(I want to thank Max Elbaum for allowing me to post a note I sent to him in response to his recent analysis of the MAGA danger.)

Hi Max,

You probably saw this, but in case you haven’t, I’m sending it along. I’ve also been meaning to send you a brief note in response to your recent article/analysis of the MAGA threat. To begin, I thought it was excellent – the kind of analysis I don’t find in many other places – and was glad to hear that it appeared on various media sites and was well received. 

I do have a few thoughts upon reading it.

  1. If Trump fades as a result of his indictments and legal problems, it does change things in some ways. As unlikely as that is at this moment, if he is forced to withdraw as a presidential candidate, it’s not simply a case of the next guy up, as they say in sports, and full speed ahead. No one else, I would say, in the GOP’s galaxy of “stars” has demonstrated the same ability to mobilize and incite a mass base on a national level quite like Trump does. Nor has anyone else so single mindedly and brazenly – DeSantis comes close – declared his intention to lay waste to constitutional structures and rights, vitiate governing, juridical, and regulatory bodies, and arrogate to himself the sole right to declare war. Finally, no other candidate in the field has expressed the same overweening desire – again DeSantis isn’t far behind – to transform the state in general and the federal government in particular into a personal sinecure to enrich himself and his capitalist cronies, not to mention lock up his enemies and silence his critics in the media. In short, Trump’s form of personalized, dictatoral rule is a unique and nasty blend of fascistic and feudal elements, marinating in the sauce of racism, xenophobia, homo and transphobia, misogyny, and christian nationalism. Now I’m not suggesting that “no Trump no existential danger to democracy” or “no Trump,no MAGA. That would not only be foolhardy, but worse still disarming, at least to the few people that might take my opinion seriously. I would, though, expect the political dynamics and political terrain would shift, albeit in ways that are beyond my pay grade, if Trump is forced out of the race. 
  2. As breathtakingly reactionary as the Robert’s court is, Roberts does worry to a degree about the court’s legitimacy in the public mind. Sometimes to the point that he accedes to a degree to mass sentiment. Unlike some of his allies on the court, he possesses a tactical mind that can make him, at once, more dangerous as well as more susceptible to pressure from our side. 
  3. I wonder if your analysis would have been strengthened if you had drawn into the picture in a positive, dynamic, and fuller way the Biden administration, the Democratic Party, and the labor movement. If each brings their “A game” or something close to it to the elections next year, we will fight the good fight on much higher ground. If they don’t, the climb for all of us will be exceedingly steep. Thus, it seems to me, social justice, left, and progressive activists and organizations should engage these crucial political constituencies in a more robust way. Just as their success will surely hinge on what the progressive and social justice community bring to the table, the reverse is also true, but even more so.
  4. We spend, it seems to me, an inordinate amount of time talking and writing about the 1st Reconstruction and the necessity of the 3rd. But we give too little attention to studying and drawing lessons from the 2nd Reconstruction – an era of struggle that was complex, many sided, many layered, and rich in strategic and tactical shifts and innovations. There is little doubt in my mind anyway that such a study would serve us well at this exceedingly dangerous political conjuncture. And who better to write it than yourself.

That’s enough! Being Sunday morning, I hope it doesn’t sound preachy. I also hope you and your family are well. I’ll be, and happily so, on the Maine coast later this week where the temperature and humidity hover in the 70’s. Relief is in sight! Sam