Counter Trumpism By Ending the Conditions That Created It

People actually interested in ending Trumpism would be promoting an end to the corruption, opacity, a uniquely awful electoral system, and to neoliberal policies making Americans poorer and poorer, writes Caity Johnstone.

2016 Trump rally. (Michael Candelori/Wikimedia Commons)

By Caitlin Johnstone

The U.S. political/media class have been pushing hard for more authoritarian policies to stave off the threat of “domestic terrorism” in the wake of the Capitol riot.

President Biden, who was already working on rolling out new domestic terror policies well before January sixth, confirmed after the riot that he is making these new measures a priority.

Political internet censorship is becoming increasingly normalized, anti-protest bills are being passed, and now we’re seeing liberals encouraged to form “digital armies” to spy on Trump supporters to report them to the authorities.

And an amazingly large percentage of the U.S. population seems to have no problem with any of this, even in sectors of the political spectrum that should really know better by now.

“What else can we do?” they reason. “What other solution could there possibly be to the threat of dangerous fascists and conspiracy theorists continuing to gain power and influence?”

Well there’s a whole lot that can be done, and none of it includes consenting to sweeping new Patriot Act-like authoritarian measures or encouraging monopolistic Silicon Valley plutocrats to censor worldwide political speech. There’s just a whole lot of mass-scale narrative manipulation going on to keep it from being obvious to everyone.

The way to stem the tide of Trumpism (or fascism, or white supremacism, or Trump cultism, or whatever term you use for what you’re worried about here) is to eliminate the conditions that created it.

Trump was only able to launch his successful faux-populist campaign in the first place by exploiting the widespread pre-existing opinion that there was a swamp that needed draining, a corrupt political system whose leadership does not promote the interests of the people.

Conspiracy theories only exist because the government often does evil things and lies about them with the help of the mass media, forcing people to just guess what’s happening behind the opaque wall of government secrecy.

People only get it in their heads that they need a trustworthy strongman to overhaul the system if the system has failed them.

People who are actually interested in ending Trumpism would be promoting an end to the corruption in the political system, an end to the opacity of their government, an end to their uniquely awful electoral system, and an end to the neoliberal policies which have been making Americans poorer and poorer with less and less support from the government which purports to protect them.

But these changes are not being promoted by the U.S. political/media class, because the U.S. political/media class speaks for an empire that depends on these things.

Without corruption, the plutocratic class couldn’t use campaign donations and corporate lobbying to install and maintain politicians who will advance their interests.

Without government secrecy, the oligarchic empire could not conspire in secret to advance the military and economic agendas which form the glue that holds the empire together.

Without a lying mass media, people’s consent could not be manufactured for wars and a system which does not serve their interests.

Without widespread poverty and domestic austerity, people could not be kept too busy and politically impotent to challenge the massive political influence of the plutocrats.

So the option of stopping the rise of Trumpism by changing the system is taken off the table, which is why you never hear it discussed as a possibility in mainstream circles. The only option people are being offered to debate the pros and cons of is giving more powers to that same corrupt system which created Trump, powers which will be under the control of the next Trumpian figure who is elevated by that very system.

You’re not going to prevent fascism by creating a big authoritarian monster to stomp it into silence, and even if you could you would only be stopping the fascism by becoming the fascism. To stop the rise of fascism you need to actually change. Drastically. Believing you can just make it go away without changing your situation is like believing you can avert an oncoming train by putting your hands over your eyes.

There is no valid argument against what I am saying here. Saying the powerful won’t allow any positive change is just confirming everything I’m saying and confirming the need to remove the powerful from power. Saying that ending corruption, government secrecy and injustice would just be giving the terrorists what they want would be turning yourself into a bootlicker of such cartoonish obsequiousness there aren’t words in the English language adequate to mock you.

Yes, change is desperately needed. Yes, the powerful will resist that change with everything they have. But the alternative is letting them plunge the world into darkness and destruction.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.   Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article was re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Donate securely with Paypal


Or securely by credit card or check by clicking the red button:


22 comments for “Counter Trumpism By Ending the Conditions That Created It

  1. DH Fabian
    January 25, 2021 at 11:40

    It’s simply too late. One can’t grasp our political situation (much less, how to deal with it) “from the middle, out.” It’s no longer possible to build a strong enough campaign (much less, a movement!) to push back against the hard right. We spent years talking about this, and liberals spent years ignoring it. In this long-sinking capitalist empire, we’re middle class vs.poor, workers vs. those left jobless, further pitted against each other by race. What people care about the most, is whether they have the means to keep their families together, housed and fed.

