If you haven’t heard,
Donald Trump’s Steve Bannon’s ideological obsession that is so far guiding Donald Trump’s presidency* is basically the radical idea that federal government administration + regulation is somehow a cancer on our society. This ideological obsession is idiotic, and it shows how far an obsession with abstract concepts detached from human reality can take someone.
Let’s be frank, too, this is not even typical Republican “conservatism.” However, it’s similar enough that Republicans in Congress will likely overlook the dramatic differences in order to satisfy their current political party gods**.
The first problem with
Trump’s Bannon’s idea that federal government administration and regulation is a bad thing is that it is broadly cast across practically all matters like a giant, smelly, sweaty blanket. It doesn’t distinguish EPA regulations that protect our air and water from self-driving car regulations, banking regulations, food & drug regulations, etc.
Of course, the other problem is that it’s just idiotic.
We have EPA regulations limiting the type and amount of pollution that power plants, industries, cars, and other things can emit based on scientific findings and the desire to not die young. This is something that ideologically driven Peter Thiel apparently misses with his dreams of living till the age of 200.
Trump Bannon has appointed someone to head the EPA who for years sued the EPA on behalf of the oil & gas industry. Scott Pruitt let oil & gas companies write the freakin’ letters he sent as attorney general of Oklahoma. Do you think this is going to help the American people? Can anyone genuinely convince themselves that this extremist, ideologically driven decision is going to have a net-positive effect on human Americans?
The result of putting an oil & gas guy in charge of the EPA to essentially castrate the agency is not a brilliant, genius move. What it means is that the EPA will let oil & gas companies, coal companies, and industry pollute more. What that means is that more Americans will get cancer, more Americans will get heart disease, more Americans will die young, more American kids will get asthma, more American babies will be born prematurely, and more American babies and kids will die before they are old enough to tell you that grabbing women by the p**** and forcibly kissing them is not nice, is not moral, and not even legal.
No, there is no heroic genius in letting polluting industries kill us. No, simplistic, off-the-rails ideology does not make more sense than straightforward science and citizen protection.
Yes, it is the government’s job to protect its citizens from corporate abuse. It is not the government’s job to put polluters in charge of regulating pollution.
The EPA is just one of the obvious cases where letting giant corporations do whatever they want is an idiotic way to run the government. It is just one of the obvious cases where
Trump’s Bannon’s ideological fascination doesn’t make sense in the real world of human life.
Another case is with Wall Street. Despite all of Trump’s hype on the campaign trail (indicating then that he’d crack down hard on Wall Street), he’s doing the bidding of Wall Street to an absurd degree. First of all, let’s go back to the campaign trail, where Trump made this comment:
“I know Wall Street. I know the people on Wall Street…. I’m not going to let Wall Street get away with murder. Wall Street has caused tremendous problems for us.”
As it turns out, one of Trump’s first actions as president was to roll back regulations put on the banks in response to the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and Great Recession, regulations put in place to try to prevent us from getting to such a crappy economic situation again.
Trump Bannon is dismantling Dodd-Frank anti-corruption and economic-protection regulations. This is not good. This is idiotic … if you actually care about helping the United States as a whole (not just a few billionaires and their friends).
“Trump mocked Hillary Clinton for giving private speeches to Goldman Sachs, and then appointed Steve Mnuchin, a longtime executive at that notorious investment bank as his Treasury secretary,” Andrew O’Hehir adds.
Jumping to the Department of Education, O’Hehir adds: “Trump appointed Betsy DeVos, an investor in for-profit educational schemes, to run the nation’s public schools she has been eager to defund.”
There’s also a push to essentially let drug companies test their drugs on Americans en masse — as guinea pigs — through relaxed Food & Drug Administration regulations that don’t require drugs go through clinical trials before being sold to the public.
And the list goes on and on.
The obvious thing that I hope anyone reading this understands is that these regulations were all put in place for a reason. By and large, federal government regulations — whether to keep our air clean, keep Wall Street from gambling with our economy, keep our drugs safe (sort of), or provide workers with basic rights — were put in place to protect Americans. By and large, these regulations are on the books in order to protect Americans from large corporations, and the agencies in charge of enforcing them are supposed to do just that.
