By becoming the obvious boil in the body politic and personifying the most venal characteristics of U.S. plutocrats, Donald Trump has done the republic the enormous favor of stripping bare the power relationships in our society. This is becoming ever clearer with every new outrage as the midterm elections of 2018 approach.
This is one reason that, rather than respond with epithets and anger, the true small-d democrats in the United States must vote against Trump's allies and work to undo the plutocracy in every way. Not for the first time, there is a broad awareness of this reality. We
need to defend the civil rights won so far and expand democracy to
include economic and social rights.
History teaches us that it is doubtful that the United States was ever a democracy — that is largely an as yet unrealized aspiration.
At its founding, the states, which regulated voting rights, allowed only male, free property owners to participate in electing political decision-makers. By law, this was in theory overthrown with finality by the 1965 Voting Rights Act and a 1972 Supreme Court decision (Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533); however, this is being undone by clever, largely Republican-inspired voter suppression tricks.
Moreover, even among the participating great unwashed, there existed a broad group of Americans of Northwestern European origin who lived in a near-poverty of under-education and underemployment. These Americans directed their resentment not at the wealthy who kept them down, but at the easy marks whose skin was darker and spoke with accents other than their own.
Nor has the United States honestly and deservedly been a land of milk and honey with streets paved with gold for anyone with pluck.
Sure, some younger sons of the English nobility, who inherited nothing, became wealthy thanks to slaves. Also, some landless English, German and Irish people became small farmers thanks to land theft from the natives.
Even the great American bonanza after 1945 came at the expense of a Europe mired in rubble and was merely a temporary accident — rather than the fruit of American know-how"; the broad middle class was a temporary myth, it had never existed before and it is vanishing now. Until the New Deal's and Great Society's mildly heroic soft capitalism, it was sink or swim for everyone and most sank.
The true story of American wealth is more aptly told by a famous epigram of Balzac's: "Behind every fortune lies a crime." The American crimes of slavery, land theft and industrial warmaking made a few very wealthy and these few convinced a broader less fortunate group of "whites" that they shared in the bounty, when they never did.
It's the classic Trump con.
Trump inherited money — we now know that it was more than he should have thanks to tax dodges. His own business acumen expanded that by little more than an ordinary savings account would have yielded — as shown by his now discredited feverish attempts to misrepresent his fortune to financial reporters. Moreover, he has publicly spoken of his own base as "stupid," women as something to grab and ethnic minorities as criminal escaping effective outhouses.
Thank you, Donald Trump. The scales have now fallen off our eyes and we can see the work that remains to be done to make the United States reasonably closer to its historic aspirations and goals. First, let's get rid of you and your allies.