Not great odds

I hear it said that Ron DeSantis is Trump without all the drama and personal excesses. He is more calculating, more focused, and smarter on the one hand and less ego driven and unpredictable on the other.

But what this comparison misses is Trump’s innate ability to energize, direct, sustain, and manipulate a mass base. When it comes to giving voice to people’s basest passions and assembling a cross class constituency on a national level, Trump so far is in a class by himself. Nor does DeSantis or any other Republican have the daring to recklessly act, to roll the dice like Trump demonstrated on January 6.

And it is naive to think that Trump won’t clean up some of his mistakes, including acting in a more measured way in some situations, if there is a ‘next time.’

Right wing extremist authoritarianism, fascist or some other variety, is in many ways an irrational system and its politics therefore rest to no small degree on demagoguery, lies, and perfomative politics as well as force. On this count and right now, Trump stands above DeSantis, admittedly no novice, by a considerable margin. That could change, but I doubt the odds makers in Vegas would give you great odds on that bet.

Class dimensions

The anti-working class dimension of the maga movement is either obscured or doesn’t figure prominently enough in the conversation and practice of the anti-MAGA coalition. Nor does the dominant role of sections of industrial, commercial, and finance capital that sit at the top of the movement see the light of day enough. This is a mistake. After all, the obscuring of the class dimensions of the MAGA movement narrows the reach of the anti-MAGA movement, masks its nature, demagoguery, and aims, and makes a decisive victory over this revanchist and retrograde movement a very steep climb.

Cut from a new cloth

Once again in the aftermath of the assassination of Tyre Nichols, we hear from many good people, “This has got to stop.” But we said much the same at the time of the last execution and the execution before that and the execution …

This almost predictable response should tell us that whatever has been done to address this national shame and crisis isn’t enough.

Which begs the question: What would be enough?

I’m not sure, but it seems to me that a beginning would include not simply a disbanding of this or that police unit, but instead a full blown reimagining of policing, along the lines of what activists and academics in this field have been advocating for a while now.

To this end, I would think that President Biden should name, after broad consultation, a representative commission to study and come up with proposals that would do exactly that and then put the full power of the White House and federal government behind its recommendations.

Others, with far more expertise and a far bigger voice than I have, may well have better suggestions as to how to proceed. The main thing here is that the approach be holistic and cut from a new cloth.

Culture of policing

The elimination of policies and practices that result in the horrific deaths of young people of color is imperative, but that will only happen with a total reshaping of the “culture” of policing – a culture that is racist, misogynist, homo, trans, and xenophobic, anti-working class, and lawless. Bad apples there are, but weeding them out of a culture that routinely breeds bad apples is no solution.

No outlier

The Republican Party has become a celebrant of violence. This was not always the case. What we are seeing is the rapid evolution of the GOP into a right wing, anti-democratic, proudly racist authoritarian party that is ready, with a big assist from social media, to deploy and normalize violence, official and extra judicial, to achieve its political aims.

Meanwhile, people across the country are rightly shocked and horrified by the police violence, barbarism, and brutality in Memphis that stole away the life of one more young African American. But what happened in Memphis isn’t an outlier in two senses.

First of all, it’s on a continuum on which other victims of police assassinations are found. But it is also part of the normalization of violence in our politics and culture that is the handiwork of the Republican Party and the MAGA movement. One shouldn’t be separated from the other. They feed off each other and both have to be addressed and ended.

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