Since the election, I’ve engaged in countless conversations with friends and family about Trump’s presidency. Generally, they go one of two ways: a shared sorrow for our country’s declining democracy, or me debunking misinformation that led to a Trump vote.
When it comes to the latter, the refrain I hear most often is, “Maybe he’ll make things better.”
How, exactly? Because he’s not a politician?
By that logic, if you put me in an emergency room with a scalpel, I’d make things better. After all, I’d bring the same level of experience to the job.
This naïve optimism eventually dissolves into woeful acknowledgement of our dire straits, confirmed with last week’s inauguration. Now their faces are as bleak as the empty seats on the parade route, and they mutter a more cautious note: “I just hope it doesn’t get as bad as you think.”
For the record, it’s not just me. It’s the world’s best and brightest who’ve been warning us of this catastrophe for more than 18 months: journalists Chris Hedges, Carl Bernstein, Dan Rather, David Cay Johnston; economists Robert Reich, Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman; political analysts John Heilemann, Mark Halperin; and cultural critics Bill Moyers, Noam Chomsky, Neal Gabler.
Knowing where to turn for guidance is why my hypothetical stint in the E.R. would be less catastrophic than Trump’s presidency. Unlike him, I value expertise, knowledge, and empirical data. Our new president, on the other hand, has no interest in, or respect for, learning, self-development, or fact finding. The only politician more arrogant in her ignorance is Sarah Palin, and we’d be blessed if Trump’s tenure proves to be as brief.
Before you disregard this post as another rant from some disgruntled Hillary supporter, I remind you that while I may be disgruntled, I am too independently minded to discard critical thinking in favor of any political party’s ideology - a skill plenty of the population could benefit from.
Whether we accept it or not, we will all feel the effects of this epic disaster, but it may take time, depending on how far up the economic rung we reside. Regardless, by the end, we’ll all be on the same level - the bottom.
Over the next four years, we will witness our quality of life, liberty, and happiness decline, and no, it will not be Obama’s fault, although you better believe he’ll get the blame.
Positive change will not come from the Trump administration - or any administration full of billionaire tycoons dismantling whichever arm of government keeping them from evading taxes, polluting water, or protecting consumers. While politicians have been doing this for the past three decades, the line between corporate interests and government enablers has officially been erased.
As long as you’re in the 99 percent, Trump will not improve your quality of life, nor will he elevate our reputation abroad.
The same global citizens who celebrated Obama’s victory eight years ago watched in horror as we elected a candidate so privileged the first job he ever applied for was President, at age 70. Now these citizens of the world participate in anti-Trump protests across the globe, hoping and praying that whatever mass delusion afflicting the American people won’t spread like a venereal disease throughout the industrialized world.
No, Trump will not make things better. He will not make America great.
The truth is America made itself less great by electing Trump.
And this is why:
1. You cannot believe anything Trump says, as everything out of his mouth is utter bullshit.
But don’t take my word for it. Take that of psychologists Dan P. McAdams, Howard Gardner, or George Simon. Or that of psychologist Maria Konnikova, or Ben Michaelis, or Bilal Ghandour. Or psychotherapist Charlotte Prozan. Or the three psychologists who pleaded with Obama for a Trump psychiatric evaluation. Or a Pulitzer Prize-winning science reporter. Or the TIME journalist who wrote The Narcissist Next Door. Or skim any of the 634,000 results that populate when you Google “Donald Trump + narcissist”, despite the fact that psychologists are not even supposed to weigh in on such things. Hell, even the economists can tell he’s mentally unstable.
Trump, like anyone suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, has a tenuous relationship with his word, or for that matter, any words. They are not to be taken literally, or adhered to, or even attempted to be interpreted by a translator.
Narcissists use words for only one purpose: to win perceived arguments.
The narcissist will say anything to maintain his own inflated sense of superiority.
Any disagreement, correction, or accountability is viewed as a challenge to his self-worth. Thus, Trump will lie, deny, or refute any evidence to the contrary, even if said evidence came out of his mouth a half-second, or half-sentence, earlier. (See The Newt Gingrich Reversal)
The narcissist’s life is one long reality show where the contestant’s only challenge is to one-up everyone around him. There is so little consistency those around him feel like they are going crazy. This form of crazy-making is called gaslighting. (You should familiarize yourself with it now, as you’re about to experience a whole lot more of it.)
