People the world over are wondering what is going on in the US government today. There seems to be an extraordinary amount of infighting between members of Congress and the President.
The Federal Courts have been dragged into the fray, Hollywood has an endless supply of enmity and vitriol for Donald Trump, and there are weekly marches in the streets: women’s marches, anti-Trump marches, and town hall protests on both the Democratic side and from Republican constituents who say the repeal of Obamacare and the promised tax cuts are not coming fast enough.
A slew of talk shows, late night shows, early morning televisions shows, and newspaper op-eds incessantly express their apoplectic views that Trump is the bane of mankind. We are all but assured daily that the Trump Administration will be rounding up gays, blacks, Jews, trans people, and other perceived malcontents to whisk them off to the nearest gas chamber in no time flat. He is Hitler after all. Once Team Trump fills all its cabinet seats, it’s off to the races. Auschwitz Part II: The Return of the Third Reich.
Throw in accusations of fake news in the mainstream media from Donald Trump himself, along with the CIA and FBI bickering with each other publicly, the possible leaking of damning information to the press by people inside those same organizations, and you start to the think that Donald Trump would be more qualified to be the ring master of a circus than a sitting US President.
So, what gives? Well, the left-wing is bitter that their candidate lost. We know this. It was Russian fake news, Anthony Weiner, James Comey, Alt-right Internet propaganda, the electoral college, the recount, misogyny, and on and on. Anything but it being Clinton’s own fault she lost. With the Democratic Party in shambles at this point, it is easy enough to see why the Left hates Trump. He blew up their long hoped for plans. In James Carville’s words, “the Democrats will rule for the next 40 years.” It didn’t happen, and it wasn’t supposed to end this way. Not in 21st-century America. Now they will not rest until Trump is somehow impeached.
But this does not explain the pushback Donald Trump is getting within his own party. The CIA and FBI and Hollywood liberals can be explained away with having their own individual agendas that are antithetical to the President’s promised policies. The reasons may not be so obvious when it comes to the Republican Party’s internecine squabbling, however. That is because there are three Republican Parties rolled into one. They are all battling for their place in the party’s decision-making process, and as such, they are willing to do battle with anyone who stands in their way.
Donald Trump was exceptionally savvy to enlist the help of Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani only to throw them overboard once he became President. Appointing Steve Bannon as a close advisor sent a clear message as to which way Trump wanted to lean his administration ideologically. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Bannon proudly claimed, “I’m a Leninist.” “Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
So how is a Republican advisor who was the editor-in-chief of a right-wing online American news publication a Leninist? Well, he has no love for communism, that’s for sure. What Bannon was alluding to was the desire to pare back what he sees as an out of control government bureaucracy that could care less about the American public. Bannon wants to smash the apparatus of the state that has grown into a behemoth that fuels itself off of 2 trillion dollars in taxes a year.
Bannon is hewn in the vein of Pat Buchanan and the Old Right. According to Daily Kos, “The Alt-Right has joined forces with Russia to battle the forces of liberalism. Their plan is Leninist in nature. Their plan stretches across all of the West and has been incredibly successful.
Their plan was to join forces with Russia, push nationalism and alt-right movements, break apart the EU and Western Alliances that push multiculturalism, to use Chaos theory on the West, and for them to rise out of the ashes. They see Putin as their ally in their fight against multiculturalism, secularism, abortion and gays.” Like Buchanan before him, Bannon sees the West in dire straights, riven with decades of maleficent government policies that have abandonment traditional American norms.
Such a view would explain far better the Trump Administration’s desire for détente with Russia as opposed to the notion that Trump was somehow blackmailed by Vladimir Putin. Bannon seeks to reinstate a traditional Christian, Western, small government ideology back into the Republican Party’s primary platform. Such a view has not been popular since Ronald Reagan, who also sought better relations with Russia.
Nevertheless, Buchanan is more right leaning than Reagan and called for the construction of a border wall in the 1980s, something Reagan dismissed as extreme. It seems that with the speed and the veracity of the executive orders coming from the Oval Office in the first weeks of the Trump Presidency, the push to enact this agenda is urgent.
Enter the Blueblood Republicans stage left. Smarting from their own lose in the primaries and the election itself, this group is inclined to work with Trump, but begrudgingly. This group includes the likes of Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, George H.W. Bush, Brent Scowcroft, Colin Powell, Mitt Romney, and others who stand for more formal, standardized Republican views. I use the term “Blue Blood” because these types of Republicans do the bidding of the rich and the upper crust of US culture. Some consider them to be paleoconservatives, but I do not. Many of these people voted for Hillary Clinton and openly stated their ambivalence for Trump publicly, including the current Speaker of the House.
The Neoconservative wing is having none of it either. No appeasement of Russia is on the table, the Global War on Terror must continue full throttle, and they would be damned if Trump is going to spoil their plans for full spectrum dominance of the planet. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, John Bolton, and Elliot Abrams, along with other prominent neocons have either tried to sabotage Trump outright or make their way into key positions in his administration. All of these attempts have been stopped in their tracks. Trump has few, if any, real neocons in his administration, and the bluebloods are following along because they have no choice.
