19 Sep

A Trump Presidency Would Likely Be Even Worse Than You Think: 11 Ways He Would Destroy the America We Know

As Trump rises in swing state polls, one wonders: What are voters thinking?

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Do Americans have any idea how unbelievably destructive a Donald Trump presidency can be, when his words become government actions that will affect daily life?

Americans have a habit of badly misjudging presidential candidates, living with awful results and forgetting. Ronald Reagan squandered the Cold War’s peace dividend with tax cuts for the rich and left America deeply in debt. Trump is hawking that same approach with added chaos—high-end tax cuts, more military spending and new trade tariffs, which will trash the economy.  There’s also George W. Bush, whose fantasy of remaking the Middle East launched a war of choice in Iraq, which continues across the region. Trump’s military fantasies include coddling dictators like Syria’s Assad and thugs like Russia’s Putin and asking why isn’t America using nuclear weapons if we have them?

Hillary Clinton keeps reminding audiences what Maya Angelou said—“when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” In that vein, Keith Olbermann’s recent video reels off hundreds of Trump’s vicious attacks, lies, boasts, ego and dark fantasies. “The Republican Party has actually nominated for president an irresponsible, unrealistic, naive, petulant, childish, vindictive, prejudiced, bigoted, racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, fascistic, authoritarian, insensitive, erratic, disturbed, irrational, inhuman individual named Donald John Trump,” he sums up. “This is madness!”

Astoundingly, the latest swing state polls find Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton in Ohio, Florida and Nevada. This goes deeper than saying something dark has arisen in America that is jibing with Trump’s endless slurs and smears, his bull-in-government’s-china shop posturing, and telling people to trust his primal instincts, even as he hints everything is a negotiation. Many Americans who should know better about how civilized society works are saying he can’t be that bad. Or he doesn’t really mean what he says. Or are asking aloud, how much damage can he do?

The answer is a lot. Nobody can know what will happen if Trump is elected. No politician gets everything they promise. But if you compare the differences in the proposals and attitudes put forth by Clinton and Trump, you get a quick sense that this election’s results will affect your daily life in dramatically different ways. Many people don’t appreciate the presidency’s power, even as Congress tries to sabotage it. Others say that American government can withstand demagogues. Do we really want to find out?

Here’s 11 areas where the differences between Clinton and Trump are poised to take the country in starkly different directions.

1. Will there be a revival of American racism against non-whites? There has not been as openly bigoted, racist and pro-white major party presidential candidate in decades. Trump has modeled a catalogue of racist rants and stereotypes and opened the door to a new era of race-based grievance politics. This is not just about immigration, but start there. He wants to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. He wants to build a wall along the Mexican border. He doesn’t want millions of “dreamer” children of the migrants, born here, to have a clear path to citizenship. He wants all Muslims to face extra immigration hurdles and encourages racial profiling. In sharp contrast, Clinton opposes all those stances, and wants the opposite—comprehensive immigration reform and embraces multi-cultural America. Yet Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Tim Pence, have dropped the pretense of dog-whistle politics, where white supremacists mouth neutral-sounding platitudes, like embracing ‘state’s rights,’ code for unequal treatment of minorities. They have coddled a spectrum of white supremacists, from klansman David Duke to Trump national convention delegates to far right-wing radio hosts, all of whom feel white America should not adapt to the nation’s growing multiculturalism. Meanwhile, Clinton’s campaign slogan, reflected in her policies, is “Stronger Together.” Which way will the country go?

2. Will police reform, criminal justice reform, gun control, be totally lost? Copying Richard Nixon’s late 1960s ‘dog whistle’ bid for southern states, Trump has claimed that he represents the “silent majority” who want a “law and order” president, meaning more police, more aggressive policing and tougher courts. In his Republican Convention speech, Trump mocked the Black Lives Matter movement, which seeks police and criminal justice reform and an end to institutional racism. His takeover of the Republican Party led to the Senate this week not acting on criminal justice reform that would have emptied prisons of non-violent offenders, and which was the only big bipartisan initiative in the current Congress. Meanwhile, his pledges to round up and deport millions of migrants would require a massive new federal police state unlike anything modern America has ever seen. Clinton, in contrast, started her campaign with a major speech pledging criminal justice reform and trying to end institutional racism in policing. She favors police wearing body cameras—he doesn’t. She supports restoring ex-felon’s voting rights for ex-felons—he doesn’t. On gun control, she supports more background checks, an assault-weapons ban and federal research on when, where and how gun violence arises in America. He doesn’t. He’s encouraged Second Amendment people to do something about Clinton, and on Friday said her Secret Service protection should “disarm” to see what happens. This is embracing thuggery and violence.

