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Notes from the US

Notes from the US

Freedom’s long-running US correspondent Louis Further does his monthly roundup of some of the stories that have emerged over the last few weeks.


As we always say, elections (especially in an aggressively belligerent, capitalist system) are at best a largely artificial choice between two or more destructive, oppressive and acquisitive factions. In the long term, when looked at from the point of view of world history and the anarchist vision, there is not much clear water between Democrats and Republicans in the United States.

Yet – as ‘Notes from the US’ has maintained since the advent of Trump in particular – the stakes are very high now. Given the current operating conditions, such differences as there are invite us to be more immediately concerned by Republicans in power than Democrats.

The plans of the Republican Party are particularly damaging for everyone except the small, selfish, minority which stands to benefit. This is not because Republicans represent a greater threat to the sham US ‘democracy’ per se than do Democrats. It’s because their control of this system leads to more opportunities for damage than that system was designed to allow when developed in the Eighteenth Century.

Democrats have a slim majority in the Senate. It’s still not known whether that will be big enough to overcome the negative effects of the two right-wing senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. In the past almost two years, they have regularly been able to frustrate and defeat many attempts at decency that the rest of their party summoned up.

As things stood last weekend, it looks as though the Republicans in The House of Representatives will probably have a small majority. Theirs is not an entirely monolithic party: for Republicans to the fascist MAGA tail will do everything it can to wag the main ‘Republican Conference’ dog. But when it comes down to it, the party is likely to act as one because of the way voting legislatures work. After all, the vast majority of Republicans twice opposed impeaching Trump and boycotted the January 6th Select Committee on the attempted overthrow of the government in 2021.

There will not be enough votes in either chamber to override a presidential veto, something which Biden has said he will exercise if he thinks it necessary. But much time may well be wasted if the Republicans carry out their promises to impeach, ‘inquire about’ and generally try to retaliate against (leading) Democrats for their attempts (blocked by Republicans) to curb the excesses of Trump. Some of the scariest figures on the far right have been promised more power: the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar have been promised key positions on congressional committees from which they were booted because of the objectionable, threatening, racist and generally foul nature of their behaviour and comments.

So we should be clear: a huge mass of voters in the recent midterms elections support a party which stands for:

• a denial of the imminence of ecological disaster. On the climate collapse and preserving life on earth the House will at best be inactive. More likely and more devastating are reversals it is likely to make of the modest gains made in the past two years. Indeed the (Democrat) chair of the House subcommittee which is currently charged with doing what it can to (appear to be) addressing the climate crisis, Kathy Castor, has suggested that Republicans would abolish that committee… “They have not really been partners in tackling the climate crisis.” There was next to no discussion of the environment during these midterm elections; no polls showed national concern about the imminent environmental disaster; few candidates spoke about the environment; there was little media coverage the most serious challenge which the United States – as a country in the world – faces.

• the supremacy of white people over black. There will be increased efforts to act on bigotry and fear in order to oppress people because of their race, gender and sexual orientation. In fact, anti-immigrant and racist oppression is likely to be accelerated. This is despite the fact, for instance, that over the last 10 years other human beings from outside the United States who stay longer than their visas permit account for twice as many cases of ‘illegal immigration’ as do ‘illegal’ border crossings. What’s more, it’s Canadians, not those fleeing oppression often originally engineered by the US in Central and South Americans, who figure in ‘overstay’ statistics.

• the right to decide who runs the country by armed and violent and deadly insurrection. Given the Republican party’s consistent refusal to acknowledge – let alone to seek facts about, reasons for, and ways to prevent – armed insurrection and the overturning of what passes for weak ‘democracy’ in favour of permanent rule by the far right, it is probable that the January 6 Committee will be dissolved. If it is, any chance of the government taking formal steps to prevent a repeat of overthrow slumps to none. Late last week, for example, Trump sued the January 6 committee in an attempt to avoid complying with a legitimate subpoena compelling him to give evidence to said committee. Many other newly-elected Republican lawmakers continue to downplay the severity of January 6 and distort what actually happened, and also refuse to obey the law when asked to do so.

