In politics, triangulation is the strategy in which a political candidate presents their ideology as being above or between the left and right sides (or “wings”) of a traditional (e.g. American or British) democratic political spectrum. It involves adopting for oneself some of the ideas of one’s political opponent. The logic behind it is that it both takes credit for the opponent’s ideas, and insulates the triangulator from attacks on that particular issue.
As Robert De Niro demonstrated in his otherwise forgettable movie about CIA counter-intelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, the CIA is just like the mob, only with WASPs, and not Italians. Over the past seventy years, they have protected Nazi war criminals. They have overthrown democratically elected governments in Guatemala and Iran. They have funded a terrorist war in Central America by selling crack cocaine in South Central Los Angeles. They currently run a network of “black sites” all over the world where prisoners are routinely tortured. In 1956, they kidnapped Columbia professor Jesús Galíndez and turned him over to the Trujillo government in the Dominican Republic, where he was boiled alive and fed to the sharks.
The CIA will now save you from Donald Trump.
At least that’s what many liberal Democrats claim. Yesterday, and according to the NY Times based on a “swell of evidence,” the CIA issued a report claiming that it was none other than Vladimir Putin who was behind the hack of the email accounts of the DNC and Democratic Party fixer John Podesta. A chorus of Democratic Party politicians, liberal pundits, not so liberal pundits, and erstwhile liberal Democratic Party websites quickly drew what they believe to be the obvious conclusion. The DNC and John Podesta hacks cost Hillary Clinton the election. If confirmed by the Electoral College, Donald Trump will not only be an illegitimate President elect. The United States will, in effect, become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Russian Federation. The electors must, therefore, refuse to install Donald Trump in the White House this December 19, and replace him with either Hillary Clinton, or some acceptable “moderate” Republican like John Kasich.
My views about Donald Trump are no mystery. I think he’s a fascist and a white supremacist. Nevertheless, liberal Democrats have somehow managed to come up with something even worse, a coup by the “deep state” against the over two hundred year old precedent of the Electoral College voting the way the people of their states have instructed them. This is a very short term solution to a very long term problem. Even if Vladimir Putin was behind the hacks against the corrupt DNC and the cretinous John Podesta – a very big “if” if you ask me – there’s no compelling argument that it determined the outcome of the election. While there’s no shortage of racism and antisemitism in Russia and Eastern Europe, white Americans don’t need Russians to teach them how to hate immigrants and Muslims. To blame the rise of Donald Trump on Vladimir Putin is a cop out at best. A President Donald J. Trump is the inevitable outcome of a long, and mostly unresolved, history of American white supremacy.
Do most Democrats actually believe that a report by the CIA will persuade the members of the Electoral College to replace Donald Trump will Hillary Clinton or John Kasich? We’ll find out on December 19, but I would argue no. If a coup led by the CIA blocks Trump from entering the White House, it won’t stop there. It will also require massive repression by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security against his supporters, who have been stockpiling weapons for years. It will mean a Second American Civil War, not to end slavery, but to consolidate the power of the federal government behind the Clinton family. I doubt most liberals have the stomach for that.
Instead, what I think the Democratic Party is trying to do is to “triangulate” resistance to the coming Trump Administration, to repeat the unlikely feat they pulled off during the middle-2000s, where they somehow managed to neuter and co-opt the resistance to the Bush/Cheney regime and funnel it into the campaign of the neoliberal Barack Obama. Indeed, the Democratic Party elite and the corporate media elite fear a mass popular uprising – the only way to remove Trump from office without provoking a civil war – almost as much as the Republican Party does. By framing the resistance to a President Trump as part of a jingoistic campaign against Russia and Vladimir Putin, the American ruling class gets to have its cake (Trump) and eat it too. They get to restrict Trump to the domestic arena, where he can privatize Social Security and eliminate Medicaid, and continue the bipartisan militarist consensus abroad. Their thugs and enforcers in the form of the CIA are, in effect, telling Trump to “keep off the grass.”
Will rank and file liberal Democrats go along with it? Sadly, I fear many of them will. As we saw during the Democratic primaries, the American working class is far too divided between white and black, between male and female, between native and immigrant, even to unite behind a moderate social democratic like Bernie Sanders. Yet there are also a few glimmerings of hope. The Standing Rock demonstrations scored an unlikely victory against the fossil fuel industry. The millennial generation, now mostly in their twenties and thirties, is more favorable to the idea of socialism than any other generation in American history. Whatever the Electoral College decides on December 19, both the Democratic and Republican Party elites have been exposed as corrupt and undemocratic, and neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton can command the loyalty of a clear majority of the American people. Our government and our ruling class stand in front of us naked. The emperor has no clothes. What will we do?