3. Will the use of force abroad grow like the embrace of force at home? The question is when and where would the White House send troops into action overseas, and what other weapons would be used. Clinton is a more traditional hawk than Trump, saying that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go, and that she would work with allies to defeat ISIS. But she also opposes increasing the military budget—which he supports—and has said that she would not send troops to respond to increased extremism abroad. Trump, who has called the American military disorganized and weak, wants to significantly increase Pentagon spending, said dictators like Assad don’t have to be deposed, said he would collaborate with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and has repeatedly asked why we doesn’t use nuclear weapons if we have them. The problem is not that Trump is making Americans uneasy by reminding them of the dangers in a nuclear-armed world, as some of his defenders have argued. It is that Trump is impulsive, thin-skinned, reflexively hits back at critics, and does not know or respect restraint.

4. Will gains made by women be set back decades? Clearly, if Clinton wins, that would be a barrier-breaking milestone leading to many federal policies heeding gender differences. For example, Clinton said that she would try to expand Social Security retiree benefits, starting with those most disadvantaged under the current system: widows and non-white women. And reproductive rights would not be negotiable. Trump, in contrast, has not only revived and embraced the right-wing’s culture war against women—saying that women who get abortions should be punished—he’s unleashed a new tide of misogyny into the culture by disparaging women in the campaign, from mocking opponents’ looks to attacking a debate host’s menstrual cycle. When it comes to policies, he believes women should stay subservient. He only wants to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour, which disproportionately affects women. He’s also deeply anti-union, which also affects women’s wages.

5. Will the economy be trashed by a debt-fed bubble? Trump has boasted that he would create more jobs than anyone, but apart from promising to vastly increase military spending, revive carbon producers (coal mining, offshore drilling, finishing the Keystone XL pipeline) renegotiate trade treaties (which has not been done), and cut business taxes, he’s offered few specifics—including a speech Thursday where he said he’d create 25 million jobs, a figure quickly scoffed at. His campaign website’s “economic vision” is filled with unsupported platitudes, like “Economic output by $700 billion annually over the next 30 years.” Trump’s real business model, seen in his career, is creating massive debt, cashing out, escaping liability through litigation, and not paying creditors what’s fully owed. Last spring, he even said that’s the approach he would take to cut the federal debt—telling China that the U.S. would pay less than what was promised by Treasury Bonds, which financial experts also ridiculed. Clinton, in contrast, has given dozens of speeches where she’s pledged to push the most ambitious domestic economic stimulus in her first 100 days since the New Deal. That traditional “good government” plan, which she said targets overlooked areas in America, would be a massive investment in rebuilding not just roads, bridges and airports, but also a new nationwide energy grid that relies on renewables and extends Internet broadband everywhere.

6. Will climate change be ignored? Trump has infamously said that climate change was a hoax pushed by the Chinese government to get an marketplace advantage because the U.S. would have to tax and reel in industries making them less competitive. He wants to revive the coal industry, even if demand is not there, expand oil and gas offshore drilling, pull out of the Paris climate accord, and build more fossil fuel infrastructure. To do that, he’d suspend federal environmental regulations. Clinton, in contrast, has said climate change is real, supports the Paris accord, opposes offshore drilling and wants solar energy to meet the country’s domestic energy needs with a decade. Creating a new energy infrastructure is not just part of her climate change policies, but key to reviving the country’s economically struggling regions.

7. Will student debt and high tuition remain sky high? Trump has no plan for reducing higher education costs and it is not among his website’s issues and positions. But in a recent speech, he pushed for privatizing traditional K-12 public schools by increasing the federal subsidy for charter schools and tuition vouchers for private schools. He is being sued in federal court for bilking student at Trump University, where enrollees paid tens of thousands and said they got no instruction. Clinton’s plan is a slightly more modest version of what Bernie Sanders proposed in the Democratic primary. Public colleges would be tuition-free for families with incomes under $125,000. She’s also has a debt refinancing plan to lower interest rates and cap loan payments at 10 percent of one’s income.

