The History Behind the 2016 Coup

Sometimes it’s challenging to decide where to start with a Backstory.  History’s threads weave through a lot of current events.  But the coup of November 2016 has a somewhat clear place to start.  Let’s look at a bit of history for the backstory.

In 1933, wealthy right-wing  corporatists conspired to execute a coup and oust FDR, disliking his New Deal policies of helping the poor, ending child labor – and his decision to stop using the US Military to support oppressive corporations like United Fruit in the third world.

Their goal was to emulate the corporate fascism of Hitler and Mussolini that was happening in Europe at that time, instead of what was shaping up to become a liberal democracy.


General Smedley Butler

They approached Marine General Smedley Butler, the most highly respected Military officer in the US at the time,  for assistance — but they guessed wrong.  He remained loyal and gathered details, then, reported the treasonous conspirators.  The attempted coup, now often called The Wall Street Putsch,  failed.  There were some hearings, but, the House was reluctant to investigate such wealthy pillars of society.  In fact, being wealthy, the plotters were not held to account. (If you do a search for “FDR coup Gen Smedly Butler”online, you’ll find a large amount of information.) For the most factual read,  Here are transcripts of General Butler’s testimony and later interviews giving tons of detail.

Next time, a more subtle plot had to be devised.

Wealthy corporatists  came up with a devious plan, slowly building their control over government over several decades through electing conservative Republicans and “Blue Dog” Democrats.

Liberals, caught unaware, seemed to not realize what this new, radical corporatist plot was all about.  They appeased, were bought out, “played by the rules” and tried to be the party of civility, as they lost ground to a sophisticated psychological attack and a torrent of outright lies, while corporatists and conservatives worked to destroy the middle class as the first order of business.

After all, an educated and relatively wealthy populace has lots of time and energy to work for a better society. 

Workers, through unions, had been able to negotiate better wages, good pensions, good health care, and great hours. 

And the wealthy were tired of these peasants believing that they were equal to the elite 1%.

Right Wing Corporatists Goals:

  • Lower wages, minimize benefits and ultimately destroy unions
  • Destroy education: an uneducated public is a apathetic and compliant public
  • Create their own media bubbles (like Rush Limbaugh’s radio show and Fox “news”) with false information presented as truth, and brainwashing using the most powerful psychological techniques yet discovered
  • Divide the population by using the old canards of racism, anti-immigrant rhetoric homophobia, religion and misogyny,
  • and finally, Perpetuate a quiet coup by rigging elections, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and increasing voter apathy – until there were effectively no more checks and balances.

The rich and the Christian Dominionists would have absolute power to rule, not govern.  And now it’s here.

Here’s how it began:

The Powell Memo

In 1971, Lewis Powell, then a corporate lawyer and member of the boards of 11 corporations, wrote a memo to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memorandum (now called “The Powell Memo“) was dated August 23, 1971, two months prior to Powell’s nomination by President Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court. – Restoring Democracy


Corporate interests and extreme right-wing religionists spent millions of dollars to install their first entirely corporate owned President in office: Ronald Reagan. Reagan was a charismatic and likable extremist, a well-known “B” actor, and a consummate salesman. As a celebrity, he had the public’s admiration even as most of them were ignorant of his radical leanings.  With his folksy delivery, he was the perfect tool for the corporatist attack upon society.  And he’d proven his heartlessness as governor of California.

Reagan immediately attacked Unions, firing the Air Controllers for striking.  He also invented the mythical “Welfare Queen” to blame the poor and minorities for the problems of the country.  Unfortunately, the great dividing worked,  and the middle class began to increasingly resent the poorest and least powerful element of society.  Middle class workers were also manipulated into distrusting Unions, which until now had been the way that workers had a “voice at the table” about wages, benefits, hours,  and pensions.

Without unions, wages stagnated while costs continued going up.  The middle class began to shrink as their numbers fell into the class called “the working poor”.

A look at Reagan’s economic record shows a myriad of failures, harming the majority of US citizens, yet through misdirection and outright lies, the GOP has turned him into a saint.  Reagan was our first celebrity president of the corporate state.  And much suffering resulted.

