Friday, January 20, 2017

Will weak opposition to Trump's Back to the Future sequel help keep this country stuck in a reactionary past?

The other day, Donald Trump practiced his State of the Union speech before a lily-white millionaire and billionaire donor audience, and of course he repeated the disingenuous self-promotion and praising those in his elitist inner circle of “beautiful people,” relatives and friends. These were the people who were going to make America “great” again, at least for themselves. Trump also told us that he was “proud” of his cabinet picks. One suspects, of course, that when Trump first learned the shocking truth that he had actually been elected president, he was initially so discombobulated that he confused his loyal “alt-right” supporters by suggesting that he intended to be president of all Americans, not just their insular, bigoted minority. But since then Trump has apparently been a lap dog for Steve Bannon and other alt-right “advisors,” accepting their “suggestions” for helping guide him on ruling the country. 

Trump’s press secretary defended his failure to include a single Hispanic in his cabinet by claiming that only the “best and brightest” were selected, which to her credit CNN’s Ana Navarro—a Republican—took great offense to. The reality is that hardly anyone that on Trump’s proposed cabinet is actually “qualified” for their prospective position. The  Interior Department is to be headed by someone who has the “right” pro-business credentials, but just because he is from a Montana boondock doesn’t mean he knows anything being a steward of the land—in fact quite the opposite is indicated by his record; under him, the designated head of the EPA only has a record of dissent and stalling in regard to his responsibilities. 

The former Marine general who is the proposed Secretary of Defense has publicly expressed contempt for “bureaucracy”—meaning civilian oversight of the military, which is supposed to be the point the post. Trump’s new energy secretary, former Texas governor Rick Perry, once demanded the abolishment of the post. Trump’s proposed Attorney General has record of contempt for civil and voting rights, and we could go on and on from there with Trump’s “picks” for other positions, most of whom have either a military or billionaire background—and utterly out-of-touch with the problems facing most Americans. Reagan’s “trickledown” philosophy didn’t work then, and it won’t now—or ever—save for the rich and self-privileged. 

These are the people who are going to make America “great” again. What does this mean? It means returning America to its past of white supremacy, to the narrative described by Richard Slotkin in his classic study Regeneration Through Violence

But their apparent independence of time and consequence is an illusion; a closely woven chain of time and consequence binds their world to ours. Set the statuesque figures and their piled trophies in motion through space and time, and a more familiar landscape emerges—the whale, buffalo, and bear hunted to the verge of extinction for pleasure in killing and “scalped” for fame and the profit in hides by men like Buffalo Bill; the buffalo meat left to rot, till acres of prairie were covered with heaps of whitened bones then ground for fertilizer; the Indian debased, impoverished, and killed in return for his gifts; the land and its people, its “dark” people especially, economically exploited and wasted; the warfare between man and nature, between race and race, exalted as a kind of heroic ideal; the piles of wrecked and rusted cars, heaped like Tartar pyramids of cracked, weather-browned, rain-rotted skulls, to signify our passage through the land.

We are at a crossroads. In many ways, 2017 is like 2009. We expected “change” in 2009, but what kind of change? It was the kind of “change” that Republicans and the far-right most abhorred and feared: The country rallying behind an at least initially popular Democratic president, fearful of thought that he might actually do important things that only Democrats would get credit for. But then again, the “change” some people were expecting was a cordial, cooperative atmosphere between the parties, and little else. For his part, Barack Obama repeatedly insisted that it was his fervent desire to work with Republicans to do what was best for the country, and he actually believed that this was possible. But Republicans were having none of this; even those who may initially have been swept-up in a brief period of goodwill were forced to contend with the intense of antipathy toward Obama of a—let’s not kid ourselves—racist base that opposed any Obama policy position simply because he was Obama, and black. Just looking at him was enough to drive them over the edge and into the dark side of their psyche. Those of you who wish to can continue to lie to and about yourselves. 

