Within a few minutes Hodgkinson had fired off some 50 rifle cartridges and 10 shots from his handgun, severely wounding Rep. Steve Scalise, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, and injuring four others. Members of a special Capitol Police security detail, assigned to Scalise due to his post as Republican house whip, shot and killed Hodgkinson before he could kill other Republican politicians. Senators Jeff Flake and Rand Paul and three other House members were also at the game.
The assault came amid a frenzy of anti-Donald Trump demagogy in the liberal media, Democratic Party circles, the middle-class left, and from Broadway to Hollywood and beyond. “It’s time to destroy Trump,” Hodgkinson himself had recently written on Facebook.
The shooting is a reflection of the deepening political crisis of the U.S. capitalist rulers that was revealed, and accelerated, by the outcome of the 2016 election. Both the Democratic and Republican parties are wracked with widening divisions. Neither of them, nor the two-party system through which the propertied U.S. families maintain their rule and defend their profits, will be the same again.
Behind the hysteria is the employing class’s fear of the workers who voted for Trump. They were hoping to “drain the swamp” of capitalist politics in Washington and somehow halt the mounting social, economic and human calamity they and millions of other working people face. The rulers and their political representatives in both ruling parties are frightened that the election results point to growing class struggle to come.
CBS news anchor Scott Pelley even rationalized the attempted assassination by blaming the Republican victims. “It’s time to ask,” he said, whether the attack “was to some degree, self-inflicted.” And Phil Montag, co-chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party technology committee, was caught on YouTube saying he was “glad” Scalise was shot — “I wish he was f---ing dead.”
Unabated witch hunt
The liberals’ witch hunt of President Donald Trump continues unabated. They hope the “investigation” by special prosecutor and ex-FBI Director Robert Mueller, initially justified to look into alleged “Russian ties” to Trump’s 2016 campaign, will damage the president and/or those around him enough to somehow invalidate the election results or even lead to impeachment proceedings.
Mueller’s 12 years as the federal government’s top cop equip him well to lead a witch hunt. Since the early 20th century, the FBI has served as Washington’s political police. It has spied on, harassed, and sought to disrupt political and union activity by vanguard workers, Socialist Workers Party members, fighters for Black liberation, and other opponents of Washington’s imperialist policies.
As special prosecutor, Mueller has the unqualified authority to force witnesses to testify and to drag them before a closed-door grand jury, where they have no right to counsel. Federal prosecutors — whether targeting working-class fighters, “organized crime” figures, union officials, or their own peers and rivals in the capitalist two-party setup — follow a notorious pattern. They pour agents and resources into finding something, anything, to pin on you, real or manufactured. “Where there’s smoke, there must be fire.” Then they go all out for a conviction or a plea bargain.
In the case of Donald Trump, the liberals and their newspapers and TV networks are more than pleased to boost the frame-up. Dispensing with any pretense of presumption of innocence, New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote of Trump on the June 19 op-ed page, “in the court of public opinion he’s already guilty.”
Mueller has appointed a staff of lawyers that includes a number of Democratic Party donors, as well as a former Clinton Foundation attorney. Mueller is also a close friend of former FBI Director James Comey.
During the 2016 election, as part of an Obama administration effort to protect Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Comey usurped Justice Department authority by going on TV to say the FBI had decided not to recommend charges against her. Then, after he was fired by President Trump, he testified before Congress in early June that he “leaked” (through a friend) an FBI memo he’d written “because I thought that might prompt” the appointment of a special prosecutor.
“You don’t have to be a Trump partisan to have concerns about where all of this is headed,” said the Wall Street Journal in a June 16 editorial (and the Journal’s editors are decidedly not “Trump partisans.”) “Much of Washington clearly views Mr. Mueller as their agent to rid the country of a President they despise. Every political and social incentive in that city will press Mr. Mueller to oblige.”
Any attempt to impeach Trump, however, will infuriate millions of working people and others who voted for him, and many who didn’t, too. “American politics is divisive and dysfunctional as it is,” the Journal editorial warned. “Imagine what it will be like if millions of Americans conclude that a presidential election is being overturned by an elite consensus” of major newspapers and TV networks.
Growing numbers of working people already know something stinks about these “investigations” and the media orgy they’re subjected to morning, noon and night. This isn’t because they’re convinced the Trump administration has done anything to advance workers’ interests. Neither major capitalist party can or will. President Trump, like his Democratic and Republican predecessors, governs to advance the interests of the capitalist rulers and their profit-driven exploitation and oppression of working people.
Fewer workers than ever today identify themselves and the interests of their families with either party, the Democrats (the long self-proclaimed “friends of labor”) or the Republicans. They see that Democratic Party leaders and loyalists, as well as sections of the Republican Party, are determined to reverse the outcome of an election these bourgeois and middle-class layers can’t reconcile themselves to.
Liberal Democrats bemoan what they view as the “stupidity” and “ignorance” of workers and farmers who voted for Trump and who in mid-2017 are still incapable of “discovering” the danger of having him — instead of Hillary Clinton or some other Democrat — in the White House. Short of another sharp financial breakdown or deep capitalist recession, however, most of these working people will withhold judgment as long as they’re convinced the Democrats are determined to obstruct the new administration from doing anything.
Both capitalist parties fracture
The fracturing of the Democratic Party deepened after the defeat of party hopeful Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District June 20. Democrats had poured over $31 million into defeating the incumbent Republican. This was the fourth time this year that Democratic special election hopes have been dashed, trailing in the dust of others in Kansas, Montana and South Carolina.
These losses have aggravated political infighting between Democratic Party “regulars” — those who look to the Clintons, Barack Obama, or hopefuls such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — and those grouped around Bernie Sanders. Sanders and supporters of his “political revolution” increasingly insist that even if the Democratic Party loses some elections, those defeats are worth the price if they can wag their fingers and later take it over and reshape it as what they’ll falsely paint as a party of the “working class” and “progressives.”
As for the Republican Party, its divisions are shown, among other things, by its inability — despite sizable congressional majorities, especially in the House — to pass a single piece of substantive legislation since the opening of Congress and presidential inauguration in January. Their failure in both the House and the Senate to “repeal and replace” the erroneously named Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a clear example.
The depth of the GOP’s crisis, however, is revealed elsewhere. That’s the fact that they’re stuck with a president, the de facto head of the party, who wasn’t elected as a Republican. And who really isn’t one.
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home