Trump’s dangerous impulses

This entry is part 4 of 6 in The Vote Manifesto,

a series of posts on why and how we organize in the age of Trump.

DANDERIn my previous post, I argued that we should not be lulled by false hopes based upon the pivot from candidate Trump to president Trump. But, one might say, maybe Trump’s 40-year pattern of misbehavior won’t be translated into policy. However, even the earliest indications, both from his camp and from his congressional enablers, indicate that those views, predilections, and behavioral deficiencies will in fact guide Trump’s policies in ways that will cause grievous harm to people, to institutions, and to the environment.

First, let me be clear here that I’m going to write about the damage a Trump administration will inflict because of the Trump the man, rather than just policies that I may deeply disagree with. For example, Trump’s tax proposals, more or less the same as budge charlatan Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s, are budget-busting, big giveaways to the rich that will probably result in long-term cuts on social programs. But, sadly, that’s what we would expect a conventional Republican to do.

Rather, I’m going to address the more impending harm to be inflicted because of Trump policies that reflect the racism, sexism, and climate denial in which Trump has engaged for the extent of his adult life that will occur under president Trump. While there are many potential areas, for the sake of blog-post brevity let me highlight just two.

First, let’s talk race. In the past few years, prompted by, on the left, the Black Lives Matter movement, and, on the right, by the Koch brothers, there has been an increasing bipartisan interest in penal reform. The latter’s objection to the current, race-based incarceration regime appears primarily based upon the belated realization that jails cost tax money, although apparently also on the motivation to change how corporations, like theirs, are prosecuted and perhaps to profit on re-entry programs, but still, it may be progress.. The former’s’ interest in reform, as brilliantly articulated in Michelle Alexander’s brilliant and devastating The New Jim Crow, results from the understanding that the combination of discriminatory policing, discriminatory sentencing, the over-criminalization of drugs, three-strikes laws, mandatory sentencing laws, legal discrimination against felons, and many states’ prohibiting felons from voting have resulted in the social, political, and cultural marginalization of two generations of black men in America. But, before this election, there seemed to be some momentum for progress on this front.

Donald Trump, though, ran explicitly on “law and order,” a racial code most famously used by Richard Nixon. Amazingly enough, he brought that up in what his campaign thought was an appeal to African Americans, but was clearly code to white voters assuring them that their candidate really does care (for example, if he really wanted a conversation with African Americans, then he would not have declined an invitation to address the NAACP). It’s safe to say, then, that any sort of reform of the criminal justice system will wait until Trump is no longer president. For at least another four years, we can expect that there will be no executive support for positive action on any of these coterie of issues at the federal level. What’s the cost? Literally millions of more people of color jailed, and, even after they get out, sentenced to live in a civil twilight in which they can’t get jobs, can’t vote, aren’t eligible for public housing or other benefits, and are often shunned by their own communities, not to mention the damage inflicted on their families.

The sustainability of civilization on the planet, alas, will also take a bigger hit with Trump than with a more conventional political of either party. Having long attributed the very real, measurable phenomenon of global warming to a Chinese hoax, he is reportedly considering Myron Ebell, a man who made his name as a tobacco industry shill before becoming a professional science denialist, for the top job at the Environmental Protection Agency. It is no exaggeration to say that’s like putting a flat-earther in charge of NASA. (Incidentally, even after the New York Times proudly patted itself on the back this campaign season for finally calling out politicians for lies instead of engaging in she-said, he-said journalism, somehow its recent profile of Ebell refrained from calling him the charlatan and crank that he is. But I digress). In any case, we can expect irreparable harm to a fragile environment in which every day we delay makes the irreversibility of global warming that much more imminent.

I’m in no way ignoring the gender front, but there it’s a little harder to know what to expect, and whether Trump will pursue policies all that divergent from Republicans’ deplorable record on gender the past few decades. One thing we can count on is that, with the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice, women’s reproductive rights will be on the chopping block. There had already been some rumblings that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, the unit that has taken responsibility for enforcing Title IX on college campuses, may be greatly scaled back, although, unfortunately, that would likely happen under any Republican administration. And of course who knows what will happen when cases affecting women’s pay and other issues reach the Supreme Court, but then again, those would have happened under any Republican.

And I’m not getting into, yet, Trump’s anti-semitism (if you release, as your last case to the voters, an anti-semitic campaign ad, then, yes, in my book, you’re anti-semitic).

Nor am I ignoring the damage that will be inflicted to our social safety net, although, again, sadly, we would expect any Republican to value furthering their class war on behalf of the rich. I’ll have more on that in a subsequent post.

I’m also still very aware that Trump’s lack of attention span and apparently absent superego could be significant issues, and that we may have the most corrupt presidential administration in memory. Yet another topic for a future post.

Furthermore, there’s Trump’s appalling disregard for public expression and dissent, again, a topic that I’ll be getting to.

In other words, there’s still a lot to explain concerning why I believe Trump is a threat to Americans, our values, and our future, one that we are obligated to mobilize in order to resist with all legal means at our disposal.

Next time, I’m going to write about why we can’t trust Trump’s advisors or other institutions to temper Trump’s worst impulses.

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