Donald Trump made some big promises during his run at the US presidency. Now, reality is starting to bite, writes Xannon Shirley.
Trump is in a terrible position now that he has won. He is hated by half the population and lost the popular vote. The people who did vote for him were promised that he would make their economic/social/racial dreams come true almost overnight. He promised the working class they would ‘become sick of winning’.
But he can’t deliver on his golden promises, which are now weights tied around his neck. Not for lack of trying, but because his political inexperience has hidden the details of political reality from him. It’s one thing to accurately criticize a broken system and expose its flaws; Trump (like Abbott and the leaders of the UK’s Brexit movement) has been an emotive critic of the status quo and masterfully ridden a wave of public dissatisfaction all the way the power.
But now he is the power. And, as he is already discovering, it’s another task entirely to create and install a better system and prove that it can work.
Lets take a quick glance at just a few areas where his promises contradict each other and/or clash with global reality.
Trump constantly mentioned three aspects of economic reality he wished to address.
- Americans needs more tax cuts.
- The nation has to reduce its national debt (currently sitting around $18 trillion mark).
- Much more of the budget needs to be spent on the US military.
One does not need to be an economist to understand how these assertions contradict each other. A nation cannot reduce its debt by collecting less tax- unless it cuts spending. Trump wants to increase military spending exponentially. The chilling reality is that America already exhausts more than half its national budget on ‘military spending’ ($598.5 billion). Take a look at 2015’s national vs military budget here.
He won’t be able to cut taxes, increase military spending and reverse the national debt.
“Draining the swamp”
Trump cannot ‘drain the swamp’ (rid Washington of the ‘political elite’) because the US is run by politicians who are owned by corporations, and those corporations demand maximum profit regardless of who the president is.
Lobbyists will continue to lobby regardless of whom they are lobbying to. Furthermore the staff he is gathering for his cabinet are already tied to corporate interests – look into Chris Christie’s links to big business for a start.
The only way to drain the swamp of corporate influence would be to get the money out of politics by banning corporate donations from politicians and their parties. Given that the US recently allowed for the creation of Super PACS, which view companies as having a right to hold political opinions, there is little evidence that American government will undergo any such change in the near future. You can read more about Super PACS here.
As government structure currently stands, the swamp is undrainable. Also, many of Trump’s closest advisors are already well-known swamp-creatures.
America has been rather partial to engaging in war in the last 60 years. If Trump increases the size/budget of the military, and has Putin onside, he may want to try out his new toys. He has also expressed the sentiment that the US is somehow entitled to Iraq’s oil. “It’s not stealing, we are reimbursing ourselves” he says.
But this is one area where he may have misread public sentiment; Americans are currently stuck in two never-ending occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the recent involvement in Syria. They are sick of war and aware that ISIS cannot be defeated by invading one country.
America has not defeated an enemy since World War II. For a man that promises only victory, but has no military experience, any such engagement would be a huge gamble. To enter a war and lose badly would surely shatter any image of him being a ‘strongman’ and a tactical genius. A new war would also lead us back to the first issue discussed….
Promises to the worker
Endless war and unchecked military spending is a huge part of how the US national debt got to be several trillion. Much of that debt is owed to China, who can increase interest on the debt it is owed should Trump try to make his trade-war-with-China concept a reality.
Trump’s key promise to the American blue-collar masses was basically the same as Turnbull’s: ‘jobs and growth’. But globalization cannot be stopped by one furious President. China will always be able to make things in factories more cheaply than America. So will India and Brazil and much of Asia.
That is why wages are already so low for middle-Americans, because someone overseas can do their job more cheaply, for less pay. If the red states of the rust belt do not see an increase in opportunity and living standards in the first two years, they will dismiss Trump as a conman who lied to them just to get elected.
He will be rebranded as part of the lying establishment. Then, frustrated, impotent and proven ineffective, he will flee to one of his towers to leave Mike Pence to deal with the fallout.
It will be at this moment that the Democrats will need to put forward Bernie Sanders, or someone like him, to capitalise on the shifting sentiment of the voter. It remains to be seen if the Democratic Party has the vision, integrity and fortitude to do this next time around.
Trump claims he will tear up the Paris agreement and defund the Environmental Protection Agency because he believes ‘climate change is not real’. However he will face immediate and constant global pressure to reconsider this because the rest of the world powers do think climate change is real.
Big business agrees with them too: A Citigroup report released last month found that minimizing temperature rises to 2.7ºF (1.5ºC) could minimize global GDP loss by $50 trillion compared to a rise of 8.1ºF (4.5ºC) in the coming decades.
It will be hard for Trump to demand respect from world leaders if they think of him as utterly dismissive of science. He will also be reducing his own capacity to revive the US economy by ignoring the opportunities presented by climate change (ie. using the struggling workforce to build solar panels, clean cars, wind turbines, solar-charged roads etc).
Backing coal, gas and oil, all whose prices may spike due to an ever-diminishing supply, seems a strange choice for a leader who wants to ‘make American great again’ and guide his nation safely through the future. Given that carbon emissions are enemy number one for our planet, renewable energy must be the future or there is no future at all.
Although racist, rude and emotionally defective, Trump is not entirely foolish. He will do what he can accomplish in his first 100 days to give the impression he can get things done. Deporting illegal immigrants, overturning abortion laws, firing a few people, building something resembling a wall, with a majority in the Senate he can get some of this done.
But that will only buy him time, the core promises, the vital change his supporters hope he represents, he cannot deliver this whilst maintaining his current beliefs.
He was very good at being the critic, but now he is the artist, and nothing short of a masterpiece will deliver him from eternal damnation.
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