Liberals in the United States are relatively educated, yet extremely inarticulate when it comes to Trump, his budget proposal, or the U.S. military.
In a typical email, Moveon.org sent out the message this week that nobody should confirm a Supreme Court nominee until it's determined that Trump is a "legitimate president." Until then, the U.S. military should go on slaughtering families for him? And once he's "legitimate" then a horrible fascist Supreme Court nominee should be approved? And what would it take for Trump to become "legitimate." According to the email, it would take proving that Trump didn't collaborate with Putin to rig the U.S. election. According to the linked video, it would take that plus seeing Trump's tax returns, plus proving that Trump is not violating the foreign emoluments clause. All three demands are given a xenophobic slant.
Of course Trump is blatantly violating the foreign and the stronger domestic emoluments clauses. That's not a question to be investigated or doubted. But there has been zero evidence made public by anyone that he and Putin "rigged" his election. However, examining what Robert Reich in the video linked above, and others, mean by "rigged" points to one of numerous reasons that considering the election "legitimate" would be ridiculous. What they mean is that there exists the slimmest possibility that Trump sent Putin and Putin sent WikiLeaks the emails that added extra evidence to the transparent sabotaging by the Democratic Party of its own strongest candidate. Under those known circumstances, the election is already knowable as illegitimate. Add to that Trump's losing the popular vote, Trump's openly intimidating and threatening voters, Trump's court battles against counting paper ballots where they existed, the absence of verifiable ballots in many places, the exclusion of voters by Republican Secretaries of State stripping them from the rolls, the exclusion of voters with ID requirements, the nomination of Trump by the corporate media through disproportionate coverage, the open and never-denied system of bribery used to fund all the campaigns, etc. Suggesting that explaining away a xenophobic fantasy would make such an election legitimate is disgusting.
The idea that Trump could be a legitimate president if he had been fairly and properly elected is equally outrageous. He's murdering people in large numbers in numerous countries. He's creating so-called laws through executive orders. These include unconstitutional acts of discrimination. He is opposed by the vast majority of the public. He is protected in Congress by the Democrats' weakness and inability to communicate honestly, but also by an election system rigged in many of the ways noted above, plus gerrymandering in the extreme.
As I have been pointing out, the liberal line on Trump's budget proposal is dangerously dishonest. Trump doesn't propose cutting anything at all. He proposes moving money from everything else to the military. Denouncing supposed "cuts" while avoiding mention of the military stirs up the "small government" advocates in favor of the supposedly smaller budget. It also licenses an infinite military. The current proposal plus an expected supplemental puts the military at 60% to 65% of discretionary spending. Every indication is that it could reach 100% before liberals would mention it, at which point they would cease mentioning the federal budget at all.
As Dave Lindorff notes, even when a liberal economist like Dean Baker claims to be explaining the budget and correcting misunderstandings, he just states what a small percentage of the budget various good but relatively tiny programs are, without ever mentioning the existence of the U.S. military. The reader is left to assume that every big government program is just 1% or 2% of the budget because, of course, there are hundreds of big government programs. The idea that the military costs money, much less the majority of the money, never enters awareness.
Saturday evening I attended a panel discussion that was part of the Virginia Festival of the Book, attended by hundreds of people in the old Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia. The director of the festival opened by denouncing Trump's supposed cuts to the arts, never hinting that Trump's proposal is actually to move the money to the military. She also declared a welcome to all immigrants -- which had nothing to do with the event at hand. One of the authors during the discussion brought up "alternative facts." This was clearly a forum in which it was not verboten to mention horrible crises that are upon us or to badmouth a U.S. president. And yet, nobody would ever mention where the money was moving or what would be done with it.
In fact, one of the books under discussion was related to work that had been funded by the U.S. military. More such work might be funded under Trump's budget than under the current budget. And many more people might die as a result. That uncomfortable situation was totally avoided. That African American women were able to work on rockets after World War II was discussed -- and the whole event was quite intelligent and positive and fascinating -- without ever mentioning the leading rocket makers and former utilizers of slave labor who came through Operation Paperclip, without even mentioning all the people and villages blown up over the years by the rockets. When a woman asked a question about the good work of other women mathematicians who helped create nukes at Los Alamos, only positive responses were heard. Sounds like another great book to be written, commented the moderator.
What 2017 U.S. liberalism fails to grasp, I think, is that -- while racism and misogyny are indeed outrageous -- other outrages do exist. The people Trump is murdering by the hundreds are mostly dark-skinned women, children, and the elderly. I spoke on a panel on Thursday on which one of the other speakers described a mass-murder operation in Yemen thusly: "We lost a naval officer." When did morality die? Nobody was lost. A participant in a mass-slaughter of families was killed in action. That's horrific. But so are all the deaths he helped cause, and all the deaths that will result from the cycle of violence to follow. And "we" suffer all of those deaths, not just the ones in U.S. uniforms.
If inventing nuclear bombs is noble because women were involved, if Trump's funding for "more usable" nukes is unworthy of comment because pretending he's shrinking the budget is the best way to fail and Democrats are addicted to failure, if wars no longer outrage, I can only draw this conclusion, which ought to thrill every liberal soul: Hillary Clinton has won after all.