Who are the Tea Party, what is Mr. Pence, and why has Trump been sucking up to Russia?


Editor’s note: This is an article written by one of our comrades and may not represent the official position of EoT.


In “Trump and the Right to Oxygen”, we discussed that Donald Trump won the American presidency, to a great degree, because he was able to channel the social energy of a shrinking small town and rural majority which has long been expressing the sentiment that an establishment which does not represent them has been robbing them of their country, undermining their values, and killing the American dream. We also noted that the social energy that a candidate mobilizes to win an election does little to predict how he will behave once in office. What is much more important in this situation is to determine the nature of the candidate’s elite base.

Examining the interface between this social energy and the elite can help answer this question. Many point to the Tea Party movement, whose stated goal was to push the Republican mainstream to the right, as a grass-roots element of consolidating popular support for Donald Trump. It deserves a closer look. Emerging in what appeared to be spontaneous rallies in 2009 (though heavy corporate involvement through intermediary organizations would later come to light) shortly after the inauguration of Barack Obama to the office of President of the United States, and the controversial “Wall Street bailout”, the movement, through its very name, appealed to the revolutionary heritage of the United States, which its supporters believed the establishment in Washington had betrayed.

In arguing this position, Tea Party supporters remarked on the increasing burden of taxes and regulation on the private sector, along with the practice of the federal government instituting unfunded mandates onto its citizens, the most well-known of which is the so-called “Obamacare”, which makes it mandatory for citizens to buy a private service, fining those who fail to comply. As a solution to this problem, the Tea Party advocated for the American conservative panacea: limiting the powers of central government to interfere in the lives of its citizens and in the operations of the private sector. Not having a well-defined leadership, but giving such “orators” as Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin a popular following, the Tea Party stated that it would accomplish its goal by moving the Republican party platform toward a more Reagan-like conservatism. As evidenced by the change in rhetoric of Republicans in Congress, and of course, Donald Trump winning first the Republican nomination and then the Presidency, it appears to have succeeded.

The face of the Trump Presidency will largely be determined by one man, Vice President-elect Michael Pence, who now heads the transition team. The post of Vice President of the United States is far from decorative. In many ways, the United States in the 21st century was governed more so by Cheney and Biden than by Bush and Obama, and Pence has remarked that he sees Cheney as his Vice Presidential role model. When examining a key political figure like Pence, it is easy to become mired in useless biographical details, failing to see the forest behind the trees. Therefore, taking the methodological advice of Sergey Kurginyan, we will ask ourselves not “who is”, but “what is” Mr. Pence.

So, what is Mr. Pence? Mr. Pence is the quintessential Tea Party golden boy. He liked to repeat on the campaign trail that he is “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order”. His professed loyalty to traditional American values won him Tea Party backing and the governorship of Indiana. In his numerous interviews, he focuses on making the United States economically competitive by bringing back manufacturing jobs with a combination of the stick in the form of tariffs, and the carrot in the form of deregulation and tax cuts. Both he and President-elect Trump have said explicitly that they see China as the main competitor, and that the planned reindustrialization of the United States will happen at China’s expense.

Regardless of party affiliation, the American political elite agrees on one thing: the global hegemony of the United States must be preserved at all costs. The standard of living that the population of the US enjoys is to a great degree due to the dollar’s role as the de-facto world currency, and to American military power, which ensures that the dollar will retain this role in years to come. If the United States ceases to enjoy this privileged position, the resulting decline in living standards could potentially breed catastrophic social unrest. For this reason, the United States sees any country which accumulates enough power to potentially challenge American hegemony as its main enemy. Although Russia now plays a leading role on the international arena in thwarting the US in places like Syria and Ukraine, the economically more powerful country is, without a doubt, the People’s Republic of China.

In their critique of imperialism, both Hilferding and Lenin referred to uneven development under capitalism as the major driving force of conflict. According to this approach, World War I was inevitable, because the conflict between the rising power of the German Empire and the dominant but potentially declining power of the British Empire could not be resolved in any other way. According to this same model, the PRC and the USA in 2016 occupy the same respective positions as the German Empire and the British Empire did in 1913.

In proposing a de-facto trade war with the PRC, the new American administration proceeds on a path leading to direct confrontation with China. The recent break in protocol with Trump receiving a congratulatory call from the President of Taiwan is then seen through a considerably more ominous prism. And, just like Britain worked to secure Russia as an ally on the eve of World War I; so too, the United States dreads facing a united Russian-Chinese front in this new confrontation.

The purpose of Donald Trump’s complimentary rhetoric directed at Russia then becomes clear. This position did not win Trump a single additional vote. With all due respect to the Russian community in the United States, it is not a political force to be reckoned with. Indeed, the target of this rhetoric was not any group within the American electorate, but it was the Russian political elite. Having chosen the path of confrontation with the PRC, the US must drive a wedge between Russia and China, hopefully pulling Russia to its side in the event of a future global confrontation. Indeed, why put American lives on the line when Russian ones are in no short supply? This way the US can kill two birds with one stone.

But, the working-class Tea Party supporters weren’t thinking about preserving American global hegemony. They were worried about protecting their traditional values from the onslaught of cultural globalization. They were worried about providing for their families and keeping them safe from outside intrusion. So, did they succeed?

The central idea of American conservatism can be summed up as citizens protecting themselves from the tyranny of the state, and it is to these roots that the Tea Party returned. But, is it the tyranny of the state that is undermining the traditional values of Middle America while making it more difficult for working people to keep their heads above water? Things need to be called by their proper name. Their enemy is mutacapitalism, which has shed the ethical basis of capitalism as a detrimental relic. In their lust for profit, the mutacapitalists seek to replace citizens with consumers, and to free themselves from any constraints of social responsibility. A movement which is occupied in weakening the state, which mutacapitalism also seeks to destroy, is playing right into the hands of its tormentors. By weakening the state, American conservatives are readying the stage for a different tyranny. The tyranny of corporate neo-feudalism.

Source (for copy): https://eu.eot.su/?p=10212

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