Unfortunately, for Americans - and anyone in Trump’s orbit - a narcissist is unlikely, and unwilling, to change, even with psychotherapy, medication, or counseling. His entitlement, lack of empathy, and disregard for anyone without power are permanent defects.
Narcissistic people are pure hell to live with or work with. Narcissistic bosses are notorious bullies. They are strangers to objectivity, integrity, or another’s point of view. They are incapable of introspection, and their idea of self-reflection is noticing their own appearance in the rearview mirror, where they’ll likely pay themselves a compliment.
Ask anyone who’s had one for a boss, and they’ll confirm a history of ulcers, anti-anxiety meds, and battered self-esteem that takes years from which to recover.
They cannot be reasoned with, as there is no compromise, only hubris. They will do whatever it takes to win, even if it requires cheating, conspiring, or entirely changing the criteria. This is why Trump’s campaign showed no scruples, no playbook, and for the most part, no information based in reality, real or virtual.
The narcissist lives life drunk on power, and he‘s one hell of an abusive drunk.
It’s been noted that Melania may be the first victim of Trump – and the argument is pretty compelling. Because narcissism’s incurable, the other person in the relationship will be forced to escape to retain her sanity.
Considering a narcissist will view an ex-wife as little more than a possession that’s lost its value, Trump would quickly recover. Too bad we can’t say the same for Melania’s emotional damage. I challenge anyone not to view her anti-bullying pleas in the coming days as a metaphor for her own domestic distress.
2. No, Trump will not improve the economy, stupid.
Contrary to popular belief, giving corporations and wealthy people more tax cuts do not, have not, and cannot precipitate economic growth. The fact that so many politicians continue to promote this myth proves how unqualified they are to tackle any of America’s problems.
Whether it’s called Reaganomics, Trickle-Down Economics, Voodoo, Supply Side, or laissez-faire, by any name, it’s bullshit.
No, this is not partisan rabble. This is merely fact. But don’t take my word for it.
Consider Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author of Who Stole the American Dream? Hedrick Smith:
The laissez-faire philosophy of the past three decades promised that deregulation, lower taxes, and free trade would lift all boats. It argued that sharply reduced taxes for the rich would generate the capital for America’s economic growth. Its disciples asserted that the free market would spread the wealth. But this is not what happened. The middle class was left behind. From 1948 to 1973, the productivity of all nonfarm U.S. workers grew by 96.8% and the hourly compensation of the average worker rose by 93.7%. In short, middle-class workers got a solid share of the nation’s gains in productivity. From 1973 to 2011, the productivity of the U.S. workforce rose 80.1%, but the wages of the average worker rose only 4.2%, and hourly compensation – wages plus benefits – rose only 10%.
If that’s too much math, how about the public policy research institute Center for American Progress:
Three decades of empirical economic data shows that supply-side economics doesn’t work. Investment growth was weaker under supply-side policies. Productivity growth was weaker. Overall economic growth was weaker. There was faster job creation without supply-side policy. Middle Class incomes stagnated. Wages fell. Did the supply side policies of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush work? Did they boost investment, spur growth, and cause prosperity to trickle down? The data says no.
Too progressive? How about the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD):
This study dispels the assumptions that the benefits of economic growth will automatically trickle down to the disadvantaged and that greater inequality fosters greater social mobility. Without a comprehensive strategy for inclusive growth, inequality will continue to rise.
Or how about someone a little closer to home, like Bruce Bartlett, former domestic policy advisor to Ronald Reagan, one of the originators of Reaganomics, and author of (spoiler alert!) The New American Economy: The Failure of Reaganomics and a New Way Forward:
The final proof that tax cuts are not the be-all and end-all of growth policy is the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which dropped the top income-tax rate to 28 percent. Conservative doctrine predicted an economic boom, but I don’t remember one, nor can I find one in the data. Those economists who claim to be following Reagan’s policies by supporting Mr. Trump’s large tax-cut proposal are guilty of one-size-fits-all economics. There is far more evidence from the last 35 years showing that tax increases do more to stimulate growth than tax cuts.
And this doesn’t even include Thom Hartmann, who’s made a career debunking this trickle-down nonsense in books, on radio, and basically anywhere a reasonable human being can be reached. (The Twentieth Century, maybe?)
Considering the consensus on Reaganomics, why do Donald Trump and every other millionaire politician campaign to cut taxes for the wealthy? Could it be they only care about their own wealth accumulation and nothing about investing in their country, helping the American people, or sustaining economic growth? In other words, greed.
