On the Election of Donald Trump

First Thoughts:

From “Hard Times Come Again no More”
by Stephen Foster:

Let us pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There’s a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh! Hard times come again no more.

When Clinton was giving her concession speech Wednesday afternoon, traders on the Stock Exchange booed and shouted out “lock her up.” So much for comity.

Many are making a big deal out of the fact that Hillary won the popular vote. Although true, it is not meaningful in the way many seek to present it.

Some things are more meaningful, however. First, let me assert from the outset that whoever tries to analyze what has and will happen is guessing. At this point no one knows what the future holds, least of all Donald Trump. In a sense of course this is always true no matter what. The future is just that, the future. It has not yet occurred. Let me nevertheless offer my opinion, realizing that it is nothing more than that. Opportunity enough later in this document to write what I would like or prefer to happen.

So here goes. Donald Trump made many declarations in the course of this election campaign, to say nothing of through the years, that are reprehensible to “progressives” and to many others. His entourage is already trying to make light of those assertions, and he, his campaign team, the media, traditional republicans, and those who until recently said “never Trump” are working to “normalize,” to use an unfortunate word, Trump and his administration in waiting. One can venture a guess from this that many of those reprehensible views will soon become conventional and acceptable.

A large portion of those who voted for Trump declared that they were looking for change; they do not trust the status quo. It is their expectation that fundamental change will in fact occur. I suggest that such either not hold their breath or to be careful what they wish for. Although Trump was elected as an agent of change, the composition of the Congress has changed but little. For the most part, incumbents were reelected, both Democratic and Republican and one might expect the power structure to change but little as well, with one monumental exception.

The power structure has changed in one particularly distressing way: the Executive branch is now in the hands of an authoritarian, racist, misogynist, xenophobic, bigoted sexual predator. How tragic that America’s first black President will be succeeded by such a man! This means that Republicans, who can be expected to join with Trump post-haste, will now be able to reverse the long, slow march to improve the lives of all. I emphatically do not mean to imply that Democrats through the years have had the best interests of the public in mind. Democrats are as venal as Republicans. In general, politicians who cannot be corrupted in some way are scarce as hen’s teeth. But even if one leaves out the outrageous acts Trump has said he intends to commit, Establishment Republicans have their eyes on a long list of reactionary programs. For example, while Trump has said he will roll back the Affordable Care Act, Paul Ryan wants to go far beyond that. He wants to privatize Medicare, one of the most popular government programs. Medicare is far from perfect. To my mind the Federal government should provide medical care for everyone. This is, contrary to the babble of reactionaries, not free medical care. It simply means that medical care costs would be paid out of general funds, rather than the fee-for-service care that puts good medical care out of the reach of so many.

Republicans will rally around Trump because their political careers are more important to them than the fate of the Earth, and truth be told, they are “True Believers” and will join Trump enthusiastically, not reluctantly. Virtually all Republicans, for example, truly believe that cutting taxes for the already rich will create jobs, despite decades of evidence to the contrary. Of course, they also think it will fatten their wallets. They simply do not accept the obvious, that capitalism leads to monopoly, which effectively leads to an authoritarian regime. Once the government is explicitly authoritarian, overcoming it becomes far more difficult, although still not impossible.

With all the hand wringing by Democrats, once Trump is President, said Democrats will rush to curry favor from him, with precious few exceptions. Yet now, in the first few days after the election, there are demonstrations in many major cities around the country.

Here is the energy plan just released on Saturday November 12 by the Trump transition team. This is the face of what’s ahead. If implemented, this will take us back a half-century of more:

Rather than continuing the current path to undermine and block America’s fossil fuel producers, the Trump Administration will encourage the production of these resources by opening onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands and waters. We will streamline the permitting process for all energy projects, including the billions of dollars in projects held up by President Obama, and rescind the job-destroying executive actions under his Administration. We will end the war on coal, and rescind the coal mining lease moratorium, the excessive Interior Department stream rule, and conduct a top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama Administration. We will eliminate the highly invasive “Waters of the US” rule, and scrap the $5 trillion dollar Obama-Clinton Climate Action Plan and the Clean Power Plan and prevent these unilateral plans from increasing monthly electric bills by double-digits without any measurable effect on Earth’s climate.

It is without a doubt a difficult time for those living in places such as rural West Virginia, a very conservative state. Senator Manchin, a Democrat who is up for reelection in 2018, can be counted upon to back any plan to reinvigorate the coal industry, and this should be no surprise. Politicians work hard to get reelected, not to do the right thing. Those living in West Virginia suffering from the gradual demise of the coal industry are interested in feeding their kids and paying the rent. Still, the rest of the world, including China, is working to reduce the use of coal. I defer discussion of what economic system best suits the world of the future. Yet how to ameliorate the distress of West Virginians who are prey to the critical changes necessitated by climate change? It must be done, but how? Certainly not by burning more coal. A modern dilemma. It is akin to the difficult but real situation in places producing oil or gas.

There is both a short run and a long run. In the short run we can expect that:

  1. Republicans will rally around Trump because their political careers are more important to them than the fate of the Earth.
  2. Republicans really do believe that tax cuts for the rich will create jobs. Of course, they also think it will fatten their wallets.
  3. Democrats will want to curry favor from Trump.
  4. Putin will curry favor from Trump.
  5. Russia will be emboldened, and will indulge in military adventures.

In the long run, we can consider that election of Trump is, among other things, a cry of despair from whites, rich and poor, even though they do not understand that they despair because world demographics has already relegated them to minority status, and so-called minorities (so-called by whites, in their arrogance), those of brown, red, yellow and black skin already outnumber whites. Although not yet true in the United States, the day is rapidly approaching.

This post, although not published until November of 2017 was actually written in December of 2016. I’m publishing it anyway as a benchmark of sorts to begin my experience of the era of Donald Trump.

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