  2. Andrew Stretton
    January 25, 2021 at 02:29

    There is indeed an argument against what you are saying Caitlin, it’s just that you are either not aware of it, or don’t want to go there…

    “All reformers who are not intelligent Egoists or endowed with the genius of Egoism continually render themselves ridiculous by complaining of monopolists and tyrants. Thereby they proclaim their Moralistic superstition. Their method is abortive. It can at the best lead people from one form of trustful dependence to another. At the worst and often, it causes people to commit acts of ill considered hostility and to indulge in sentimental declarations which enable cool and intelIigent masters to incite stronger forces against the reformers. Reform, indeed, is a word for conservative mediocrity. Egoism when understood by the many means nothing less than a complete revolution in the relations of mankind, for it is the exercise of the powers of individuals at their pleasure, and not a plea for their “rights”.”

  3. zhu
    January 24, 2021 at 22:37

    It’s pretty obvious that both the D and R teams are only interested in issue very high in the hierarchy of needs. If you’re gay and homeless, gay marriage is not terribly important to you. Money for food and shelter is a bigger need.

  4. DJ
    January 24, 2021 at 21:41

    Spot on. The capital would not have been overrun if citizens thought that congress actually worked for them.

  5. KiwiAntz
    January 24, 2021 at 20:07

    I’m afraid you can’t reform America’s rotten, Neoliberal system?Although Caitlin has made suggestions on how to accomplish reforms, it just isn’t going to happen, not now, not ever under the current two party dictatorship? The only way for change to occur is for this entire corrupt & irredeemable system to be allowed to implode in a controlled demolition, only then can you start again from scratch with a clean slate! It’s going to happen anyway whether people like it or not, America’s collapse is inevitable as every former Empire in History can attest & has suffered the same fate? The 20th Century was the American Century but the 21st Century will be the Chinese Century with the rise of a new Superpower! The only question that must be asked is how America responds to this decline, will it go down with a whimper, or out with a bang like a shooting star, flaming out in a final blaze of glory? Watch this space?

  6. Ciara Grace
    January 24, 2021 at 19:13

    Trump is because of the way DC is.
    Corrupt, lying, deceitful .
    Decades of forcing laws on us.
    Decades of broken promises.
    Decades of robbing us.
    Corruption to their core.
    Lying, deceitful Politicians.
    Trump came in and changed everything.
    He kept his word to those who voted for him.
    He stood firm against all that endless hateful noise that surrounded him.
    Most ‘politicians’ would have caved by the 3rd month of vicious attacks like he got.
    But he pressed forward and did what he planned to do because he was not sent there
    to get along with the rest. He left DC the same exact person as when he came in.
    DC didn’t change him because he is not DC.
    He stayed Citizen Trump and the people adore him.
    His return will be soon, his supporters await him. We are not going away and
    we are not shutting up. We are at the beginning. It’s going to be epic.

    • BRUCE Hitchcock
      January 25, 2021 at 14:01

      Better, cheaper healthcare. No .Smaller trade deficit. No .Ending wars. No .Manufacturing jobs . No.
      The same old tax cuts for the wealthy and attempt to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.
      What are YOU talking about ?

    • Piotr Berman
      January 25, 2021 at 20:15

      Trump did not deliver a single major promise. His major talent is salesmanship, but he had no idea or inclination how to turn any of his policies into reality. I can list many examples of botched or insincere attempts, and I am yet to see a positive example. He botched “showing criminality and deceit of RussiaGate” that was patently stupid for his narrow interests — and lamentable for the public interest, so it seemed that he is stupid to a large degree. Other examples can be explained by his narrow perspective of a very rich person who empathizes with people like himself.

  7. Allan Millard
    January 24, 2021 at 18:00

    This is one of the best articles Johnstone has written – succinct, objective, and solidly grounded in political economy. (Henry A. Giroux should take note.) I expect that few USians will be objective enough to accept that the USA is a plutocracy, not a democracy, and I also expect that few USians realize that the USA is not a beacon of hope and liberty for people beyond its shores (and land boundaries too, for that matter). “American exceptionalism” is a uniquely USian delusion.

    One might start with the fact that the USA has never had a revolution. The ruling aristocracy (land- and slave-0wners) set up a revised version of the plutocratic colonial rule. Structures were put in place (called the “constitution”) to ensure that dangerous ideas of the Enlightenment, of the French Revolution, and of the consolidation of real power in the House of Commons in the Westminster System would not take root in the new nation. Sure, some of the Founding Fathers talked a good game and some really believed they were launching a brave new world of liberty (for some). But the framework did not match the ideals.

