General Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, has resigned, forced out by leaks and media hysteria. Whether it was wise of the Trump administration to yield to pressure is a matter for a different day, what is more interesting is analysing the underlying power dynamics behind his removal, and what they tell us about who runs America.
The standard sugar coated story is that America is a perfectly free democracy, in which the national direction is decided democraticallly in free and fair elections, and politicians and bureaucrats are the faithful and humble servants of the American people. Of course people of all political stripes have long questioned this narrative, the left attacking America the military-industrial complex, and the right attacking the bureaucracy, academia and Hollywood as being the real sources of control. However until now criticisms of just how much of a democracy really is have never been able to find purchase. Apologists for the system can always point to elections and campaigns, changes of the party of government, political journalism seemingly debating the issues and questioning politicians etc etc etc.
In the face of a system that seems democratic on its face, it has been hard for critics of such a view to marshal any real evidence leads to inevitable accusations of “conspiracy theorist” or “kook” and makes it easy to be ignored. The election of Donald Trump however, presents us with an opportunity unparalleled in American history to test the hypothesis of American democracy.
Donald Trump’s election in itself proved that the establishment is not infallible, the hysterical behaviour of the corporate media, politicians in both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, and celebrities and political donors was infallible evidence that the agents of the status quo were desperate to prevent a Trump victory. His ascendancy most certainly puts paid to the idea that these people are infallible, but it his administration which will prove either way whether or not America is actually a democracy. We know that for the last several decades America has been a functional oligarchy, with power staying in the same hands, and the course of the nation being set the same way, whoever was in charge. However it can be argue that America was a democracy throughout this period (at least technically), and that the oligarchy successfully persuaded the electorate to support them by Democratic means.
The election of Donald Trump has fundamentally rebuked the establishment, they failed to use democratic means to maintain control, they lost at the ballot box. Now the real test begins; just like the test of democracy in an Africa nation is not when the five term president wins the election, but when he loses, the test of American democracy is not when the establishment picked candidates win, but when they lose. This test will have one of several outcomes.
The first possibility is that the Deep State will accept Trump’s victory and yield to Trumpian politics, this would prove that as ratchety and tetchy as the Deep State had become after years of always getting its way, it ultimately respected democracy, or at the very least feared to go against it.
The second possibility is that the Deep State will try to fight Trump, will try to bring him down, if the leaks and misinformation, and collusion with politicians to run various investigations and hearings continues, we will know that this is the path the deep state has chosen. If they lose and Trump wins, this may well be the best long term outcome; the proverbial “draining” of the deepest part of the swamp.
The third possibility is that the Deep State will fight Trump and win. This will be obvious, though the media will collude and try to make it look like a natural series of events, not planned and plotted well in advance, they will pretend to stumble upon a convenient smoking gun with which the remove the President from office. Maybe he’ll be impeached, maybe they’ll just make him step down by threatening to kill his entire family. Who knows. If this third option comes to pass it will expose America as a lie, an admission that American democracy was always a sham, that Americans had a vote, but only as long as that vote tallied up with the Deep State’s chosen candidate.