Bush I

Next came Bush 1, a wealthy ivy league republican, who continued to harm the economy and the middle class.  When he ran against Reagan he had famously called “trickle down” economics: Voodoo Economics.  But suddenly he became a convert.  He was neither charismatic nor very likable, and was voted out after 1 term.

Bill Clinton

Next came Clinton, who was nominally a democrat, but who was so appeasing to conservatives and corporatists that he signed NAFTA and “welfare reform”, which brought more suffering to the middle class and the poor — but he did commit two unpardonable sins as far as conservatives were concerned:  1) he asked his wife Hillary, to be in charge of an effort to give the citizenry of the United States, Universal Health Care, and 2) He raised taxes on the rich – which rebuilt the economy after Reagan and Bush decimated it.  The middle class made adjustments, but overall felt pretty good, because the effects of NAFTA would take time to really hurt the country.

Anti-Hillary Industry

Conservatives had decided the Clintons needed to be destroyed.  Not just Bill – but Hillary as well. As an independent, intelligent, outspoken woman Hillary was a threat to the sexist conservatives.  If anything, they hated her even more than they hated her husband.  They were threatened by her accomplishments, and her refusal to stay “in the kitchen” as first lady.  Her attempt at creating a national healthcare system threatened the entire medical profiteer industry – and corporatists spent a fortune to destroy the healthcare bill.  HRC’s efforts earned her the everlasting hatred of the right wing.  A profitable anti-Hillary industry sprang up, earning propagandists a fortune by smearing her with multiple books, movies, speaking engagements and media appearances.

Wall Street Unleashed

As a neo-liberal, Bill Clinton generally governed as a republican, but republicans were moving ever more rightward – and thus spent Clinton’s entire 8 years investigating and reviling him.  Of course, his ridiculous affair with Monica Lewinsky gave them ample ammunition.  Corporatist republicans then championed an end to Glass-Stegall, which had been implemented after the Great Depression to make sure that the banks and Wall Street could never again decimate the country’s economy.  Republican Phil Gramm  proposed the “Bank Modernization Act” which would unshackle the banks, and would eventually lead to the 2008 crash.  As a neo-liberal, corporate leaning nominally democrat, Bill Clinton signed the legislation.  (Gramm would later be rewarded with a lucrative Wall Street bank gig after leaving government.)

GW Bush

An early version of “crosscheck” software was used, (along with unbelievable corruption by his brother Jeb) and a strangen unprecidented ruling by the Supreme Court (see the post on how Bush stole the election).  GW was then able to appoint two more far-right corporatist Supreme Court appointees: Roberts and Alito.

Unlimited Money in Elections

The rigging of elections had required the conservatives to have majority in the Supreme Court, so that a decision could be made to allow unlimited money for the purchase of elections.   Extreme corporate cronies were appointed to the Supreme Court by republican presidents.  The corporate conservatives now had a majority.  The Citizens United decision was made 5-4 in 2013, allowing corporate and foreign interests to secretly fund candidates of their choice.  The will of the people was now completely undermined by the will of the wealthy.

Another part of the plot was extreme gerrymandering.  This was the reason for the unprecidented spending to “elect” republican governors and representatives in 2010.  The extreme gerrymandering accomplished by the GOP in 2010 not only eliminated many Democratic districts, but chopped up democratic voters into overwhelming red districts, thus guaranteeing that Democrats could never win the House, despite receiving millions more votes.  In this way, the voice of the people was again neutered, with a minority somehow running the show.

Remember, the House controls the money.  They decide if any of  the President’s proposals actually get through.  In this fashion, no Democratic proposals that would rebuild infrastructure, create jobs, or help the middle class and poor – will ever be considered.  This is what happened to Obama’s many proposals that were outright rejected without even coming to a vote in the House.  And this allowed Republicans to then say, “see, those Democrats don’t help you.  We will.”  And the voters, many now brainwashed by years of false media programming at Fox “news”, Rush Limbaugh and a parade of other right-wing radio propagandists, (and a growing satellite of online media outlets), believed it.

Sadly, the rest of the corporate media, always looking out for their own best financial interest, copied the “distract and misdirect” model in order to make more money.  “Look at the sports game!”  “Look at the latest celebrity scandal!”  The idea of media intended to help educate a voting public as was necessary in a genuine democracy, was tossed out.

The people didn’t have a clue what was actually happening.

