August 28, 2017

Why is Deep State tolerating Trump as much as they have, unlike Flynn?

Exploring the topic of the Deep State waiting longer to neuter or remove anti-Establishment figures from Trump's administration who pose less of a threat due to having less political capital (Bannon, Gorka), vs. moving quickly against major threats who have lots of political capital with which to wage war against the Establishment (Flynn, Sessions), what does this framework suggest about how the Deep State is treating Trump himself?

He could not be more anti-Establishment, but how much political capital does he have to truly pose a threat? Within DC proper, he has less than zero political capital -- in the minds of Swamp members high and low, he owes them a political debt for burning down both parties' Establishments during the campaign. He is a new-comer to politics, so he has no connections, favors, blackmail material, etc.

On the other hand, he does have a form of political capital outside of DC -- the support of tens of millions of citizens who voted for him. So far, he has not applied that leverage to the enemies in DC, although now that he's targeting Jeff Flake for primarying, that could change and he could begin to regularly call on his citizen's army to take collective action in other ways against the Swamp.

This ambiguous status of Trump's political capital -- negative within DC, potentially high but largely unused among the people -- has led to an ambivalent treatment by the Establishment. Obviously he has been targeted by Deep State ever since taking office (indeed, earlier). And yet the Generals and other elite factions have not definitively pounced on him, although they are eroding what little power he came into office with.

You might say that his high rank is protecting him, but once Nixon pulled out of Vietnam and pursued detente with the Soviets -- a big no-no during the Cold War -- the CIA caused the Watergate burglary and drove him out of office. But Nixon had lots of political capital, having been a lifelong politician, former two-term VP, and gaining more during his first term as president. That's what made his anti-hawk goals so dangerous -- he had enough political capital to actually deliver on them.

With Trump, who has no such power to pull out of Afghanistan, or to "get along with Russia," the Deep State may be deciding to put him mostly on the back burner, and temporarily move him to the front burner whenever it looks like he might use his leverage by rallying his supporters into what could become collective action against the Swamp.

As long as the Establishment views Trump more as a court jester than a king, they'll tolerate him staying as a symbolic-only anti-Establishment figure. The more they view him as someone amassing an army of followers, the quicker they will move to eject him from the court.

This is likely leading to false confidence among Trump supporters -- "Well, he's lasted this long, hasn't he?" Yes, but he hasn't really stood up to the Establishment on foreign policy, immigration, surveillance, and other big topics they hold dear (they don't care about social-cultural things like Planned Parenthood, tranny bathrooms, etc.). If he did make a major move against the Establishment on those topics, they would probably respond very quickly like they did with Flynn and Sessions.

If they did move against Trump, and if they were successful at it, it would happen fast rather than as the outcome of a long drawn-out war of attrition, since Trump has little political capital to save himself against the entire Swamp.

The longer war that this would provoke would instead be between the Establishment and the citizenry, but Trump himself could very quickly be driven out of office if he took a major move against the Establishment without first amassing an army of citizens to have his back, in the form of willingness to take some kind of collective action to defend him, not just "supporting" him ideologically.

We saw how fast the Mueller coup sprang into action after Trump fired Comey, not just because Comey was a made man within the Swamp, but because Trump had not used the only leverage he has (citizen support) in that decision. Maybe hold a rally where he savages Comey's record, then asks the crowd for thumbs up or thumbs down. They all say thumbs down. Then Trump says we should all show up to the FBI headquarters to firmly but legally ask for Comey to resign. Comey refuses, or maybe he shows weakness and leaves on his own. If not, Trump says "you're fired!" as the leader of a citizen's army, not as an isolated individual.

Or maybe put up a poll on his Twitter account, asking whether Comey should be fired (results not necessarily binding, "just curious").

Or maybe organize a national referendum on a major topic that would attract large bipartisan support among voters, including Democrats who supported Bernie and Independents. "Should the United States leave NAFTA?" Or, "Should the US admit closer to 1 million legal immigrants per year, or closer to 100,000?" Or, "What percent of healthcare costs should government pay for -- 0, 25, 50, 75, 100?"

Or something else, as long as it rallies the troops in some collective way as a display of strength before an audience of the Establishment. Otherwise he'll be charging into battle with nobody on his side.

The danger is that he'll think he can just go into these fights as one Big Man against other Big Men. But being a Big Man is socially constructed -- only if the other Big Men agree and treat you like one, are you too a Big Man. And almost none of the big players in DC view Trump as a legitimate politician, let alone the highest level of politician, or as a true policymaker whose views must be translated into action.

In private business, he was a Big Man because of all the wealth and business connections he had amassed. Those assets do not carry over into the political world, where it is political connections and political accomplishments (on behalf of one's paymasters) that determine a figure's status ranking. As far as DC writ large is concerned, Trump is still just "that guy from the Apprentice," a mogul from a sector that does not control the government (real estate), colorful commentator on Fox News, and Twitter troll.

They will only stop blowing him off and stop outright sabotaging him when they are reminded of how he got into the White House -- that he's not just some reality TV star, but the person who tens of millions of Americans voted for, in states that only he could win for the GOP, and including 14 million in the Republican primary alone. The Establishment needs a visceral reminder of who they're messing with when they mess with Trump.

In one sense, Trump is our protector, but in another sense, we are his.

1 comment:

  1. Roger Stone summed it up nicely, if Trump is removed from office there will be violence

    The only bad thing is trust is so low that if somehow there was a legitimate reason to do it, people might not accept that.

    That's a bad place to be in but that's DC's fault.


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