    Take but one example: The U.S. Senate. Is there a more undemocratic body anywhere else in the so-called free world? Wyoming has as many senators as California. They are elected by an unfair system often called first-past-the-post which loads the dice against any challenge to the Dem-Repub duopoly. And to make sure the two branches of the plutocracy win every time (with rare exceptions like Sen. Bernie Sanders) ‘Citizens United’, which is legalized corruption, allows them to buy the Senate. Fifty senators from the smallest states (by population) are enough to rule or, in some circumstances, stymie the vast majority of people represented there. No one can argue that that is democratic, and, to give credit where it is due, many USians do recognize that the senate was indeed set up to be a brake on democratic and anti-slavery tendencies.

    What to do? The first step would be to remove almost all power from the U.S. Senate because it is so unrepresentative and place power in the hands of the House of Representatives. It won’t happen, of course, because, as Johnstone points out, the plutocrats who wield power are never the ones who will willingly give it up.

    There are other, more do-able things that could be done to make the US system somewhat democratic. The Electoral College could be changed, without constitutional amendment, by the States (acting individually) to assign their College votes in accordance with the proportion of the popular vote won by a candidate. It’s not difficult or radical and, lo and behold, national offices like the presidency would be won with a majority of the national popular vote.

    Another do-able thing is to stop the gerrymandering by having independent commissions, with real authority, review and set congressional district boundaries after the decennial census. It’s a quaint democratic idea to have the majority of seats elected by a majority of the voting public. And of course the elections for Representatives should be by proportional representation or at least by run-off elections.

    Once upon a time there was such as thing as trusteeship for the use of the public airways – not so important now with the rise of social media – but there is something rotten when an organization like Faux News is allowed to use its privilege to broadcast lies and misinformation. I guess the FCC is long dead, but in many countries Faux News would lose its license. Another aspect of the trusteeship idea is that in times of elections the radio and TV networks have a public service duty to give a certain amount of air time to every registered candidate. When one looks at the way the media let Trump hog the limelight in 2016 or the lop-sided coverage given to Clinton over Sanders one must think that there has been an abuse of the public license. As it is, the Fourth Estate still plays a huge role in society and in the USA it is largely not on the side of democracy.

    Lastly, put Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine” on the curriculum in every public high school. That might be a good start to help with the problem of “low public education” in the USA.

    • Dan Yazbek
      January 25, 2021 at 09:27

      Great comment Allan. I couldn’t agree more.

      • Miranda M Keefe
        January 25, 2021 at 13:22

        I could agree more if he had added CNN & MSNBC to the list of biased cable news.

    • Piotr Berman
      January 25, 2021 at 20:18

      A good thing about Senate is that it cannot be gerrymandered. State lines may cut the country into pieces of very different sizes and populations, but not purposefully design for the benefit of one party.

  8. John Drake
    January 24, 2021 at 14:55

    Whenever there is a significant social or political disaster, politicians jump on the bandwagon to make new laws concerning said social or political disaster. It makes it appear like they are doing something other than sitting on their butts. This happened after 9/11 with the infamous patriot act.

    The latter was an exercise in hypocrisy as 9/11, at the least, happened due to ignoring of intel and the standing down of NORAD.

    The point being there were no new laws needed. In fact, if the government and the airlines has mandated heavy locked cockpit doors, as Israel did, the plane attacks would not have happened. Adequate passenger screening as TSA does now would have stopped it (for those who weren’t around then passenger screening was done by private rent a cops with poor training and/or smarts). All this could have been done under existing laws with some administrative changes.

    The only thing I can see is getting rid of all these open carry laws, which are state based. But the elimination of which run into trouble in supreme courts. Note that DC has very tight gun laws, only a couple of the Trumpers were dumb enough to be caught packing.

    Notably California banned open carry in 1967 in response to the Black Panthers’ armed patrols aimed at stifling police violence in their communities. Now though its ok for fanatic, right wing white people to run around with assault weapons, intimidating state legislatures and others (Michigan and other places).

    Solutions, of many, involve rebuilding the labor movement. The labor movement not only creates power it educates workers so they don’t get conned by fake populists. Another is for the Democrats to return to their old labor base from their present obsequiousness’ to the elites, the “well degreed” professionals, and, of course, the non Republican rich. See Frank, Listen Liberal.

  9. Skip Edwards
    January 24, 2021 at 13:36

    John Chuckman, as always you leave us with intelligent, useful words: “America is in fact a plutocracy with a bit of democratic window-dressing, a plutocracy which maintains an empire, at great cost to its ordinary people, to enrich itself.

    And it is starting to show serious cracks and strains at home.

