America: A Year End Accounting

America: A Year End Accounting

By Irene Rasmussen, Newport, Oregon

 

As the year ends, it is a time for a serious review of what has happened to our country in the first year of the Trump presidency.

Many voters, exasperated with gridlock in Washington, took a chance on Trump. His promises were big and bold and seemed to challenge “establishment” assumptions. He supposedly “gave voice” to their anger. They talked themselves into giving him a chance. Was their faith merited? Not at all.

From his first attack on Judge Curiel to the pardon of Joe Arpaio, to his appointment of totally unqualified people to lifetime tenures as federal judges, to his misguided “Muslim bans” Trump has attacked the independence and integrity of the judiciary, the rule of law, and the constitution itself at every turn.

Trump said he would appoint “the best people.” From Betsy Devos, to Ben Carson to Rick Perry to Scott Pruitt, he has appointed singularly unqualified people who are more dedicated to destroying their departments than to running them in the way they were intended –for the good of the people. Where Trump has not filled his administration with swamp monsters, he has left it an empty shell, with key posts, especially in the state department, unfilled. He has brought us to the nuclear brink with North Korea, but we don’t have an ambassador to South Korea.

From his initial characterization of Mexicans as “rapists,” to his incredibly misogynistic attacks on women, to his embrace of white supremacist neo-fascist demonstrators at Charlottesville, to his endorsement of pedophilic Roy Moore in Alabama, he has consistently played to the ugliest, most divisive currents in American society.

From his disrespect of the CIA in his first days, to his constant attacks on the integrity and competence of American intelligence services, to his current attacks on Mueller and his investigation of Russian election interference he has severely undermined the credibility of vital American institutions both at home and abroad.  

His regressive de-regulatory policy has done irreparable harm to the interests of ordinary Americans. He has gutted the agency that returned some $11 billion that banks fraudulently stole from Americans during the mortgage crises of 2008. He has weakened rules on environmental quality and other consumer protections.

He has turned America into an international laughing stock. A top German diplomat recently announced that Germany no longer considers America a super power. Trump’s outrageous re-tweeting of fascist, fake anti-Muslim videos has made him person non-grata in the UK. The recent decision on Jerusalem made a mockery of 70 years of US policy calling for peace with a two-state solution. From an international approval rating of 48% under Obama, we have dropped to 30% under Trump. That was before his profoundly racist “sh—hole comments.

His single major legislative “achievement” was his tax plan. By most independent assessments it is one of the worst pieces of legislation to ever be signed into law. The Trump/GOP tax plan will kick 13 million low income Americans off of healthcare. Within a few short years (when the temporary tax cuts for real people expire, but the corporate tax cuts really take hold) the top 1% will get 83% of the benefit. Trump has already boasted about how he helped his rich friends get richer.

Meanwhile, 41 million Americans live in poverty, the opioid epidemic rages on. Stock market gains are great for the 50% who owns stock, but the rest still struggle with stagnant wage growth.  The US ranks 36th in the world in terms of access to clean food and water. Over 30% of Puerto Rican Americans are still without power months after the devastating hurricane destroyed their homes.

Draining the swamp, tax cuts for the “middle class,” replacing Obamacare with something bigger and better? Give me a break. The time for wishful thinking is over. Trump is a disaster. We have had a year to watch him in action.

Now the government is shut down over his outrageous behavior.

Progressives should stop being astonished at every new lie or outrageous tweet; we know who and what Trump is. He is a con man. At the same time Trump’s supporters should be honest too: there will be no pivot, no stability, no sudden hitherto undiscovered deal making skill or magical bipartisan compromise. You backed the wrong horse. That’s that.

The only thing that can save America now is a blue wave in 2018.