New Candidates Emerge to Challenge Trump
The fight for the presidency shows the factions are splitting and are not fixed but changing as various forces both contend and collude. While the primaries do not begin until February 2024, other contenders, while not officially announcing, are already coming forward. Former Trump supporters Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas and Mike Pompeo, Trump's former Secretary of State, are all expected to announce and considered top contenders. The New York Post, long a main Trump backer instead ran a headline after the election referring to DeSantis as Ron DeFuture.
At the Republican Governors' convention and similar events with major donors DeSantis has been a main force. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, another contender, said of Trump, "In my view, he's now a loser. He's an electoral loser." The reference is not only to 2020 but to the fact that many of the midterm candidates backed by Trump for Senate, Governor and Secretary of State lost. Other presidential contenders include former vice-president Mike Pence, U.N. Ambassador under Trump Nikki Haley, and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu.
Hedge-fund billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin is already openly backing DeSantis. While not endorsing specific candidates, other major private interests that have backed Trump are no longer doing so. Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone Group, a major financial force among U.S. rulers, said that he would back someone from a "new generation" of Republicans. Aerospace CEO Phillip Friedman described himself as a "big Trump supporter," but also said he is open to listening to others moving forward. "There's a couple other people who have his policies but don't have the baggage," Friedman said of Trump. Miriam Adelson, wife of billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who died last year, remains a fundraising force, raising more than $20 million for Republican candidates in the midterms. She is "staying neutral" so far. Ronald Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune, backed Trump's previous campaigns but has no plans to support him in 2024. Robert and Rebekah Mercer, the top donors to Trump's 2016 campaign, also said they will not give money to the former president. Robert Mercer is former co-CEO of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies.
Trump has a campaign "war chest" of $100 million but still needs backing from the major oligopolies. Having a "war chest" is indicative of the reality of warring factions, whose divisions stemming from contending economic and political interests, and drive for the presidency and its power, are increasing the potential for open violent civil war. The usual mechanisms to prevent it, like elections, have only increased the divisions.
While the usual efforts were made to keep issues of war and peace off the table during the elections, there is little doubt that the ongoing effort to crush Russia using the war in Ukraine, and U.S. contention with China are major concerns for U.S. rulers, all seeking to secure U.S. world hegemony. It is unusual, for example, to have candidates, like Pompeo and Haley, who come from administrative ranks. Presidential candidates commonly are either Senators or Governors. While Haley was previously Governor of South Carolina, she will likely use her credentials as UN Ambassador to demonstrate she has experience in foreign affairs. Pompeo demands increased contention with China and, like the Biden forces, visited Taiwan in March and September as an indication of doing so. While calling for a "deeper and far more enthusiastic relationship with Taiwan," his actions are so far much the same as those of the Biden forces, with its provocative visit by then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Governors of the bigger states also commonly have direct trade and other relations with other countries, such as those of New York with Israel, for example. DeSantis, as part of demonstrating where he stands on foreign matters, on September 22, using the police power of an executive order, specifically targeted the Communist Party of China and Chinese companies. The measure prohibits Florida "government entities from procuring technology products and services from companies owned by, controlled by, or domiciled in foreign countries of concern." It also prohibits their buying agricultural land and land surrounding military bases. While the emphasis is on China, the countries of concern also include Cuba, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela.
DeSantis is also known for his ties to the reactionary Cuban Miami Mafia as well as reactionaries from Nicaragua and Venezuela, supporters of U.S. efforts at regime change. Florida has strong trade ties with Latin America so his candidacy represents in part the effort to try to maintain control over Latin America and the Caribbean, something the U.S. has long sought but generally is now failing to secure.
It is also the case that several people are considering running in place of Biden, if he, or those influential in his camp, decide he is not to run. These include Vice-President Kamala Harris, Governors Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Gavin Newsom of California. Those who campaigned against Biden in 2020, including Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, current Transportation Secretary and former mayor of Gary, Indiana, are also considering running. They are worth mentioning to indicate that the factional fights persist and the difficulty for the rulers to find a single champion to contend with the growing conflicts and crises is increasing.
(Voice of Revolution)
This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 48 - November 23, 2022