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Exploring “Trial Balloon for a Coup?” Yonatan Zunger’s piece broken down for the layperson, Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote part 1 of this 2-part series, which focused on the actual news events that have taken place largely since last Friday. Today, I will focus on Zunger's analysis of the news events.

Yesterday, I wrote part 1 of this 2-part series, which focused on the actual news events that have taken place largely since last Friday. Today, I will focus on Zunger’s analysis of the news events.

My argument from yesterday for providing this breakdown was that the only way to stop Trump and his team was through en masse grassroots organizing efforts based on clear understanding and clear intent. A lot changes in a day in this administration (see Sarah Kendzior twitter thread). Because of that, today I’m no longer confident that grassroots organizing will be enough to take down this regime.

This is what happened yesterday:

Now, let’s get back to the topic at hand, which is breaking down Yonatan Zunger’s article. Because of the pace with which this administration is implementing its goals, the piece may seem like old news by now. But even so, it’s important to understand what has already gone down.

Zunger’s Analysis

Zunger’s analysis of the 6 news items in his piece (and broken down in my previous post) and the administration’s goal is 3-fold.

Simply put it is this:

  1. Create chaos. This was achieved by mobilizing the masses against a particularly unfair and unconstitutional Executive Order (EO) restricting even the U.S. entry of green card holders.**
    1. For Zunger, mobilizing the masses each time a relatively minor (in comparison) affront to the Constitution occurs may result in “resistance fatigue.” Such fatigue would make it easier to push greater insults to the Republic as time goes by. (Or as presented here, it could also serve as a diversionary tactic.)
    2. This also serves as a test (a trial balloon) to different arms of the executive branch: Will they support the president no matter what? Will they cave to public pressure to obey the Constitution? Will they be lead by those who have a conscience that does not allow them to support unconstitutional acts? *** Will they ignore the other branches of government?
  2. Create a tight-knit group at the upper echelons. Zunger says this group consists of “Bannon, Miller, Priebus, Kushner, … Flynn,” and Conway. The administration is getting rid of career professionals and replacing them with members of this group (i.e., Bannon and Priebus on the NSC). Further, Trump has been making use of his own private security service. And it has been stated that he will be using his own intelligence-gathering service as well (see video of Conway begin at :54).
    1. Neither private security nor private intelligence would be subject to oversight and could therefore be used to intimidate opposition. (Brownshirts, anyone?)
    2. Again, this serves as a test of how far the Trump administration can move away from the current power structure and install their own.
  3. Hold on to the money. And acquire more, by playing games with the relationship between business and government.

That’s pretty much it (with a little of my own commentary thrown in).

Did I miss anything? Do you have something to add? Keep the conversation going.

Please like and comment below.


*ICE is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS did not approve of Trump’s Muslim Ban as it applied to green card holders.

**This restriction was later pulled back after its goal of creating chaos was achieved.

***See above for what happened to AG Sally Yates for not supporting Trump’s EO.

Janette DeFelice, MD, MA is a writer currently focusing on how the changing environment affects our health. Her essay collection Resistance Essays from the Heartland and her new novel Delia Rising: A Ballet in Three Acts are both available now. She has also published at Be The Change Mom, ChicagoNow, and Medium.com. She holds a Doctor of Medicine degree from Chicago Medical School and a Master’s degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago, where her major essay was Hegel and Ibsen: The Evolution of Consciousness in Ibsen’s Prose Play Cycle. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Indiana University. A former professional dancer, former adjunct Humanities professor, and former lecturer in Medical Clinical Skills, as well as a mom of 9-year-old twins, she currently finds herself at a career/life crossroads at which she is trying to figure out how to use all aspects of herself (her art, her medical and scientific knowledge, her philosophical explorations, her interest in popular culture as a teaching tool, and her unique perspective) for the good of humanity.

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