An expanded version of remarks made by Kevin Cross of the Ft. Collins Community Action Network at the Ft. Collins Rally to Protect the Mueller Investigation held on November 8th, 2018
Does anyone here think we live in normal times? We do not live in normal times! Instead, we live in a transitional time. We are in the process of transitioning out of the era of neoliberal capitalism and into a new era. That new era will either be a new version of fascism – neo-fascism, if you will – or democratic socialism. Why is a transition coming, and why those two possibilities?
The countries of the Triad – the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan – began moving toward neoliberalism in the late 1970s. Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were two of its biggest champions. Though riven with injustice, it worked well enough for enough people to be a viable political-economic system for some four decades.
However, it has become increasingly clear since the crash of 2008 that neoliberal capitalism is incapable of solving two major problems confronting humanity: wealth and income inequality on the one hand, and multiple linked environmental crises on the other – the foremost of which is climate change.
The election of Donald Trump two years ago signaled the beginning of the end of the neoliberal era in the United States. Did his election surprise you? It certainly surprised me. Trump’s solutions to our two major problems have been to deny the reality of the linked environmental crises while attempting to keep environmental and economic refugees out of the U.S., and to divide the home population into those who supposedly deserve the American dream and those who don’t. In the first category are white, Christian, Republican native-born citizens of our country. In the latter category is everyone else, including people of color, non-Christians, non-Republicans, and recent immigrants.
These false solutions to our problems have been accompanied by the continued erosion of democracy, curtailment of civil liberties, and violence against those framed as the other. To say nothing of random mass shootings that seem designed to keep all of us in a permanent state of fear. We can expect those trends to intensify if we continue to move down the road toward fascism. Yet despite – or perhaps better because of all this – the stock market has soared to new heights, and few if any murmurs against Trump are raised from the corporate suites.
The solutions democratic socialism would offer – if we can dream for a moment – would be a green New Deal that would lift everyone up while addressing the climate crisis and other environmental crises, Medicare for all, and post-secondary education for all who wanted it. Democratic socialism would extend democracy to the economic sphere, instead of curtailing it in the political sphere. And we can also hope that it would bring about a foreign policy, a trade policy, and financial assistance to other nations that would help people stay in their own countries and not be forced to emigrate abroad due to extreme levels of violence, environmental crises and lack of economic opportunity.
But back to the present moment! The day after the mid-term elections, in which Democrats – including two who identify as democratic socialists – regained control of the House of Representatives, two remarkable – in a bad way – things happened. First, CNN reporter Jim Acosta confronted Trump at a post-election news conference for labeling the caravan of refugees from Central America as a group of invaders. Trump attacked Acosta for doing this, and a heated exchange ensued. Acosta wound up being banned from the White House – all for defending a group of impoverished, miserable refugees from countries that have suffered as a result of U.S. military, political, and economic intervention for the past century and a half or so. The message sent to news organizations was that they need to avoid comforting the afflicted and afflicting the powerful – namely, Trump. If this trend continues, Fox will perhaps soon be the only news organization allowed to report from the White House.
And of course right after this outrageous treatment of Jim Acosta, Trump announced that he was going to fire Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and replace him with Matthew Whitaker. Now in most ways, I won’t be at all sorry to see Jeff Sessions go. Jeff Sessions did just about everything his boss wanted him to do – except for one thing. And that was that he recused himself from the Mueller investigation. As a former senior member of Trump’s presidential campaign, Sessions knew that it would be wrong for him to oversee an investigation into potential wrong-doing by that very campaign. We have to credit him for that shred of decency. But of course, Trump could not accept that. He waited until after the mid-term elections, though, before pouncing on Sessions. Matthew Whitaker, who has called the Mueller investigation a witch hunt, would likely quickly quash that investigation if left to his own devices. And then Trump could avoid the legal consequences for any wrong-doing Mueller might uncover, and continue to operate above the reach of the law.
John Gascoyne just spoke of his willingness to engage in civil disobedience if the Mueller investigation is indeed halted. That’s awesome, but there is something all of us can do now to help prevent that outcome. And that is to call our members of Congress immediately and insist that they support legislation – which has already been introduced in both Chambers – to protect the Mueller investigation. Jared Polis – though recently elected Governor – is still our Representative in the House. We need to call both of our Senators, too – Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner. Making our voices heard on this matter is an important step to take in resisting the neo-fascism personified by Donald Trump. Please do it, and do it soon!