Trump’s false hope and empty politics
President Trump works for President Trump and no-one else. Capisce?
I feel for the people who have, in desperation, turned to Trump in the face of decades of hard knocks. People who have battled to stay in employment, who in difficult economic circumstances have managed to feed, house and clothe their family, and get their kids into college.
It’s not easy in an economic system that is built on their hard work, yet doesn’t reward them fairly.
But Trump offered them hope. He offered them jobs, he offered them a better life, he offered them any damn thing he thought would get him a cross next to his name at the ballot box.
And it worked…for him (so far). But is it working for the people who voted for him? Is he really on their side?
Why is it my business?
I’m not American, I’m British. I’m watching and reading about the changing political landscape in the US with detached horror — like a car crash you can’t take your eyes off — and a familiar sense of dread. Dread because I know the UK will be dealing with similar problems in the not too distant future.
It’s a favourite thesis of mine that wherever America treads, the UK will be right behind it.
All the signs are there already. The UK is on the same path.
Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson, Brexit, isolationism, alt-right, Steve Bannon lurking about like some kind of dark knight, media bashing, screeching fake news at everything people don’t agree with and generally making a total bloody mess of everything (how that for optimism? Maybe I need to buy what Trump is selling)
So I guess you could say I’m watching carefully, trying to deconstruct what is going on and figuring out a way to avoid disappearing into the same black hole.
The problem with Trump as a saviour of the middle class
To really think about Trump as a person and a president, I always think about the US economy.
Whilst the US is still a mixed economy (the government controls some goods and services) it is the closest to a free market economy of any country in the Western world. Think healthcare and education — in the UK these basic services are overwhelmingly in the hands of the government, but in the US much of the delivery is in the hands of private organisations.
It all comes down to money. And the free market economy allows those with money power. Power to buy consumer goods and services, to buy advantage in education, careers and housing. Power to influence elections, economic and social policy and, in turn, reinforce the advantages that have given them this power.
Here is where we turn to Trump. He is one of the elite, the .01%. Is he a billionnaire? Who the hell knows. But he is certainly very, very rich.
At heart Trump is a neoliberal, a capitalist, a silver spooned trust baby who thinks his wealth is because he’s smarter, cannier and better than everyone else.
I think it’s fair to say public service and working for the public good isn’t in Trump’s nature. His rapacious business deals, his property speculation, the Trump University debacle, his bankruptcies all point to a man working for his own benefit, and no-one elses.
The self-described stable genius believes he’s well off because of his own hard work, skills and knowledge. He genuinely believes he’s the smartest guy in the room.
Whatever his true wealth, he believes he deserves it. Ergo, whatever your situation in life, well, you deserve it (or, more accurately, you don’t deserve better):
- The limited access to healthcare, good education and healthy housing — you don’t deserve it.
- Sufficient income to provide at least a basic quality of life for you and your family — you don’t deserve it.
- A long, healthy life, access to fresh, affordable food. You don’t deserve it.
- A safe environment to bring up your children. A police service that doesn’t shoot you. You don’t deserve it.
But the tax breaks I hear your cry?
Let’s be clear, Trump is no progressive. These tax breaks benefit him and his more than his base.
Yet the voters who attend his rallies, drink up Fox News, screech fake news at any opinion that differs from their own, don’t seem to understand this isn’t benefiting them. Even though they have a little more in their pay packet every month, they’re actually even further away from their aspirations.
If you’re a low or middle income earner, the amount you get in your pay packet every month is smaller than the amount someone in a higher income bracket gets. Lets say you have $100 a month more, your manager will have $200, the Director will have $400 and the CEO? Well he’s on cloud nine.
The upshot is, that house you’re saving for has moved further out of your reach because the people better off than you can offer more money (remember the tax cut has given them more additional income than those who earn less), and save their deposit even more quickly. When you come to buy it, you’ll find it costs more so need to save more.
That school you want to send your kid to? Now it’s oversubscribed and they’re putting up their prices in response to demand. The people earning more can afford to pay the higher prices without it hurting them too much financially (remember they have increased their income by more).
Those goal posts just keep on moving.
Trump has form for breaking promises
Lets look at Trump university shall we?
He over promised, took honest people to the cleaners and refused to clean up his mess. He eventually settled the legal case, but only when he absolutely had to. This man doesn’t right wrongs.
He built up people’s hope and stole their futures.
Even though he’s clearly shady, voters are still supporting him.
Well, who else is promising to solve all their problems? Who else is offering easy solutions and pandering to their greatest fears like immigration?
I don’t agree with these fears, I believe this is scare-mongering. But I also believe in walking in people’s shoes before judging them and I can understand how fearful they are of losing their jobs.
Especially when, in a free market economy, losing work can quickly equal losing a home. Without a decent welfare system to protect you the consequences of losing work can be stark.
With no-one else offering them a taste of ‘winning’, his most fervent supporters won’t wake up until he’s stolen the future he promised them.
And he will. After all, they don’t deserve any better.