Next came the 2016 coup.

Already in place was “crosscheck” software, which would strip voting rights from minority (democratic) voters, denying them the right to vote when they arrived at the polls.  This software alone cost HRC her legitimate win in battleground states.

Russian Anti-HRC Attacks

The Russian hackers used Wikileaks to create a steady drip-drip-drip of damning stories about HRC. Then there were the fake news websites, especially popular on Facebook.  Facebook was reportedly afraid to censor the right wing, and so did nothing to stem the tide.  There were thousands of paid trolls working out of Russia.  These trolls blanketed social media with anti-Hillary comments and memes.  There was an intense effort to divide an energized Democratic party by driving a wedge between HRC supporters and Bernie supporters.  (Granted, the DNC gave them ample ammunition.)  There was a frightening  normalization by the complicit corporate media of all the hideous things tRump said and did.  The racism.  The misogyny and sexual assaults.  The xenophobia.  The meglomania.  All was now “normal” and “entertaining”.

Now I’m no fan of HRC, but I did recognize some of the stories resurfacing at this time, from the vaults of the unhinged mind of Rush Limbaugh and the Anti-HRC Industry from  ‘way back in the 90s.  Remember, these stories began as a reaction against Hillary’s feminism when her husband was a governor – she didn’t use her husband’s name at that time and the right was shocked- shocked I say.  Then, after trying to appease them by taking his name and putting on the damn conservative woman’s signature pearls, she dared try to get healthcare in the US.  The reaction was swift and overwhelming, as hate radio blossomed with stories of HRC murdering people, cats, kids, etc.

Conservative spies were caught in both the HRC and Bernie camp, and were quite successful in turning them against each other.  As a Bernie supporter, I worked hard to see Bernie elected.  But I would never repeat all the anti-Hillary stories, because I knew from whence they came.  And I suspected that among us were conservative plants, creating and spreading vicious memes.  Even though I didn’t like her much and preferred Bernie, I also didn’t fall for the BS and I didn’t repost any anti-Hillary propaganda.  Even when the DNC put their thumb on the scale for Hillary.  Even when I felt she shouldn’t have won the nomination.  I wouldn’t help the GOPs gain power by spreading anti-Hillary stories.

Sadly, many of my Bernie loving friends did.  And unknowingly they helped “elect” tRump.

People were so turned off, as the republican operatives gleefully said, that less and less Democrats would vote.  Even shaving off a percentage or two would allow voter suppression to swing the election.

The gutting of the voting rights act by conservatives on the Supreme Court  in 2013 allowed Southern States to implement near Jim Crow restrictions on minority voters, close nearly 900 polling places in Democratic districts, start requiring confusing and onerous special ID, end early voting, and otherwise impede the votes of Democratic leaning citizens – especially African Americans and Hispanics.

This was the first presidential election since the Voting Rights act was hollowed out, and changes began the very next day.  Suddenly any state governed by a republican  put huge roadblocks to voting, aimed at people likely to vote Dem: People of color, the young, and the poor.  Through the use of “Crosscheck” softeware, Millions of eligible, legal  voters were stripped from the voting rolls.

But wait, you say.  tRump is not even nominally a christian, much less a christian dominionist.  True,  but he is one of the moneyed elite, and they’re happy to let the domionists rule as long as they rake in all of the nation’s cash.  One terrifying look at tRump’s appointments shows who is really in charge now.

One after another his appointments are wealthy christian dominionists, who have been determined – and now are poised to carry out – several of their goals.

  • Destroy our US safety net (two reasons for this: the wealthy do not want to pay any taxes at all, and they want the rest of us to be, as in so many other third-world countries, desperate, uneducated, and poor.  Willing to work for nothing.  Powerless.  Also, this serves the christian dominionists.  Desperate people need the miserly charity of the church and will submit to their will for a meal.  And, the less education people have, the more vulnerable they are to falling for superstitious religion.
  • Destroy our US Constitution (so that no dissent shall be allowed.  The constitution and biblical shiria law are not companionable.)
  • Destroy our environment: Christian domionists believe they can force jeeezus to come again by destroying earth.  The wealthy just want to extract as much wealth as they can, so the two forces are aligned.  Do the wealthy plan to retire to their underground bunkers?  (or perhaps they plan on being the first ones to use the new Mars ships to colonize a new world after destroying this one.)