There is only one way an economy grows in a capitalist society: when ALL citizens have enough money to spend.
Entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and pro-economic equalizer Nick Hanauer says it best:
Rich people do not create jobs, nor do businesses large or small. Jobs are a consequence of a circle-of-life feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion this virtuous cycle of increasing demand and hiring. In this sense an ordinary consumer is more of a job creator than a capitalist. We’ve had it backwards for the last 30 years… The true job creators are Middle Class consumers. Taxing the rich to make investments [in order] to make the middle class grow and thrive is the single shrewdest thing we can do for the Middle Class, the poor, and the rich.
The only thing more tax cuts do is create greater inequality between the 1% and the 99%, as all of those rebates are taken out of programs for the lower and middle classes, like Planned Parenthood, SNAP, healthcare, and other social services.
In case there is any doubt, Trump and his cabinet are all 1%-ers - the very demographic that created our inequality problem. The middle class is not disappearing because of poor people. It’s disappearing because all economic gains are being funneled to the 1%.
This is the reason income taxes for lower and middle class Americans are so high: because the 1% pay so little.
The majority of the 1% who do not work or earn a paycheck live off capital gains and dividends. Before Reagan took office, this type of money – the kind that’s free (i.e., trust funds) – was taxed at 70%. The logic was: the harder you worked, the less your salary is taxed. So if you did nothing to earn your money, you should pay a higher tax for it. When Reagan and other Republican presidents slashed this rate down to 15%, our nation’s debt was created, and we have never recovered. It is because the leisure class pays such low tax rates that those who pay income taxes from actual jobs are overburdened. And no funding cuts from PBS, NPR, Planned Parenthood, or anything other than military waste will solve that problem.
3. No, Trump will not bring back jobs or manufacturing to the U.S.
Those factories in the Rust Belt are gone forever, for a wide variety of reasons.
First, the business class saw the profitability of outsourcing jobs and moving industry to countries where peasants work for pennies, i.e., our free trade policy. Unless you want to pay $2,000 for a new iPhone, they will continue to be made in countries where wages are below the poverty line. We can barely afford the low-priced goods made in China, especially when many families are already working 2.5 jobs and still can’t pay rent. Unless workers earn more wages (something Trump doesn’t believe in), WalMart, Ross, and dollar stores are the new Macy’s, Sears, and Bloomingdale’s.
Second, many of the dying industries in this country have refused to evolve along with our ever-changing world. The automobile and oil & gas industries are shining examples of such obstinance. Instead of developing cars of the future, auto manufacturers have refused to modernize. Thus, today’s tech giants are pioneering the future of travel. See Google’s self-driving car, or Tesla’s electric vehicles, or Lyft’s ride-sharing public transit. You won’t find a Hummer or oversized SUV in your children’s future. Likewise, unless you live in California, you won’t find a job in tomorrow’s automotive industry either. The gas guzzling automobile’s days are numbered, which leads us back to Oil & Gas: Instead of exploring alternative fuels for a safer, more sustainable society, like Jimmy Carter urged back in the late 1970s, the oil industry (and the politicians they’ve poisoned) prefer to fund terrorists groups, destroy the planet, and enrich administrations and their cronies, all to ensure their business model isn’t compromised. So what if Louisiana is losing a football field worth of wetlands per hour due to coastal erosion? Or that the only sensible way to respond to 9/11 was to end our addiction to oil in order to cut off terrorists’ money supply? We wouldn’t want our billion-dollar oil industry and their political dynasties downgraded to millionaire-status, would we?
Third, if the Rust Belt is to be revitalized, then it must embrace diversity, open-mindedness and science, which are all currently funneled into red state resentment by an increasingly short-sighted Republican party more focused on rallying racist sentiments for election cycles than giving their constituents a fighting chance at a future.
4. No, Trump will not drain the swamp. His cronies are the swamp, and he’s the Swamp Thing.
He appointed Rick Perry to be Secretary of Energy, replacing a nuclear physicist with one failed Dancing with the Stars contestant who received a D and F in Organic Chemistry. Not only did Perry once want to eliminate this department, he mistakenly believed it was some sort of Oil & Gas lobby. The reality is it involves looking after our nuclear arsenal. Call me crazy, but the responsibility of guarding the nuclear codes should probably demand more experience than watching a rerun of The Day After.