• a denial of the right to even minimally adequate healthcare for those who cannot pay. Republican leaders have hinted at major changes to the safety nets of Medicare for health provision and Social Security – pensions for the retired. Dogma spuriously and foggily hinting at the value of ‘freedoms’ – really the right to elbow everyone else down in the interests of advancing oneself, as we have seen throughout Covid – is likely to drive a Republican agenda. This would also lead to significant deregulation. And so to the chaos and destruction of the planet. There will be even greater financial inequality through tax breaks for the rich.

Before assessing the dangers ahead, we can take away a couple of points from the midterm elections last week:

The polls’ predictions of a Republican landslide were inaccurate; in fact, the Democrats did better than any party has done in the midterms (the party of the sitting president loses on average 28 House seats and four Senate seats) since 1934. Some analysts see this as a sign that voters have begun to reject Trumpism and election lies. Time will tell. Candidates who were endorsed by Trump did less well than those who were not. Yet the former president’s grip on the Republican party appears, for the moment, to be as strong as ever. Yes, the electoral process seems narrowly to have skirted rigging and fixing by the Republican deniers – this time. Many are in place to rig and fix in 2024 though.

Many Republican candidates who were elected hold a variety of outrageous and appalling views: on the need to ignore the extinction of life on Earth, on health, on race, gender and lifestyles, on economic security and equality, and on violence to achieve their ends. One candidate, although he lost, Trump-endorsed John Gibbs in Michigan was an election liar and such a misogynist that he once stood for a society where women should not have the vote, still attracted 42% (over 142,000) of the votes cast in his candidacy for Congress.

Well over 200 election liars won seats in Congress, became state Governors and Secretaries of State (those largely responsible for organising and overseeing elections), as well as Attorneys General (states’ top legal posts) on 8th November. Many of these still explicitly deny that the last presidential election was not really won by Trump, and refuse to recognise Biden at all.

The winning senatorial candidate in Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, for instance, is known to have offered a physical slate (Yes, a big brown envelope) of false electors to then Vice President Pence on January 6 2021 in an attempt to falsify the result. Well over a million residents of that state awarded him victory, albeit by a narrow margin of one percentage point.

Indeed, the election results in a handful of ‘swing’ states are now certain to affect the results of the presidential election in two years’ time. On 5 November 2024 all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested. Over a dozen state and territorial governorships will also be decided then.


Thoughtful adults may ask themselves, Why on earth would other adults vote for a movement (Trump and the Republicans) whose approach to life is based on ‘Me first’ selfishness, bigotry, racism, white-male supremacy, destruction of the planet, inequality, lies, fear and hatred?

You have to think a little laterally to see why. But it does make sense when you remember that…

…these voters rely on confirmation bias: anything which doesn’t fit their view they ignore

…they have been brainwashed by disinformation and lies on the far right media sources, podcasts and by social media that seem to them to suggest that such a course is either justified and/or necessary

…they admire the narcissism of Trump and his ilk as strength; and want to advance it because it implicitly enhances their own sense of being powerful selves in a capitalist society where selfhood may, in fact, be effectively redefined as little more for them than their passive acts as consumers

…they are so poorly informed about how the world really works: two out of every three of those who live in the United States have never legally been abroad; because of the way in which geography and history are taught in US schools many voters are unlikely to have much of an idea of how other countries work and how the past explains and illuminates the present

… the median age of the voter is between 39 and 45, which also makes their understanding of the histories of fascism and other forms of oppression ‘shaky’; there is a good chance that they are unaware of the slaughter carried out in the twentieth century, say, in the name of ideologies not that far removed from current Republican policies

…many voters are similarly disadvantaged by the insufficient experience of (formal) logic; this would allow them to discard the fallacy which many use to justify their distrust of what those on the right call ‘Liberal’ thinking. They lump all radical, progressive and even Socialist ideas as bad. But not because they can explain how and progressive ideologies have developed. To those voting for MAGA candidates, such ideologies are bad merely and specifically because they are labelled ‘progressive’. And Progressive (radical, Socialist) ideas are bad – circular logic – because Progressives hold them