The infighting and vying for power does not stop there, however. It is also going on inside Team Trump. Robert Parry wrote in Consortium News days before the resignation of Michael Flynn, “I’m told that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, privately at least, recognizes that Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-led Gulf state allies are the prime backers of Al Qaeda and Islamic State – with Iran actually fighting these major terror groups – but close advisers to President Trump, including son-in-law Jared Kushner and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, appear wedded to Official Washington’s “group think” blaming Iran for pretty much everything that’s gone wrong in the region.”
Could the real reason that Flynn was pushed out be because of his views on Iran? It’s possible considering his history of disdain for the Mullahs and their defiance towards the United States. Speculating will only get us so far, but his resignation is symbolic because it shows clear strains within Team Trump. The fact that both John Bolton and Elliot Abrams were denied top spots in the State Department seems to confirm that Trump thinks Operation Iraqi Freedom was a disaster. The neocons have plenty of other locations they want to press forward with, namely, Syria and Ukraine. After all, General Westley Clark spilled the beans when he said that the neocons in the George. W. Bush White House were a coterie of regime fanatics that wanted to overthrow most of the Middle East and parts of Africa.
The neocons are well known for their fervent support of Israel and their desire for continual revolution through warfare. William Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, has carried on in his father’s legacy that began in New York, New York. In the 1930s the neoconservatives were beginning to gain traction at New City College and then later at the University of Chicago under Leo Strauss. By the time the counterculture of the 1960s rolled around, right-wing political pundits like William F. Buckley Jr. found an ally in this growing faction of conservatives who fancied themselves classical liberals for a new age. Irving Kristol, William’s father, once quipped a neoconservative was a “liberal mugged by reality.”
In this sense, neoconservatives are for big government, interventionist wars, and are accepting of things like gay rights, feminism, and abortion. With a strong predilection for Israel, the neocons see Christians as a means of supporting their cause of protecting the Hold Land, but they keep no allegiances to the Vatican or for Evangelicals. Considering that the neocons are ideologically at the crossroads between traditional Republican patriotism and big government welfare-warfare statism, acolytes of this group found a cozy home in the Obama Administration also.
Some think that the neocon holdovers in the CIA are the ones leaking information to the press to undermine Team Trump. They do not want to see decades of their handiwork suddenly go unfunded and are resolute to see Trump thrown out of his ear. Hillary Clinton was the establishment candidate and both the neocons and the bluebloods threw their weight behind her. Given her ignominious loss, it becomes clear that what has risen out of the election is the Alt-right. Ronald Reagan was a Blueblood Republican. Reagan sought to expand global trade and deindustrialize industry and helped to destabilize union memberships, all of which Team Trump has vowed to reconfigure in some fashion.
The middle-class sentiment on the part of Team Trump is to shrink the government and return it to the people. It is Jacksonian in its thrust. Whether Trump takes on the Federal Reserve, the Israel Lobby, or the Chinese currency manipulating politburo in Beijing is left to be seen. Trump’s declaration to snuff our Islamic State and not engage in the Syrian conflict that the Obama Administration helped to ignite, goes against the Pentagon’s wish to continue with more of the same. Going so far as to disband NATO if the organization’s members do not pay their fair share financially for defense, has squarely pushed Trump into the “New Conservative” or Alt-right camp.
The Alt-right seems focused domestically on the internal workings of the culture wars. However, if Bannon is truly the voice of the Alt-right in the Trump Administration, then the extension of the domestic vision will flow outward into the world. That would make Islamic extremism and illegal immigration the two key provisions of US foreign policy.
This tune plays well to the neocon crowd only in the sense that the War on Terror will continue, but sealing the border is an affront to the neocon desire for cheap labor and free markets. It also impinges on the blueblood’s commitment to corporate American to provide them with endless supplies of human beings subsisting in near chattel-like conditions to toil in their factories, slaughterhouses, and sweatshops.
In fact, the neocons in many ways seemed flat out desperate during the election, becoming targets of pundits on both the right and the left. The Atlantic magazine ran a piece in June saying, “I opened my Twitter feed on Tuesday night to find liberals ridiculing Bill Kristol. Nothing unusual there. But this time, they had fresh ammunition: The news that Kristol’s much-hyped third-party presidential candidate will be little-known National Review contributor David French.
By Thursday morning, the mockery had migrated to television. On Morning Joe, the mere mention of Kristol’s name evoked laughter. “Bill needs to take a vacation. Like a long one,” declared co-host Mika Brzezinski. Later she added, “He’s been wrong. Sorry. He’s been wrong about Trump, and if you’re going to get behind someone who can really rival Trump, you need to get behind somebody who can really rival Trump.”
The neocons are so anti-Trump that, in a bizarre move, they also tried to run a former CIA officer by the name of Evan McMullan during the 2016 election in the hopes of derailing the Trump train before the inauguration. It went nowhere. Some Democrats have suggested the Republican Party is simply waiting for a scandal to surface that will ensnare Trump, and after the impeachment, Mike Pence can take the reins and steer the boat back on course. Such thinking is wishful, and dismissing the influence of the Alt-right and Alt-lite on American politics is mistaken.
The genie is out of the bottle. The Old Conservatives have become the New Conservatives. The fight will rage on between all three of these groups, but the old guard has not had a voice this strong since the 1950s under Eisenhower. No matter how things shake out, Steve Bannon became the guiding force in opening the door for Donald Trump to allow a rejuvenated conservative movement to once again make headway to the forefront of US politics. Whether the neocons or the bluebloods can snatch that prize away from Trump is yet to be seen. Only time will tell.