With the relentlessly bad news about Donald Trump’s election victory and the team he is compiling to run the country, I must confess to feeling completely overwhelmed by it all. Trump’s cabinet picks are so genuinely terrifying that trying to comprehend the new America we will soon be living is an act of courage in of itself.
It is our job here at the Banter to cover all of this and try to make sense of it to our readers, but the reality is that most of us here are having a very difficult time figuring out exactly what Trump’s policies will mean, and how his team of right wing lunatics will go about governing. I was hoping for something positive to latch onto — the promise to rid the government of lobbyists, the pledge to impose term limits on Congress, and the bold new infrastructure plan Trump boasted about during the campaign. But as the days wore on and the horror show of cabinet appointees got progressively more insane, it now seems clear that a Trump’s America will mostly resemble Putin’s Russia — a deeply corrupt, quasi-fascist oligarchy where government power is used to enrich the billionaire class, attack the press, and repress minorities.
Trump and his surrogates are already floating a Muslim registry, have been working to speed up immigrant deportations, are promising to repeal vital financial regulations, and have pledged to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Today, we learned Trump is appointing known racist Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. This is bad. Very, very bad.
In response to this, the media appears to be doing its collective best to normalize Trump and play down his overtly fascistic policy proposals. The new “nice” Trump was rolled out on 60 Minutes last weekend, and many Americans appear to think it isn’t going to be as bad as we all thought. This is patently absurd — there is no logical reason to think Trump will suddenly reverse decades of atrocious behavior when he takes office. His cabinet picks are highly revealing and make it absolutely clear that he intends to run the country as a dictator. He is surrounding himself with dangerously incompetent people who won’t challenge him, won’t question his decisions, and won’t hesitate to carry out his orders. We saw much of this with the Bush Administration in the early 2000’s, but Trump’s team of oligarchs, virulent racists and warmongers make Dick Cheney and his cabal of neocons look like pacifists.
The response to this from the Left cannot under any circumstances be anything other than all out war. The Republican Party subjected President Obama to eight years of unprecedented obstructionism, and the Democrats must respond in kind. This isn’t political retribution though — it is a battle to preserve the basic functioning of government and American democracy. Trump and the Republicans are going to gut Medicare and Medicaid, wreck the lives of the working poor, and place the economy in great danger by rolling back vital regulations protecting us from the ravages of Wall Street. As Joy Ann Reid wrote in The Daily Beast, those who voted for Trump are about to find out that billionaires “who live in golden penthouses are rarely populists, and even more rarely heroic”:
Trump, who in his own history as a developer preferred mob concrete and Chinese steel to the variety produced in the Rust Belt, cannot bring back the steel and manufacturing jobs lost in Lorain, Ohio or western Pennsylvania. No president can force shuttered mills to reopen, or companies who’ve left in search of cheaper labor to relocate to the United States (or those who have come back to choose expensive humans over cheaper robots.) Even if he manages to slap massive tariffs on Chinese-made goods, the only outcome will be much higher prices at Wal-Mart.
Meanwhile, anyone still wondering why Paul Ryan quietly slipped on his MAGA cap during the election will soon understand. On the off chance Trump pulled off an improbable win, Ryan knew he would be on track to enact his life’s dream: turning Medicare into a voucher program and forcing future of the most popular government program since Social Security into private insurance HMOs. According to Josh Marshall, who cites Ryan’s own website, the “phasing out” of Medicare begins in March.
Trump’s tax plan will sock it to single mothers, by ending the ability to file as head of household and thus raising taxes on unmarried filers. The tax hikes will be higher the more children you have. Anyone who doesn’t itemize deductions will likely get a onetime check for a few hundred dollars, the way George W. Bush did his “middle class tax cut.”
To prevent this from happening means elected Democrats must filibuster, refuse to work with Republicans, and work feverishly to get elected at all levels of government. Trump must be stopped at every turn with as much fire power as possible, and Democrats who refuse to fight should be run out of the party quickly. There are two years until the midterm elections, but it is still a huge window for Trump and his team to create an enormous amount of damage. We know that Trump can be provoked, and when he is provoked, he makes mistakes. So provoke him we must, and at the first whiff of any ethical violation while in office, the Left must pounce and move towards impeachment. As Michael Moore said in the wake of the election, “This is why we’re not going to have to suffer through four years of Donald J. Trump, because he has no ideology except the ideology of Donald J. Trump. When you have a narcissist like that, who’s so narcissistic where it’s all about him, he will, maybe unintentionally, break laws.”
For those of us who have followed Donald Trump, this isn’t speculation, it’s an absolute certainty. Whether Democrats are willing to capitalize on it is another matter entirely, but if they do not, you can say goodbye to American democracy as we know it.
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Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.