Trump appointed Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education, replacing a former New York State Education Commissioner with one Amway heiress-turned-campaign funder who can’t grasp basic grammar, doesn’t understand the difference between growth and proficiency, and considers grizzly bears a greater threat to public schools than handguns. (Smoky should be the least of their worries with this level of ineptitude.)
Trump appointed Andrew Puzder to be Secretary of Labor, replacing Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice with one CEO of a fast-food company famous for low wages. Considering this department is responsible for occupational safety, unemployment insurance, and wage standards, surely we could find someone who places a greater value on a living wage than living for hot chicks in bikinis who sell sex with a side of fries in national ad campaigns. (That sound you hear is Daniel J. Boorstin barfing up a burger in his grave.)
Trump appointed Scott Pruitt to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, replacing undersecretary for policy in Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs with one climate change denier who’s made a career suing the EPA for doing what it’s supposed to do - protect human health and the environment. (This irony is so rich, it can’t even qualify for an Alanis Morissette lyric.)
Trump appointed Ben Carson to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, replacing a former San Antonio City Councilman and Mayor with one retired neurosurgeon. Who else to put in charge of urban planning than the only black guy Trump knew? Oh, and he probably owns a house too, so there’s that. And I suppose an architect’s X-Acto knife is kinda like a scalpel, so... I guess we’re done here.
The point is none of these people can have a positive effect on divisions of government they benefit from defunding, deregulating, and destroying. It shouldn’t take a sip of lead-filled tap water to make you feel uneasy about this potential devastation. These individuals will be profiting off of their unearned positions of power.
It is not that Trump and his family will use the influence of government to increase their wealth, although this will certainly take place on a massive scale; it is that hundreds of billions of federal dollars will be diverted into the hands of cronies, sleazy bankers, unethical financial firms and scabrous hedge fund managers.
This is an American authoritarian kleptocracy, backed by millionaire white nationalists both in the United States and abroad, meant to strip our country down for parts, often using ethnic violence to do so.
This is why Wall Street has yet to stammer at Trump’s power grab - it may be great for business. But what’s great for business is generally not great for consumers. (This is why Disney regularly downsizes entire divisions in order to inflate quarterly profits. So, your Disney stock goes up, but your job went to Neverland along with your pension.)
In Trump’s America, our tax dollars will be funneled to private, no-bid contractors who have no accountability and will exploit people for profits, like when privatized prisons are incentivized to lock up more people for a larger check from Uncle Sam.
To ensure broad prosperity, government has four crucial roles to play: first, to help people weather the vicissitudes that easily plunge families into poverty, for instance job loss or ill health; second, to provide escalators of upward mobility, such as quality schooling, higher education, and mortgage assistance; third, to build the nation’s infrastructure, thus laying the groundwork for the next great economic boom; and fourth, to rein in marketplace abuses through regulation, and to prevent excessive concentrations of wealth through progressive taxation.
Business, on the other hand, has one goal: to make money.
It’s easy to see how these roles are mutually exclusive.
The government exists to provide services the business sector has no financial incentive to provide.
Our politicians should not double as businessmen - you cannot provide services needed to protect a democracy when those in charge are concerned with padding their bank accounts.
With the Trump administration, that’s exactly what we now have: the mergence of business into the government, creating a kleptocracy, exactly like Putin’s Russia. (Not a coincidence.)
This corrosive course was put in motion under the Bush administration, and because we failed to hold them accountable, it will be irreversible the second time around.
Government became an instrument to use public funds, manpower, and property to serve the needs of private business and other supporters. Lobbyists came in to run government agencies, and later left for lucrative jobs in private industry. Functions of government were eliminated and privatized so as to provide private profits at public expense - even intelligence-gathering and military functions. Public lands were seen as resources for private gain. A form of corruption returned, with overt bribes largely being replaced by implicit guarantees of lucrative jobs with companies helped financially by public officials.
This privateering is basically profiteering. Public funds provide capital for private corporations to take over the functions of the government, at a higher cost, while avoiding all accountability.
Once again, we get to witness the devastation; once again, we are powerless to do anything about it.
5. No, even if Trump is impeached, things will not get better.
At this point, getting rid of the narcissist in chief is little different than playing Whack-A-Mole. There are so many deplorable politicians in the fright-wing ranks of what was once the Republican party, it will be next to impossible to enact positive change before the next election cycle, or at least until a D.C. batch of prune juice has a Salmonella outbreak.