    Joe Biden puts on a pleasant face and many welcome it after the foul and ignorant Trump, but Biden is in a position to change very little.” John Chuckman

    At 75 and a USAF Vietnam Veteran as a C-141 pilot who got the opportunity to virtually see the world and meet its people in addition to witnessing our empire at work, I constantly experience a feeling of shame at the actions of my government. Not only is Joe Biden not in a position to change much, he is in a position not to change much. He is very wealthy, runs with the wealthy and has the power many of his ilk desire. What our nation’s “leaders and controllers” do to our own and other people, young and old/male and female in order to achieve and hold power over others and gain personal wealth from that power is immoral and shameful. The vast majority of people around the world just want to, first and foremost, live in peace with dignity. As much as we Americans are told over and again that we are something special we need only to look at our founding on the backs of slavery and the so called “manifest destiny” which was actually the theft of a weaker population’s land. Slavery and theft is our backbone and our foundation; and, it is a history which continues to this very day.

  10. Jonny James
    January 24, 2021 at 12:53

    Indeed. Getting working-class and middle-class folks to support elites that work against their interests is brought about primarily by a sophisticated and pervasive system of misinformation: the BigMediaCartel (the “liberal media”)

    Most Americans, even highly-educated ones, are woefully misinformed about serious economic and political issues. I believe the US has the most sophisticated and pervasive system of misinformation in the history of the world.

    Even if you are able to educate yourself to see what one’s own interests really are, it is not possible to vote for those interests. “The US is an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery” (Jimmy Carter) In the US “there is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs” (Chris Hedges)

    In short, when 95% of the information is controlled by a mega oligopoly (who own each-others stock) it is almost impossible to make an informed policy decision.

    What can we do? Not much but tell everyone we know to read CN and other truly independent journalism. This is especially important since Techno Totalitarian Finance Capitalism makes it more and more difficult for independent voices to be heard.

  11. January 24, 2021 at 12:04

    There is probably a consensus about the tools of the powerful to control the minds and behavior of the masses, that they really do exist in broad daylight and are getting better and better. More ominous, the control of information rests in their hands which denies an essential vehicle for reform. Taking to the streets is an act of desperation, and the very act of doing so creates even greater opportunities to make the situation worse.

    Again, we suffer not from description of the phenomena but a prescription to address it.

  12. dfnslblty
    January 24, 2021 at 11:44

    Great look at the current situation.
    I believe Biden can be the cheerleader who begins the necessary changes in The Public’s perceptions.
    The Public – The Citizens – We The People must demand the changes of Biden/Congress.
    Defund the military, regulate financial institutions, stop emoting!

    Keep writing, C J

    • dfnslblty
      January 24, 2021 at 11:46

      should be:
      Stop empiring!

  13. John
    January 24, 2021 at 11:31

    Why must we pretend that the government doesn’t do things we cannot prove that are secret and “conspiratorial” in nature? I wish we could agree to stop using the CIA’s smear term for those who question shallow official narratives. Why is it ok to question some official narratives and others are taboo? I understand you don’t want to lose your audience, or to be banned, but how about at least avoiding the term “conspiracy theory”? It just makes you part of the problem.

    • Tom Kath
      January 24, 2021 at 18:50

      Thank you John. “Conspiracy Theories” are directly proportional to Conspiracies. Another question that might need to be asked seriously, is what “Fascism” really is and if it could possibly be as bad as what we have? Some of these terms, like Socialism, Communism, or even Nationalism, have extremely outdated “horror” value.

  14. January 24, 2021 at 10:10

    A recent CBS News poll showed stunning results of how Americans today view “other people in America and domestic enemies” as the biggest threat to their way of life.

    The division in America is not something Joe Biden’s rhetoric can possibly heal.

    It is weak rhetoric and the divisions are deep.

    The depth of the division does reflect just disappointment in politics.

    America’s terrible inequality in wealth serves to magnify all the country’s other divisions. The poverty you can see in many parts of America is shocking, and it is not that far from extreme, sickening wealth.

    The privileged are just not willing to give up anything to help their fellow citizens, yet that is exactly what is required.

    America’s resources and the attention of its leaders go to the global empire.

    A trillion dollars a year is wasted on the Pentagon and the security services while America is the only advanced country in the world lacking a national healthcare system for ordinary people.

    The country’s politics are for money, by money, and of money. Both parties are richly supported by the donations of the wealthy.

    No matter which party you vote for, you get the Pentagon, the CIA, unlimited money in politics, wars, and empire.

    America is in fact a plutocracy with a bit of democratic window-dressing, a plutocracy which maintains an empire, at great cost to its ordinary people, to enrich itself.

    And it is starting to show serious cracks and strains at home.

    Joe Biden puts on a pleasant face and many welcome it after the foul and ignorant Trump, but Biden is in a position to change very little.

    • dave
      January 24, 2021 at 23:08

      Well said.

Comments are closed.