Are you having post-election buyer’s remorse? There are many reasons people did not cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton. Some people, including myself, generally lean Green-Left, but we actually found several of Trump’s policy positions put forth during the election to be more appealing. Mrs. Clinton is a staunch defender of the status quo (hardly a leftist perspective). She primarily ran against Trump’s flagrantly flawed character. Whenever she got any sort of a lead in the polls, she lunged to the right. These numerous ideological differences may have encouraged many well-intended voters to vote for Jill Stein, the Libertarian, not vote at all, or even support Trump. Now that we know about his major appointments and have witnessed several pronouncements via Twitter and elsewhere, let’s revisit those issues where Trump provided more hope than Clinton.
Before getting started, please note that this dreary review is not meant to be snarky about those who did not vote for Hillary. I have a lot of sympathy for alienated voters, non-voters, reluctant Trump voters, and Trump supporters who may already have doubts. The political system is rigged to favor the rich.
I erroneously voted for Nader in 2000 instead of Gore and did not want to make the same mistake again, so I reluctantly voted for her. Trump appears unstable and is congenitally dishonest. He launched his Presidential campaign by promoting the odious, racist Big Lie that President Obama had been born outside the United States. His casual, misleading retraction revealed his complete contempt for facts. Thus, I never took seriously any of his campaign positions. I hoped he was lying about the most awful ones, such as the nonexistence of climate change. Overall, the good stuff is being discarded while the worst stuff is metastasizing on the table.
Massive nuclear war
Trump claimed he would work with Russia, while Hillary supported NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe, a policy her husband began. She might have shot down Russian planes in Syria by the end of next month. But Trump merely switched “official enemies.” We are now supposed to hate China more than Russia. A 2016 update of Orwell’s 1984. Given Trump’s inherent volatility, the risk of massive nuclear war appears greater than under Clinton. Trump’s proposal to re-escalate the nuclear arms race is frightening.
No second Cold War
Clinton appeared to want another Cold War with Russia. The only thing worse than a Cold War is a Hot War. Now, we probably will have Cold War II with China. Hardly an improvement. Neither Party seems interested in peace.
Trump claims he will not revisit Obama’s greatest foreign policy accomplishment, the deal with Iran. But who would more likely invade Iran? There are a lot of aggressive people in the Trump Cabinet, while there would have been different members of the War Party in the Clinton Cabinet. Neither leader would do much for the Palestinians. Once again, Trump’s bellicose personality suggests he is a greater threat to world peace. But don’t forget that Obama has bombed seven countries and probably sent special forces in many more, while Hillary has always been inclined to use violence.
Just as I am not a fan of unregulated markets, I oppose unconditioned trade and open borders. Trump stopped TPP, while Obama would probably have pushed it through Congress as Secretary Hillary feigned disapproval. However, Trump’s plan to impose a huge tariff on Chinese goods suggests that his trade policy will be part of his (hopefully only) Cold War against China. Jobs probably will continue to flow to most other countries. Already, the increased value in the dollar makes it less attractive to manufacture products in the United States.
The Democrats were going to serve their corporate masters; Clinton advocated, “open borders” and Schumer said it was one of the first things they were going to do after their hoped-for victory. I doubt if it will be all that different under Trump. There may or may not be a wall, but the wealthy want illegal and legal immigration to reduce labor costs, increase labor competition, and weaken unions. You can be sure no employers of illegals will face legal sanctions.
Drain the swamp
Trump attacked not just the Clintons’ corrupt behavior but also the appalling ethics of the Beltway. He frequently mocked his Republican opponents for their subservience to people like him. However, his appointments of political hucksters and leaders from Goldman Sachs indicate business as usual or worse. His personal conflicts of interest are astounding, rivaling or exceeding the Clintons’ grubbing for money while she was Secretary of State. So far, it does not look like there will even be “an appearance of propriety.” It would be real progress if Trump, unlike Obama, indicts a few corporate criminals. Given the appointments, what are the odds? Perhaps a bit better than under Clinton.