…many voters are specifically ignorant of the fact that collaboration and compassion are more effective motivators than those key values of oppressive capitalism which elbow neighbours out and down – especially when those who are actually their fellow humans have been repeatedly construed as the alien (of a different race or gender or lifestyle) ‘other’ necessary for Fascism to take hold. The ever-present threat of an enemy is a powerful and highly motivating one

…they have been persuaded that the ‘tribe’ to which they are attracted, which is really based on fiction, lies and belligerence, will somehow enable them to prevail and prevent their tribe (white, male, gentile etc) from being ‘replaced’

…they have been led to believe that might is right; and that the charisma which they find in the bombast of the leaders on the right is appealing in itself; anything else is weakness and to be deplored

…they put dogma ahead of common sense; they re-elected sadist Ron DeSantis in Florida despite the fact that – according to some estimates – many thousands of lives (more Republican voters than Democrat, actually) could be saved in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic if DeSantis acted responsibly

…they tend to believe that what they see as patriotism (trying to push everyone else down in elevating the United States) is worthy in and of itself

…statistically, voters generally vote against the sitting president (and party) in midterm elections. Maybe there is some comfort in the fact this is most definitely not what happened this month.

An obscene amount (US$900,000,000, or £791,000,000) has been spent on electioneering in 2022. Perhaps, more significantly, Republicans would not have had the advantages they now have if they had not actively and deliberately gerrymandered congressional districts in several states by redrawing them to give their party new seats, to protect and preserve those which Republicans are and were more likely to lose, and to try and ensure that Democrats in states where otherwise they could win (Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Texas in particular) fail to do so. It should be remembered that Democrats did the same but legal challenges prevented them from pushing them through.

Whatever the final result numerically, if the Republicans do move to advance reactive and proactive legislative agendas in the House of Representatives over the next two years that are in line with such approaches to life, things will be rough and tough.

Not to be ignored either are the number of trumpy governors, secretaries of state, and other local officials. Trump in the mix as a candidate or not. Because the former president is driven almost completely by pathological narcissism, there seems to be a good chance that he will divide – and/or otherwise diminish the effectiveness – of his party if he is unable to run unopposed in 2024. It’s been widely suggested that his consequent sulk will propel him to field his ‘own’ candidates and so split the vote. That would be entertaining to watch. Provided, of course, that the ever-present threat of the fascist militias – whether they support him, MAGAism largely independent of Trump, or both – does not materialise.


Towards the end of October, the campaign office of Democrat candidate for governor in Arizona, Katie Hobbs, was burgled – computer and photographic equipment were taken. Hobbs’ campaign manager, Nicole DeMont, emphasised that “…Secretary Hobbs and her staff have faced hundreds of death threats and threats of violence over the course of this campaign. Throughout this race, we have been clear that the safety of our staff and of the Secretary is our number one priority… for nearly two years Kari Lake [Hobbs’ Republican counterpart, election liar and trumpy racist] and her allies have been spreading dangerous misinformation and inciting threats against anyone they see fit… The threats against Arizonans attempting to exercise their constitutional rights and their attacks on elected officials are the direct result of a concerted campaign of lies and intimidation.” This could, of course, be an opportunist event and a complete coincidence.

Even before last week’s elections, the right was intimidating, threatening and lying. Outside the Maricopa County Juvenile Court building in Mesa, Arizona, two armed and masked men were caught on camera ‘overseeing’ voters using a drop box there. Arizona is one of many trumpy states where denial is rampant. Election officials have frequently been threatened in the state. One apparently typical email was sent to Hobbs (whose current job is to run the election process) and copied to other election officials, including Kori Lorick,  Hobbs’ director of election services. It read, “Attention ALL Corrupt and Treasonous Government Officials… If you C**t Lickers continue to f**k with the integrity of the AZ Elections…I guarantee you, We the People will remove you from office…Additionally, if you own a home…We will find you through the Tax Assessors Website…Remember the French revolution of 1799?? [sic: it was in 1789].”

