Trump’s new world order, family and tribes – Part 2
Trump has been steadfast in support of his Republican tribe, and this is reflected in measures with regard to the economy, the Judiciary and Defence spending with one caveat, namely, the dramatic new direction the party has taken under him. Trump’s Republican brand is no longer the party that advocates free trade, fiscal responsibility, consistent foreign policy anchored to long term allies and civility. These principles championed according to ABC by the forgotten Republicans, have given way to the Trump doctrine, whose common thread now is authoritarianism and racism. While racism was always there since Nixon and Reagan adopted the “southern strategy,” Trump has been much bolder and appointed people such as his Attorney General and Steve Bannon, his former strategist who are sympathetic and/or have espoused racist views. Trump’s loyalty to his White tribe extends beyond the USA. He has criticized the EU for opening its borders to immigrants, a point he stressed in his most recent visit to the continent. He has recently falsely criticised the South African government on killings of Whites and land redistribution policies – Whites who make up 8% of the population own 72% of the land that had been acquired from Blacks under its Apartheid system. He only raises such concerns when they involve his White tribe, and is noticeably silent on injustices around the world which do not involve his tribe. He has not made any reference to the Rohingy as even though the UN has just announced that they are facing genocide.
Trump has been very loyal to his rich tribe, giving them tax cuts, getting rid of “onerous” regulations and surrounding himself with millionaires and billionaires in his cabinet and more tax cuts are planned. Trump, largely because of his devout Christian Vice President has been loyal to White Evangelical Christians as demonstrated in the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, statements and policies at home and abroad relating to abortion, appointments to the Supreme Court and his current friction with Turkey.
Losers, those outside the tribes, the country as a whole and America’s allies are obviously very unhappy with this president. Democrats and many independents are strongly opposed to his assault on cherished Obama and general liberal policies relating to the environment, healthcare tax give- away to the rich, and consumer rights. The country as a whole is not a Trump fan with disapproval rates consistently higher than approval rates in polls since taking office. While his policies have no doubt built on Obama’s legacy in reducing unemployment, real wages for most Americans, after taking into account inflation, have not increased and following his much touted tax cuts, companies have not passed on the reduced taxes to workers, rather, they have passed on those gains to rich shareholders, buying back shares and increasing dividends. His threats and actions to damage Obamacare without a credible replacement has been unpopular. Furthermore, the huge deficit caused by his tax cuts which is projected to increase the national debt by a third has been described as a national security issue by USA Today, particularly as it makes the country less able to withstand another recession. Even among the winners there are concerns. American businesses are worried about his import tax hikes, causing him to fall out with some free market business supporters, notably, the Koch brothers. Some of his rural and working supporters have voiced their concerns about the negative impacts of the tariffs.
The most corrosive aspect of Trump’s statements and actions relate to the effect on America’s democracy, the divisive nature of this administration, the absence of analysis in the policy making process and damage to the country’s science culture. His attacks on the media and judiciary are weakening the bedrocks of American democracy. He calls mainstream media “fake news” and he is a serial liar, calculated by the Washington Post to be over 4,000 since he took office. This assault on the democratic process is having the effect Trump desires. A recent poll revealed that 43% of Republicans are willing to give Trump the power to close down media organisations and 52% would support postponing the 2020 presidential election if proposed by Trump. Polls indicate that a high proportion of Republican voters are favourably inclined to authoritarian rule and leaders. It is frightening watching Trump supporters at his rallies vent their anger at opponents and reporters, notably the vitriol directed at CNN reporter Acosta, egged on by their leader. The baying crowds at Trump rallies are reminiscent of the dark moods preceding the downfall of the Weimar Republic. It should be noted that racial prejudice and a feeling that they had been victimised by outside forces and the world were critical factors in the ascent of the monster regime that followed that republic. Trump has been very successful at engendering unwavering, slavish and sycophantic support from his base hence with all his actions which normally have caused voters to reject such a politician he still commands 85-90% of the support of Republicans.
America is deeply divided and members of the two major parties only exchange blows and insults and Trump is largely to blame even though the seeds started germinating before he came on board. In his inflammatory language, actions and insults, he is shaping the Republican Party into a unprincipled (to traditional Republican values) base that primarily watch, listen and trust Fox and other right wing media, adhere to the diktats of their dear leader and are vehemently hostile to Democrats, the media and non-White immigrants.
To be continued tomorrow.
Rogers is a principal consultant, Media and Event Management, Oxford, United Kingdom.