If you’ve read anything by the christian domionionists, you already know the amount of hatred and misinformation that they cultivate among their followers.  Their agenda has always been to take over the US government and end democracy and the constitution.  (Yes, they hid behind the constitution when it suited them, but in all honesty, they do not support it.)

They want to rule by old testament style “biblical law.”  Yes, with all the death sentences, stonings and other horrid punishments the old testament god seemed to relish.  This would entail stonings for LGBTQ people, unfaithful wives, and children who refuse to bow their knee to christianity.  Death to environmentalists (whom they view as worshiping Nature, which is anathema to their beliefs).  Death to unbelievers and those of other faiths, and certainly death to astrologers, meditators, and other consciousness advocates.  Feminists had better become submissive and meek, real quick, or they die too.

Now wed that to White Supremacy, and you’ve got the true Religious Right/Christian Dominionist movement.  People of color are, in their twisted minds, imperfect and marked by their ‘god” as lesser than whites.  And they will be in trouble.

This vast right-wing christian dominionist coalition used tRump, whose perverse charisma was their ticket to power.  He gets what he wants: absolute power and his massive, fragile ego constantly stroked… and, of course, wealth.  (He’s already showing his breathtaking level of corruption by contacting any countries with whom he has had trouble pushing through his tacky hotels and golf courses, immediately after being declared the “winner”.  Demanding they capitulate to him now that he has the might of the US military behind him, and telling diplomats and leaders to hold their events and stay in his hotels.)

He will demand absolute submission from the peasants.  He’s already ordered the mainstream media to kiss his ring, and they have immediately begun parroting his lies as if they were truth.  So much for brave media.  They’ve begun “normalizing” white supremacists, especially tRump’s lead counsel, White Nationalist & Supremacist Bannon.

But the coalition of christian dominionists, starting with the evil Mike Pence and those calling themselves “conservatives” in the senate, extreme right-wingers within the intelligence community, and the far-right dictatorship of Putin will wield the true power behind tRump’s golden throne.

Note that Putin has been funding and/or supporting the rise of far-right extremists in the UK and Europe too.  It is not too far-fetched to see a global authoritarian right-wing dictatorship coalition taking shape.

Democracy’s only real chance is a rift between the christian domionists and tRump, where he might become troublesome and they might seek to impeach him. If that happens, his slavish followers will follow him, not the white-bread boring christian domionists who don’t have the personality they crave to follow.  We’d be looking at a virtual army of angry, well-armed racists and self proclaimed “christians” up against the Pharisaic ruling christian dominionists — and also against everyone of color and every progressive and liberal they can find.

In that schism might emerge some genuine movements of the people. But I don’t expect elections. The entire system of US government, and possibly civilization itself, could collapse, along with our global climate.

Some nation states will be able to hang together, possibly Canada, and hopefully in the US including Pacifica,(California, Oregon and Washington) and NY, while the gun nuts in the midwest and south shoot each other until they run out of ammo.

I hate this vision.  I hate that I believe it.  And I really have been hesitant to voice it.  I want to give hope.  But right now, I don’t have any hope to give you.   Except this: I hope, with every fiber of my being, that I’m wrong.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. WhiteTrashGal
    Apr 18, 2017 @ 20:25:17

    Well done. I agree with much of your assessment & history, though I do have one bone to pick, so I’ll focus on that.

    I find your loyalty to Bernie based in a flawed rational embraced so righteously by his supporters. history as present; and woman as nothing more than her husband. People learn & change; 2016 is not 1992. Obama was once against gay marriage, remember. Also, Hillary is not her husband.

    It is inarguable that Secretary Hillary was far more qualified than anyone running for president, with her experience in law & politics, decades of state and national political service, & particularly with her 4 years as Sec. of State–critical in such a dangerously volatile world. Nobody is perfect or infallible, but she is a woman who has been dogged with GOP lies & sexist propaganda for 3 decades, something old feminists like me know well.

    Our mistake was not realizing that sexism is more active today than ever, with Putin-RU, the FBI, and yes, Bernie’s faction piling on. We live in a world still unwilling to give women equal rights. We are still fighting a [now losing] battle with even reproductive health rights to our own bodies.

