Up until now, my motto for this year has been, "2018! What could possibly go wrong?" In two words: Donald Trump. And so, we collectively have come to expect the worst as normal. And yet today, as I was reading Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury, I actually began to be an optimist. Let me explain.
Having taken some college courses in Soviet Studies with Steven Cohen, I learned an awful lot about the inner workings of the Soviet Union and its Communist dictatorship. One of the things you need to know about studying dictators is that because of one man rule, there is an incredible amount of mystery about governmental processes. Who after all can claim to read the mind of our Boy King President?
Soviet specialists developed the principles of Kremlinology -- looking at who and in what order people were standing on top of Lenin's Tomb during May Day parades, or who was mentioned first to last at news articles on party congresses and such. Yes, to some extent this is a little like reading People magazine for authoritarian societies, but it does serve a purpose. Individual people do in fact stand in for greater forces in the society. If on on May Day parade X, Marshall Zhukov winds up standing closer to the Supreme Leader, then perhaps the Red Army is moving up in the charts as far as overall influence in the Kremlin.
The same thing applies with the Orange Wonder's White House. Frankly, Wolff's breathless descriptions of what kind of people Steve Bannon or Jared Kurshner are left me kind of cold. I would rather go to the dentist than be seen in the same room as any one of the White House scum. But I was fascinated about the "team of rivals" anarchy that appears to be the daily operational grind near the Oval Office. This is an eternal feature of American government.
Just as in the early days that Lenin had Bukarin, Zinoviev, and Trotsky -- so Trump has depended on Bannon, Kushner, and whoever the Chief of Staff is whether it was Priebus or Kelly. As with any dictatorship, there can be sudden falling outs, and we have all seen the quick coming and going of Bannon and Priebus among Trump's most central group. But the fun part of Kremlinology is that if you know the players, the political movements get very interesting.
And so we've seen Bannon ultimately replaced by Steven Miller. And Reince Priebus's job is now filled with Gen. John Kelly. Kushner / Javanka are not going anywhere, since they are family. But for the time being they may be off on the far end of the line ideologically speaking for the May Day parade.
Steven Miller is now playing patty-cake with General Kelly, but more importantly, Steven Miller is a protege of the Mercers -- those wacky maladjusted libertarian billionaires. Miller/Banon are portrayed as Trump's id. He's said to listen to them rant the way an old codger turns on Rush Limbaugh on the radio. But rumor has it that Kelly is on thin ice, and all knives are aimed at Miller's back. Miller is so hated by everyone else that I think he will soon suffer the same fate as his former boss. Reince Priebus brought Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell on board for legislation in 2017 that was good for Der Trumpster, but this is an election year and it's highly doubtful that any kind of legislation will go through Congress. So much for Congressional Republicans But think about this? Where is ourleader as I write? In Davos! No doubt this is the doing of Javanka.
So by our standards of White House-ology, it would appear as if Javanka are in fact on the upswing after all. Blood is thicker than water, particularly with the Donald. Meanwhile, we have the pronouncements of former RNC head Michael Steele, who this week told Christian fundamentalists to "shut the hell up. You people have been telling me what to do for all my life, and I'm sick of it."
Here we have to go to other evidence. Former Bush aide Michael Gerson wrote an opinion piece today talking about the flaming immorality of the fundie Christers who are wedded to their cheap political concerns more than they are wedded to the Ten Commandments or the teachings of Jesus. At this point, I am willing to go out on a limb and predict that this criticism of the Christian Right will not only continue, but it will intensify.
Up until now, the wedding of GOP moderates to the Tea Party / Christer position has confounded the entire spectrum of the left. The answer to this shotgun wedding is that the establishmentarian wing of the GOP has been afraid to declare war on the Christers -- fearing their power and retribution at the ballot box during the primary and general elections. But there has been a practically unbroken string of Democratic victories lately, due to Republican defections and revulsion against both Trump and the weirdo candidates that the Mercer / Bannon faction has put forward.
Only the most obvious example is the miracle in Alabama, where Doug Jones defeated the seemingly invincible Roy Moore. Jones' victory was due in fact to a 20% defection within the Republican voters. And this 20% defection has been more or less standard in other special elections. And polling evidence indicates a slow but steady uptick in the numbers of Republicans who are abandoning ship in both public opinion polling and special elections.
Besides the obvious scepter of massive Democratic victories this year, there is another historical factor that I believe is being overlooked. First, I am counting on hostile criticism of right wing Christian hypocrisy to steadily increase. I saw yet another mea culpa from a former GOP fundie who said that he can't take the theological blind spot that castigated a relatively moral man like Barack Obama with the permissive love fest for the notorious moral degenerate that we call the President of the United States.
If you actually had deep meaningful conversations with the religious Trump faithful, you would probably find deep silence when you questioned them on matters of faith for things like rape, multiple sexual assaults, and paying hush money to porn stars. If they do have answers, they would have to say that their support for Trump is predicated on his support of anti-woman and anti-gay policies and court appointments and nothing more. And here we come to other periods of American history at the end of right wing Christian dominance in society.
Think about Prohibition for example. Prohibition ended in 1933, and that was the nail in the coffin for people like Aimee Semple McPherson or Rev. Billy Sunday. The religious right literally stole away like thieves in the night, totally exiting the American political stage. Politics for the faithful in the Depression was seen as the Devil's work, and many people in Christian communities felt that it was far more important to tend to the needs of individuals in their congregations rather than to engage in the filthy fleshpots of American politics.
Because of what I see happening to the Bannon / Miller / Mercer factions inside the White House coupled with the growing deservedly vicious establishment GOP attacks on the current holes in fundie morality -- I predict that the religious right wing in this country will melt and disappear faster from the stage than almost anyone could have anticipated.
I have said time and time again, that the long term decline of the far right wing was identical to the death of the New Left from 1968 onwards. If the attacks from mainline Republicans does continue and intensify, it will shame the religious right to the far end of the line on top of Lenin's Tomb. And November may in fact be a Democratic blue tsunami. It's even possible that our POTUS may soon begin to veer left, reflecting the policy mix advocated by Javanka. And perhaps, some day in the not too distant future, (2020?) we can look forward to a Democratic control of the White House and Congress.
Now if we can only avoid falling into Great Depression II this year -- things might be sunnier than we can imagine!