31 October 2020

Another brief, belated warning about Trumpism

Trump’s promises to ordinary Americans were all hot air. But I could have told you that four years ago.

‘Build the wall’? It was never built. It was never even properly planned or funded. All Trump has managed to do on questions of immigration, was to empower an increasingly-unaccountable quasi-fascist fœderal agency to carry out detentions and deportations (as well as beatings, rapes and forced sterilisations). And also add another layer of uncertainty and ambiguity to an opaque DHS which was already growing more hostile to legal immigrants and even tourists under the Obama Administration. (This is why visas were a key issue for me this time around, and neither Biden nor Trump has come close to delivering.)

‘Lock her up’? Actually, that’s a good question. Why isn’t that warmongering harpy spending the rest of her life in a fœderal prison where she clearly belongs? But the Trump Justice Department has made no real effort to indict Hillary Clinton on any charges, regarding ‘her e-mails’ or anything else for that matter. He never appointed a special counsel to investigate her. And Trump’s blustering at Barr over this situation now, one month out from the general election? Sad!

‘Drain the swamp’? Trump’s administration stands a fair shot at being one of the single dirtiest, most self-dealing and most nepotistic in our nation’s history – his rivals in that area being Jackson, Buchanan and Harding. The delegation of administration jobs to Kushner and to Trump’s own children is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how the Trump extended family is plundering the public. The Department of Education, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Energy – are all staffed by industry lobbyists whose clear financial interests are in subverting or dismantling the very agencies they oversee.

Bringing back manufacturing jobs? Trump’s record on this is actually no better than Obama’s was… not much worse, but also not one whit better. Expanding the economy by four percent a year? To be fair to him, Trump had a pretty good year in fiscal year 2018 – growth that year was 3.18%. But even in 2019, long before COVID hit, Trump’s œconomy was in slowdown mode as it became clear that the wheels were spinning without input. The trade war with China, together with the continued rollback of any kind of regulation on capital movement, actually hurt American workers more than they helped.

Taxes? Was Trump going to cut my taxes? Have you looked at your taxes lately, dear readers? I’ve got my returns right here in front of me. Our family paid $174 in fœderal income taxes in 2017, the last year of Obama’s tax scheme. In 2018, under Trump’s new tax plan, we paid $1,001 in fœderal income tax. That’s right – Trump increased my taxes during his first year in office by almost a factor of six. That’s largely on account of my 1099 schedule. That is to say, because I was working for myself and making income on my own rather than for a corporation, my taxes went up. Trump’s tax plan has actually punished entrepreneurship and individual initiative… at least when it comes from working-class people like me. I wasn’t alone. Lower- and middle-income families across the United States saw their fœderal income tax go up.

Peace in the Middle East? Trump conducted more drone strikes in one year than Obama did over his entire eight-year term. He is still murdering over 130 innocent children a day in Yemen together with the Saudis. He has moved the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem over the objections of Palestinians and not-insane Jews. He has bombed Syria twice. Trump keeps sending troops over there. He had a plan to assassinate Syria’s president Baššâr al-’Asad, and only Mattis was able to stop him. He actually did assassinate Qasem Soleimani and ’Abu Mahdî al-Muhandis, provoking a war with Iran which, thankfully, they declined to join. The treaties he is busy vaunting now as proof of his diplomatic acumen do little more than solidify a de facto alliance between Turkey, Israel and the Gulf States which has been in the making since at least 2008 – and increases tensions between the Shi‘a powers and the Sunnî powers in the region, making a future regional war more likely.

Fighting for life? The ‘most pro-life president ever’, even though this was one of his campaign promises, has done nothing at all to decrease fœderal funding to Planned Parenthood. Quite the opposite, in fact. In fiscal year 2017 Planned Parenthood self-reported that it performed a record-high number of abortions: 345,672. In response, in fiscal year 2018 (the first fœderal budget Trump was directly responsible for), the president increased taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood to $563 million, and then in 2019 he increased it again from $563 million to $617 million.

Remember: Planned Parenthood is a capitalist corporation masquerading as a non-profit. This is something Trump can easily understand and sympathise with. They are also the enemies of the working class – not just because they target working-class people to destroy their children and turn a buck in the process, but also because they abuse and oppress workers, bust unions and call in the fœds to break up strikes. And the Trump Administration has been more than happy to oblige them in this. As an aside – it’s appalling to me that anyone who considers themselves leftist could support this anti-worker, anti-human business. That’s where culture war logic has led us, sad to say. But I digress.

Pro-life justices? Please. Trump’s appointments mean exactly nothing. Kavanaugh is literally pro-choice, and Barrett – whatever her personal convictions – will do nothing on Roe. As I’ve said before, culture war battles at the fœderal level are almost completely irrelevant to what actually happens on the ground. Legislative action is needed, but the Republicans simply don’t want to let go of that ace in their hand that means they can turn out the pro-life Evangelical and Catholic vote for them whenever they want. All that effort wasted in trying to overturn Roe through the executive branch and literally nothing to show for it.

It’s really hard to overstate this. Trumpism is a dead letter. It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s a shell game. It’s a con. It’s as fake as pro wrestling and reality TV. As I’ve said before, Biden’s record is really not that much better – that’s why I voted third party again this year. I am really not saying anything new here, however, that was not already apparent in 2016.

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