    So forgive my candid resentment when I say your view of Hillary, while heartfelt, is as skewed as the rest of Bernie’s followers. If you must beat that drum for life, perhaps consider that Bernie also would never have won for similar reasons, nor did he deserve to by virtue of…what? He’s an irascible, self-absorbed old man? Even so, America is not ready for an entirely socialist government, and thankfully so, as that always dissolves into communism, then into totalitarianism led by a despot–see Russia-Putin, France is on the verge; etc.

    Of course, dominant capitalism has gotten us there, anyway, so perhaps Khrushchev was right. Maybe this world of 7 billion & growing is an exploding melting pot over-heated by human diversity between conflicting bone-shakers all ready to kill for their greedy, jealous gods of gold. Like you, I have little hope left that humanity can overcome our innate fatal flaws in this eleventh hour of self-destruction.

    And like you, I hope I am very wrong.

    Your historical perspective is really appreciated, I must add. I only learned of the Powell Memo as GOP Blueprint last year & its effect on gerrymandering in this century, so the context you provide is informative for me. Thanks.


    • voice13
      Apr 19, 2017 @ 22:51:57

      Thank you so much for your excellent comment! Since I wrote this post, I’ve been encouraged by the level of resistance to the tRump agenda, and I’ve even been unexpectedly surprised by some of the reporting on the Trump-Russia collusion by mainstream corporate media outlets like CNN. At times, it almost seems as though they’re doing their job of informing the public. Today it was announced that Bill O’Reilly has finally been fired from Fox “news”. Perhaps there is some reason to hope, after all.

      With regards to the HRC-Bernie discussion: my problem with Hillary was that I felt she was not nearly as progressive as we needed at this crucial time. I had reservations about her environmental record, and her resistance to universal health care – (although if anyone would know how difficult it would be to stop the health care industrial complex, it would be HRC!) I suspect that living through decades of personal assaults and vilification had blunted her progressivism into something more “practical”. I felt – and still feel – that at such a crucial time for climate change, we needed politicians more radically progressive than Hillary.

      But let it also be said that I watched the electoral college tallies coming in, I prayed to every god and goddess in the pantheon that HRC would win. If it would make a difference, I’d crawl across broken glass to beg her to be president.

      Thanks again for your great comments.


  2. WhiteTrashGal
    Apr 20, 2017 @ 00:24:30

    Oh, my pleasure. I love a good debate, which is the basis for progress, in my opinion.

    I understand and agree we need to make environmental change our number one issue. But then Canadian Dr. Suzuki scared the bejesus out of me about 10 years ago with his dire predictions for our poor planet. But trying to turn this Titanic around after it’s hit the iceberg is pretty much where we’re at now.

    Hillary wrote in her book “Hard Choices”: “All economies [in Dec., 2009] ran on fossil fuels.” She accompanied Obama at the international conference on climate change in Denmark. (I highly recommend reading this book for the history and politics alone,) She knows the challenges better than I, as do Obama and most world leaders. With Trump, it’s looking like our last hope is Deus Ex Machina. I’m not optimistic.

    I’m also reading another book that has me in knots, which explains the political changes in the last 10 years based on the gaping divide between the 1% and the rest of us: “Plutocrats.” It’s pretty grim: basically, the rich don’t like being called rich, just want to keep all their money and not pay taxes, and are loyal to the global plutocracy, not any particular country. Written in 2012, the author nailed it, down to the disenfranchised and barely employed middle and lower classes whom the RICH (ha) consider unworthy for not being…RICH.

    If I make it through the next four years without becoming a devoted drunk, I’ll be very proud of myself.

    Credit to you: your assessment of the turn of the worm between the Clintons & the centrists in his administration really gave me an “aha” moment, by the way. So the insurance industry, corrupting government since they got omitted from the Sherman Act in 1890, saw her healthcare-for-all commitment threatening their mobster-like territory: ripping Americans off for a century. No wonder the GOP spent the last 8 years stomping on the ACA. And a WOMAN, too!

    As my knowledge of history can be spotty and weak, you really helped me out. So again, thank you. One by one, if we all learn enough, maybe we can steer our sinking ship to safety, gods/goddesses willing.


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