“In practice, this is a war on a century’s worth of work to keep our air and water clean; our food, drugs and workplaces safe; the rights of employees protected; and the marketplace fair and unrigged. It’s one thing to make regulations more efficient and no more intrusive than necessary. It’s another to say that all the structures of democratic government designed to protect our citizens from the abuses of concentrated private power should be swept away.
“It’s a very strange moment. Trump and Bannon are happy to expand the reach of the state when it comes to policing, immigration enforcement, executive-branch meddling in the work of investigative agencies, and the browbeating of individual companies that offend the president in one way or another. The parts of government they want to dismantle are those that stand on the side of citizens against powerful interests.”
The reason Trump’s “drain the swamp” rhetoric is even more hypocritical and disgusting than many of his other hypocritical statements isn’t just that he isn’t at all draining the swamp. It’s that he has let major corporations skip the middlemen — the people who’s job it was to convince politicians to loosen regulations — and has simply been putting Big Industry in charge of the governmental bodies that were supposed to keep Big Industry in check, the agencies that were supposed to protect the American people from Big Industry.
E.J. Dionne writes:
“In his CPAC presentation, Bannon accused Trump’s foes of being ‘corporatist.’ But, in the truest sense of the word, the real corporatists are in the White House.”
Trump’s Bannon’s aim to “deconstruct” (read: destroy) federal regulatory agencies isn’t something that just came out of the blue, mind you. It has been his aim for years. But information-lacking and misled voters are going to find out one way or another why this is idiotic and why electing Trump/Bannon was idiotic. Well, actually, many of them will die soon enough that they might not find this out, and if they continue to glue their eyes to “Fox News,” they may have a hard time coming out of their brainwashed trance and discovering how badly reduced regulations hurt them, but you get my point — many people will discover that cancer sucks, will discover that Wall Street is happy to lead us to economic collapse again (as long as the government will, of course, bail out the execs and let them keep sucking away taxpayer money), and will discover that letting corporations squeeze them to the bone in other ways isn’t super fun.
“We have seen a real swamp Cabinet if there ever was one. … Wherever you go, there’s this amazing lineup. The worst, swampiest part of the regulated area being put in charge” of the regulatory agency itself.
If some of Trump’s voters did indeed realize that letting corporations run the United States was a bad thing, hopefully they will realize soon enough that they got conned by Donald Trump (“Don the Con”) — who also lied about spending almost all his time in the White House (he’s seldom there), not golfing (he apparently already went golfing 6 times in one month as president), relinquishing control of his business (which he hasn’t done, despite the absurd and seemingly unconstitutional conflicts of interest), repealing and replacing Obamacare (before he suddenly discovered — probably honestly — that health care is complicated and millions of Americans who now have it because of Obamacare will be mightily pissed if he and Republicans in Congress take it away), etc., etc.
The “most inept, disorganized, sloppy, incompetent president in recent memory” would be so absurd if I saw the character in a movie that I’d probably turn the movie off for being too unrealistic. But, indeed, our federal government is now headed by people who think their job is to destroy much of the federal government (while putting even more money into our bloated military), who think their job is to let corporations write the regulations that are supposed to protect Americans from corporations, and who think the independent press is “the enemy of the American people.”
That last bit is so absurd that even former Republican President George W. Bush has gotten up and highlighted how undemocratic it is. Indeed, the phrase and ideology were so corrupt and despicable that they were “too toxic even for Nikita Khrushchev.”
*Remember, Trump doesn’t do details, and he’s spending a lot of time just watching TV and golfing.
**Be honest with yourself, Republicans today often treat supporting their colleagues without any independent thought/opinion as more important than Biblical teachings — even when their colleagues are sexual predators who chase money like it’s morality, cheat on their wives and then divorce them, bully anyone who disagrees with them, kill their own constituents through unregulated pollution, and steal from the middle class and poor to give to the rich.
Top image via brad_bechtel (some rights reserved), Obama vs Trump cartoon via Dan Wasserman & Boston Globe, Don the Con via DonkeyHotey (some rights reserved), President Bannon via Don Irvine (some rights reserved)
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