Unhappy and frustrated individuals whose anger and ignorance are greater than their ability to exercise good judgement, lone wolves? Perhaps. The FBI’s own annual report on domestic terrorism suggests that the greatest threats these days do indeed come from individuals. But such people get their hatred and disinformation from somewhere. Several analysts who observe the mechanics of such things now talk persuasively about “directions” from the likes of Trump, social media and far-right outlets such as Fox ‘News’. They apparently now identify ‘targets of the week’, so to put it; then goad individuals into taking ‘directed’ action.

This seems to explain what happened to Paul Pelosi, spouse of House Speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi. The attempt to kill him was followed by a clutch of right wing public figures – from sitting and prospective legislators to the new owner of Twitter. That they should see fit to lie, mock, threaten, disinform, carp, demonise and otherwise pile hatred and venom on a family which has as much right to live peaceful lives – regardless of their political roles and views – takes the depths of the MAGA movement to new low. Many Republican politicians (including Trump) and far-right outlets mocked, cast doubt on, spread disinformation about the attack, and – essentially – displayed how pleased they were that the family of a politician they do not like had been seriously injured.


Several reports – like this one – were published in the run-up to the midterm elections highlighting the way in which inflation across many sectors in the US is in fact driven as much by the determination of corporations to maintain their profit margins as by unavoidable supply chain difficulties or economic forces.

Even the Vice-chair of the Federal Reserve, Lael Brainard, acknowledged the part that profiteering is playing in increasing inflation. Then Mike Konczal, director of Macroeconomic Analysis at the Roosevelt Institute, gave evidence to a congressional hearing last month; he too said that 54 cents of every dollar in increased prices is profit. Add to this the fact that a significant number of companies avoid paying (any) tax by using offshore ‘headquarters’ etc and it’s easy to see what’s really causing the inflation that worried many voters and so apparently caused them to vote as they did this month.

The annual report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed that fully 10% of households in the richest country in the world found it hard, or were unable, to feed their families in 2021. Over five million families missed meals and reduced their size because of poverty.


On the day when the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, issued yet another warning about governments’ inaction on the climate catastrophe (“There has been a tendency to put climate change on the back burner… If we are not able to reverse the present trend, we will be doomed.”) ahead of the COP 27 climate conference in Egypt, a new report by Greenpeace revealed that barely 5% of all plastic products are recycled in the US. At the risk of overstating the fact, the environment most definitely has not been an issue for the midterms.


A recent report by the international association of writers, PEN, highlighted the increasing prevalence of censorship and gag orders in schools and colleges. Subjects which the Republican party does not want discussed with young people – racism, LGBQT+ rights, gender, the adverse effects of the élites’ actions throughout North American history etc – are increasingly being banned. So far this year, in fact, there have been two and a half times as many concerted attacks on education this way as there were in 2021. This is having a knock-on effect not only on teachers’ morale but on staffing itself. Right-wingers on the school board which runs the Placentia-Yorba Linda School District (the equivalent of the LEA in the UK) in California, for example, recently banned critical race theory. The result? Half its student teachers have left.

The pronouncements by prominent racist, Kanye West, are also having consequences. Racist scrawlings, for instance, recently appeared in public spaces in Jacksonville, Florida, echoing West’s ‘thoughts’. Despite their anti-semitic content and tone, the city sheriff’s public information officer, T.N. Dash, denied this: “At this time, the Sheriff’s Office has not identified any crimes having been committed; the comments displayed do not include any type of threat and are protected by the First Amendment.”

Alarmingly, but hardly surprisingly, senior Republican congressperson, Jim Jordan tweeted “Kanye. Elon. Trump.” ‘Elon’, of course, is the new owner of Twitter, who seems set to encourage conspiracy theories, lies, disinformation and hate on his platform… he has already contributed to it himself with a lie about the attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

Louis Further

Image: Gilbert Mercier, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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