The Great Bamboozle Begins

If you read or listened to President Trump’s inaugural address you may have been surprised by what he had to say. At first blush it sounds progressive! He calls for returning power to the people. He says “a nation exists to serve its citizens.” He expresses concern for working people and calls for broadly sharing the wealth.

“For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered — but the jobs left, and the factories closed”

And he pledges to work for the benefit of all of us working stiffs.

“Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families”.

But will this actually guide his administration’s policy? Or is this just empty rhetoric for inaugural day? Given the wrecking crew of reactionaries in Congress and the flock of extremely conservative billionaires in his cabinet, I suspect the latter.

If this speech had been given by a leader we could trust, who had a record of advocating for workers, consumers, or families, we could be encouraged. But it all seems disingenuous coming from a shyster business tycoon. Trump has appointed his daughter and son-in-law to high positions. He refuses to put his assets in a blind trust or to release his tax returns. Trump’s track record of self- promotion, litigation problems, and shady business dealings show little hope for follow through on his high minded statements.

He simply can’t deliver on many of these promises. Most of our problems will not be addressed by rhetoric or executive fiat. Bringing back the lost manufacturing jobs from cheap overseas labor markets isn’t going to happen. The world economy and the multinational companies are not his to command. His call for massive investments in transportation infrastructure will be a tough sell with the budget and tax cutting Republican legislators. He may be opposed on many issues by his own party.

Much of what he said is false and not based in reality. He says we have an “education system flush with cash.” I doubt ANY public or private school officials would agree with that outlandish statement. Our military is not “weak” or underfunded. With national security taking 85% for the federal discretionary budget and spending on the Pentagon consuming more than the next 8 military powers, his statement obviously is false. Jobs are not being “stolen” by foreign countries. American companies deliberately moved those jobs to cheaper labor markets with no environmental standards. Many lost jobs have been killed by automation which is another irreversible trend not within his control. His call to get people off welfare, address crime, and fix the “carnage” in our cities just doesn’t square the facts on these issues.

Also disturbing is what was not said. He emphasizes making America strong, proud, safe, and wealthy. But there is nothing about making us better, healthier, happier, more compassionate, more tolerant or more civil. Nothing was said about the student loan crisis, high medical costs, healthcare, retirement issues, Social Security, or environmental issues. There was a lot of hype about “safety” but not for our water, food, or public health. There was no talk of fixing the broken judicial system that lacks justice for most of us or the broken electoral system that he decried during the campaign.

Then there were the code words and phrases that indicate the racist, xenophobic campaign rhetoric is still on the agenda. Trump calls for essentially a crusade against Islam. He says we will, “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.” Patriotism is uber alles and “the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America.” His statement, “We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement…” is hardly reassuring to many Americans concerned about militarism and excessive use of force by police. The excessive emphasis on national pride, safety, and putting “America first” are hints of fascism.

There are several grains of truth included to make it all sound real. There is a “small group” benefiting from our economy. But they are the half of one percent and not just the politicians in Washington. This includes Trump and his family. He says, “Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.” Unfortunately yes, the impact of this administration, especially with its Supreme Court appointments, will affect all our lives for decades. The negative impact has already begun with his executive orders on the Affordable Care Act.

We should not expect Trump’s character, attitudes, or behavior to change with the new job. As his inaugural address indicates, the great bamboozle has begun. The fix is in. The kleptocrats are in charge. America may become wealthier. But don’t expect any of it to trickle down to “American workers and American families.”