What is it?

Yesterday Trump’s lawyer Alan Dershowitz made the astonishing and dangerous claim at the impeachment trial that a president could not be removed from office for demanding political favors if he believed his re-election was in the national interest.

It makes me wonder what motivates him? Is it money? Is it notoriety and fame? Is he a Trump lover? Is he a true believer like Barr, who sees himself as a soldier in an existential culture war? Is he simply corrupt to the core?

The danger of the right

This is an excerpt from a presentation I made to the Communist Party’s convention in 2014. It still retains relevance:

“I mention this because some on the left – even in our own party – are ready, if not to vacate, then at least to dial down on the struggle to defeat right-wing extremism. A few go a step further, claiming that the effort to defeat right-wing extremists is a retreat from the class struggle. None of these claims hold up in the court of life.

In the first place, this strategy has stymied the right wing’s most extreme plans to restructure political, economic, and cultural relations in a deep-going, permanent, and thoroughly reactionary way. No small achievement; in fact, an enormous achievement!

Second, victories – some of great import garnering fewer headlines – have been won. And these victories have made a difference in the lives of tens of millions.

Third, the emerging movement against the right doesn’t yet have transformative capacity, but it’s closer to acquiring it today because it has consistently battled the right.

Fourth, there is no other way – and certainly no easy way – at this stage of struggle to get to a future that puts people and nature before profits other than to battle and defeat right-wing extremism.

Finally, the struggle against the right is a form of the class struggle. In fact, it’s the leading edge of the class (and democratic) struggle at this moment. Only someone with a dogmatic cast of mind would think otherwise. Struggle, class and otherwise, never comes in pure forms.

I wish this stage of struggle could be skipped too in favor of something sexier, but it can’t. Political possibilities at every level are and will be limited as long as the right wing casts a long shadow over the country. Islands of progressivism in a sea, in which the right wing makes the biggest waves, are no substitute for a consistent and sustained struggle against the right on every level.”


Elections matter

Elections can shift the balance of political power in favor of democracy and social progress and the upcoming one surely fits into this category. And this is so no matter which of the Democrats is elected. The degree of the shift will depend on who the candidate is, the sweep of the victory at the Congressional as well as the presidential level, and the popular mandate attached to the victory. It will also turn on the extent to which millions remain engaged in the post-election period for neither the right wing nor the 1 per cent will throw in the towel.

The battle for public opinion

So far the Democrats are winning the battle for public opinion. And that is critical in this election year. The accepted wisdom not that long ago was the Trump would come out of the Senate trial with a head of steam, much like he did at the conclusion of the Mueller investigation. But there is reason to doubt that. He’s not getting the bounce in public opinion polls that he had hoped. If they are trending in any direction, it is against him.

Moreover, even if he isn’t removed from office, thanks to his supine Republican supporters in the Senate, his declaration of victory will ring somewhat hollow for many. To make matters worse for Trump, his culpability and organizing role in the “drug deal” will continue to drip out in the coming months.

Thus, the conclusion of the Senate trial this week isn’t the final curtain of this legal and political clash. The real verdict will turn on how this trial is digested and understood across the country in the months ahead and on election day. Adam Schiff and the other House mangers did their part, we should do ours.


I think that we should retire the term neoliberal. It becomes a poor substitute for a concrete analysis of existing conditions and trends. In too many instances, it leads to narrowly constructed politics, something that we don’t need at this moment.

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