What should have been a come-to-Jesus moment in 2016 for a political party that’s long lost its core values, common decency, and any contact with reality, instead landed in complete power by an electoral upset. This was despite popular opinion, and in direct opposition to popular opinion.
The American people chose Trump because he was a referendum on the Republican establishment. Nevertheless, that very establishment Americans were rallying against is now running the government.
So much for a referendum. Instead, they will ram through policies that will drive the middle and lower classes deeper into debt, and they will have learned nothing in the process.
If anyone is in doubt about how morally bankrupt the conservatives in power are, or how Machiavellian the Speaker of the House is, I offer these examples from the first three weeks of 2017:
Senate Republicans introduce bill to slash security at US embassies, in effect recreating the conditions that led to the Benghazi debacle they tried to pin on Hillary Clinton.
Republicans prep to blow $1 trillion hole in the deficit in order to Repeal Obamacare, which would result in tax cuts for the wealthy and tax increases and lost insurance for the rest of us. This includes blocking an amendment that would keep poor children from losing their Medicaid. But who cares if the poverty class dies off as long as the 400 wealthiest households get a tax cut? I guess this means another Kardashian ass implant is better for economic growth than a child’s EpiPen.
The Senate voted against an amendment that would support maintaining preexisting-condition protections for health insurance. Thus, Americans can once again be denied health care coverage for being female, or for having seasonal allergies, or for not being wealthy.
House Republicans revive arcane 1876 procedural rule that allows them to slash the pay of an individual federal employee to $1, also known as the Holman Rule, as the word ‘douchebag’ had not yet been coined.
Senate Republicans refuse to give the House Ethics Committee more time to vet Cabinet picks. That means neither the public nor lawmakers will really know if Trump’s picks have any damning conflicts of interests. This frightening possibility means that lawmakers will be uninformed about what they’re actually voting on, giving them plausible deniability, and prohibiting overwhelmed newsrooms from adequate background checks and thoroughly covering the hearings along with Trump’s press conference and Senate votes.
House of Representatives pass a bill that could cripple the ability of government to regulate private industry. This means that federal agencies entrusted with enforcing the Clean Air Act or other FDA or EPA protections will no longer be able to do their job, allowing corporations to circumvent laws enacted to protect consumers. (Are you there, Erin Brockovich? It’s me, Margaret. I’ve got cancer.)
The day Trump took office, the White House website removed all pages about civil rights, LGBT protections, and climate change science, confirming the administration’s disregard for minorities, diversity, and science.
Republicans plan to roll back parts of the landmark Endangered Species Act, acted in 1973 to stave off extinction of the bald eagle. Because if global warming is going to destroy us anyway, we may as well go out with a bang - one that shoots down an eagle as an apt symbol for our dying democracy.
Trump wants internet neutrality foe Ajit Pai to chair the FCC, which means the rich could have faster internet service, and your provider could create roadblocks if it doesn’t like the sites you visit. (i.e., any sites that promote independent thought or contain a PDF of Orwell’s 1984.)
If this isn’t proof that Americans who voted for Trump voted against their best interest, then perhaps they’ll realize it once they’ve lost their healthcare, social security, job prospects, and any hope for their chrildren’s future.
For those who couldn’t identify the signs of a narcissist—
For those who cheered a bully as he belittled the disabled—
For those who failed to recognize the fascist undertones of another Hitler or Mussolini—
For those who refused to see through blatant hypocrisy—
And for those who dismissed his pussy-grabbing as locker-room talk—
By the time you accept your complicity in this con, the rest of us will be too disgusted to even mutter, “we told you so.”
There is no pleasure in being right as the world collapses around you. There is no joy in seeing clearly when everyone else is blind. And there is no comfort in hindsight when the damage is irreparable.
The only way Trump can make America great again is by conning us into believing it. You either see the con, or you believe the con.
This is how he got elected in the first place - by selling us on an idea, an ad slogan. And this marketing image is all he has.
Because the reality is he’s dismantling our democracy from the inside. He’s pilfering our tax dollars for his campaign contributors. And he’s destroying our livelihood with his arrogance and ignorance.
As long as we continue to believe his bullshit, we enable this mass delusion.
If you really want to make America great again, then demand the kleptocrats get the hell out of the White House before these nuts strip everything but the bolts.
And if you have difficulty discerning jokes from reality in this post, it’s merely an indication of how big a joke our reality has become.