So will the world change overnight? No matter what Trump does in the first 100 days, the only people likely to notice a change (or should expect one soon) are those in danger of losing their health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and businesses that want to operate without the constraints of regulation. What both of these promise is the further widening of the gap between the well-off and not so well-off. This has been happening since Reagan became president and labor rights became something that is “bad,” or least people have been led to believe this is the case. But when you have executives making 9-figure “salaries” that are paid for by people on the other end losing their jobs, well there is something that is just not “right” about that, especially when it is not always clear what those executives do to “earn” such largesse.

So what does the “opposition” to Trump look like? Probably something more impotent than what Obama was forced to deal with. Take for example this threatened  “womxn’s march” on Washington, DC and in scattered locales after Trump’s inauguration. I don’t blame black women participants who want hypocritical white women to stay away; after all, the fact that the white female vote for Hillary Clinton was the precise percentage of that for Obama in 2012 only proves that Clinton’s gender was only a “detail,” that for those who this detail was important were naturally Democratic voters, and was otherwise hardly a factor for the majority of the white female voters; race and ethnic prejudice among white women was likely a more important factor than gender in their voting. It is useful to note that Clinton’s unethical and irresponsible behavior as Secretary of State apparently did have an important impact on the white male vote; the relatively scandal-free Obama administration received 5 percent more of the white male vote in the 2012 election than Clinton did, and this clearly was the difference in Midwestern states that Trump won by narrow margins.

Of course, the other “natural” opposition to Trump, black Americans, didn’t help their cause much over the past year or so with the so-called “Black Lives Matter” movement, the hypocrisy of which is self-evident in the fact that 90 percent of black lives taken are by other blacks who apparently have a different idea of whose lives “matter.” What the BLM movement really “meant” is that blacks don’t like feeling marginalized in white (and increasingly Asian elite) society. Unfortunately white society is constantly being bombarded with images of innocent people—mainly white—being murdered by black men, or in the recent case of a mentally-disabled white man, being tortured and mutilated by a gang of male and female attackers in the name of hatred of Trump. Loud, brash, rude and even violent behavior would naturally turn-down the empathy dial of many white voters in face of these competing images, who instead of being made to feel “guilty,” instead voted for someone they thought could protect them from these social vigilantes.

Hispanics have more reason than anyone to oppose Trump, especially after his deliberate snub of any Hispanic for a position in his cabinet. If he wanted to dispel any notion that his many racist comments about Hispanics in the past were not out of personal prejudice, he could have selected someone, even for a minor position. But he did not do this, and this was because we should take his hate as it is. Hispanics have very little presence in the media despite being 17 percent of the population, so even if they were willing, any anti-Trump commentary will be "token"--especially in the face of the black and white female stranglehold on "victimization."Since he is such a friend of Vladimir Putin, who has used his power to accumulate $85 billion in personal wealth, and engineer the murder of political opponents, maybe we should remember what Abraham Lincoln wrote about those who work on the paranoia and fear of others:

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

What about the “liberal” opposition, the talking heads in and out of the media? Are you talking about the people who were too fearful of speaking the truth because they were afraid they might be implicated as well—especially in regard Trump anti-Hispanic hate talk, which they freely disseminated and rarely confronted? Why didn’t the media beat into the heads of the ignorant what health care was like before “Obamacare”? Why didn’t they tell us that the only “difference” between then and now was that tens of millions couldn’t afford health insurance back then, and now they can? Why haven’t we been told that because of so many uninsured, that health care costs were out-of-control because people could not afford even preventative care? Of course, Trump is someone who is so conceited and narcissistic that he is will ignore or attack the media in any case, even while he takes the country down with him.

The next four years will without doubt be a song-and-dance show, with Trump the master of a three-ring-circus defending the actions of his cadre of unqualified players who only want to destroy the country and “remake” it in their own image, meaning, well, we know what that means. It isn’t the “American” image, but all the “pretty people” and rich and powerful who constitute the only reality that he knows. Those “little people” who voted for him because he fed them hate will be fed little else.

No comments:

Post a Comment