Trump talked about taming the Federal Reserve Board, the institution that primarily implements “socialism for the rich” while Congress maintains “capitalism for the poor.” But will there even be a real audit of that secretive institution dominated by private bankers? The Goldman appointments indicate “No.”
Trump claimed he was so wealthy that the elite would not capture him. True, they will have more than usual trouble controlling his outbursts, but he won’t resist their giving money to his family and creating immediate financial opportunities for his businesses. It will be interesting to see how much his family’s wealth has increased by the end of his Presidency. I am sure he is envious of Putin’s billions.
There was a possibility that Trump would have created a substantial infrastructure program. But Republican opposition in Congress may prevail. Do you think he cares? Our best hope may be that one of his children enters the construction business. Either way, any decent Trump proposals will probably share the same fate as any reasonable Clinton initiatives.
Trump once supported “single payer,” the cheapest, best solution to providing national care. But his cabinet appointments indicate millions of Americans’ health and finances will soon rapidly deteriorate.
Trump asserted he would enable the working and middle class to have better jobs. Clinton only wanted to tinker. While talking about reducing student loan debt, she failed to mention that her husband received millions to promote a for-profit educational institution that extracted millions from the desperately underemployed. Given Trump’s appointments, it looks like the average person will have to wait at least four more years before they have a President who actually cares about them.
The President-elect has been quite good on LGBT rights. Peter Thiel spoke at the RNC. Trump said the Supreme Court should not revisit the gay marriage decision. This position is the remaining glimmer of decency, similar to Clinton’s support. There was a passing hope that Trump could convince his base to let go of this stupid, divisive issue. But Senator Cruz is proposing an Orwellian Bill that will undermine vital First Amendment rights (along with many other constitutional rights) by permitting business owners to discriminate against gays for “moral reasons.” It will be OK to keep African-Americans out of your public restaurant if their patronage violates your “religious liberty.” Will Trump speak out against this divisive, dangerous bill? Will he veto it? Will he closely vet Supreme Court nominees to prevent legalized gay bashing and racism? With Hillary, we wouldn’t need to ask these questions.
Helping poor minorities
“What have you got to lose?” While the Democratic Party elite has not made a serious effort to ease the plight of the urban poor for decades, it looks like every average person will lose a lot over the next four years: the ACA, workers’ rights, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schools, HUD, public services, and on and on and on.
A lot of people, including myself, disliked and distrusted Hillary Clinton. When Trump won, those who despised Clinton might have been temporarily pleased, thinking, “At least that lying, greedy, militaristic Hillary and her corrupt, sexually predatory husband will not regain power.” Yeah, but Trump’s a lying, greedy, sexually predatory Wildman who may be inclined to replace our beloved republic with an authoritarian or Fascist State.
The bad stuff
We haven’t even considered all the bad things he said he would do that he will do and all the bad things he will do that we haven’t heard about yet. Nor all the venomous, greedy, and cruel legislation that Clinton might have vetoed.
It already looks like it was a grave mistake not to vote for Clinton. I certainly would already be second-guessing that tempting decision. If you did not support Hillary, don’t feel too guilty. It is never shameful to vote your conscience, and there are more powerful ways to move society in a more humane direction than periodically casting a vote. We must organize, developing community-based institutions that provide companionship and direction. To paraphrase Joe Hill, “Don’t mourn the election, organize!”
The Left always tends to finger point and sub-divide. If we are going to deal with looming catastrophic environmental problems, terrorism, religious fanatics, class and racial divisions, and the threat of war (including nukes), we need a much bigger tent, extending deep into the Republican Party’s current base. Then anti-democratic garbage like voter suppression, the filibuster, gerrymandering, and the Electoral College won’t matter. It will not be easy to get there. Even this brief essay pointed its finger (and we know which one) at both Clintons.
But there may be some good effects resulting from this rapid deflation of fragile, desperate hope. If Trump had made an effort to extend his political support by helping most people instead of doubling on austerity economics (socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor), he might have created a much broader base, enabling him to fulfill many other, even more odious and dangerous aspirations that may lurk within.