8. Will health care be recaptured by free-market predators? Trump wants to shrink the government’s role, which he said would increase access to health care and lower consumer costs. That starts with repealing Obamacare, allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines and ending government health benefits for undocumented migrants, his website says. Clinton’s proposals go the exact opposite way and would not put the public at the mercy of the sector’s greedy privateers. She would defend and expand Obamacare, and use federal negotiating clout to cut drug costs and expand coverage of lower-income people under Medicaid. One of her most intriguing ideas is allowing people over age 50 or 55 to buy into Medicare, which she raised in the spring primaries.

9. Will the rich keep getting richer? Trump has modified his tax proposals several times in the campaign, each time shrinking how much he’d cut federal revenues—but the bottom line is still a giant giveaway to the wealthiest Americans. Trump’s proposals would consolidate the current system of seven income tax brackets, throw out the Obamacare surcharge on the wealthiest Americans, and sharply cut corporate tax rates. Reining in Wall Street excess is not part of his agenda; he would repeal the Dodd-Frank reform act. In contrast, Clinton’s plans aim for making wealthier people pay more taxes, including a “fair-share surcharge” for multi-millionaires, and include greater federal regulation of financial markets. Financial analysts say that Trump’s proposals would do what Republicans in Congress have long wanted to shrink federal government, which is greatly reduce revenues while cutting taxes on the wealthy.

10. How far will civil rights be rolled back? Trump’s pledge to round up and deport 11 million migrants lacking visas—and several million of their children born here—would unleash an unprecedented police state that would challenge American civil liberties to the core. But he also opposes same-sex marriage, and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Pence, has pushed some of the most oppressive “religious liberty” laws allowing anti-LGBT discrimination in the nation. While Trump claims to support voting rights, the GOP in state after state have adopted laws, policies and regulations that aim to discourage or complicate voting, especially by non-whites who are presumed to be more pro-Democrat. Trump’s fawning over Russia’s Putin includes his muzzling of the press, which Trump has said he’d like to do domestically—“open up” label laws to sue his critics in the media. To suggest that Trump has any understanding of constitutional principles would be a big mistake, conservatives say.

11. Will right wingers control the Supreme Court for decades? The Supreme Court is one of the biggest issues in the election not getting the coverage it deserves. Whether there is progress or backtracking on every major issue depends on the ideological makeup of the justices, which is why the GOP-led Senate has refused to hold hearings or vote on President Obama’s nomination of the court’s ninth justice. It’s likely the Senate’s partisan majority after the 2016 election will echo whoever wins the White House. Trump has told Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel he will be his nominee. A libertarian, Thiel has some extreme anti-democratic views, such as writing in 2009 that, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,” and saying that women getting the right to vote and the poor getting welfare “have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.”

How Destructive Can A Trump Presidency Be?
For all of Hillary Clinton’s shortcomings, she is not poised to take America on an unpredictable journey into the heart of American darkness like Trump. If more Americans were thinking about what could truly go wrong in their lives if Trump were elected, they might realize that the election was more than a reality TV show where the best entertainer rises to the top.

There have been a spate of recent books about how dark American history was in its first centuries. It wasn’t just filled with slaves, indentured servants, Native American genocide, rule by the gun and no rights for the masses. It was dominated by property owners with land granted by the British crown, who preyed on, pillaged and traumatized anyone who blocked their accumulation of wealth. When the country was founded, the legal system and Constitution protected those property-centered rights, and it has taken nearly 240 years for a more humane system of laws and popular culture to emerge.

Trump is cut from the predatory cloth of an earlier America—where winning, as he always says, is paramount. It’s human nature for people to feel aggrieved or hurt and seek ways out—and Trump has built a career in businesses that pander to escapist tendencies: in real estate, gambling, hotels, beauty pageants, etc. Many voters may not fully believe what he says, or may take his words like they would hear a carnival barker—discounting the hype, or perhaps they feel so stuck in their lives that they’re not thinking and grasping at straws. But, no matter, they’re vastly underestimating the damage a Trump presidency would unleash on society and the planet.

Clinton, in contrast, is siding with those in America who have been on the receiving end of capitalist excess. She doesn’t believe free markets always do a better job. She believes in government’s role as a societal equalizer. How slogan, “stronger together,” embodies lifting of minorities and all shades of people who don’t have inherited wealth or great money, power and influence. She is standing with the traumatized in America, not the traumatizers and the predators. Perhaps she is failing as a candidate to make that clear. Perhaps if more swing state residents understood this, the polls would not be so close. But it seems like people aren’t thinking, or worse, would not mind an America that reverts to a more primal, racist, sexist, violent, unequal and unpredictable era.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).

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The Kubicki

Americans need to wake up to the danger a Trump presidency would inflict on America and the world!!!

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