trumpist opportunism, instead pushing to limit government, lower taxes, declare America First sovereignty, and stick to constitutional originality. 

Fomenting a cult beholden to a self-appointed, charismatic monomaniac is bad enough. But fomenting a cult that refuses to do business with others, indeed undercutting citizens with the same rights, freedoms and entitlements—that’s simply a cancer on democracy that must be fiercely expunged. That won’t be easy, and harder still if Trump, however improbably, is re-elected. And yet implicit in yahoo extremism we may find the inevitable “gift from the wound”—by which the choice in November is immensely simplified and the recovery of democratic confidence is renewed. In fact, our history is a testament to overcoming body blows.

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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.

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