Many people who thought that US president elect Donald Trump was only bluffing and things couldn’t possibly get as bad as he appeared to be during the campaign had a sore post-election awakening because things are actually far worse than expected. Looking at his cabinet nominations, I can’t help but wonder how the white working class who helped Trump win this election feel about their new “anti-establishment” “swamp-draining” representatives. It is a cabinet of horror, let’s see:
- Wilbur Ross (Trade and Commerce): This guy made a fortune by buying ailing companies, running them all the way into the ground and selling off the pieces. He is also known as the “king of bankruptcy” and
belongs to a species of businessman that is commonly referred to as “locust” because like the insect, they come like a pest, eat everything they find, and move on. Clearly a guy that has the common good at heart.
- Andrew Puzder (Labor): A fast food mogul who already positioned himself against the minimum wage and trade unions. Furthermore, he is on record for saying that he considers it “unfair” that companies are obliged to pay their staff for overtime. Well this guy got rich by exploiting the very same people who heaved Trump into power. Well done!
- Steven Mnuchin (Finance): Yet another anti-establishment guy who has earned his renown for being a down-to-earth guy of the common man. Unfortunately, his role as executive at one of the most evil companies on the planet (Goldman Sachs) has so far prevented him from showing his true good nature but now that he is in charge of the finance ministry, he will surely have the opportunity to show what he’s made of. One more slap in the face of the little guy who lost his house/job/livelihood in the financial crisis of 2008/9.
- Tom Price (Health): a super rich surgeon who will make it his number one priority to reverse Obamacare, probably the one good thing that has happened to the lower middle class in the US for a very long time.
- Rex Tillerson (State): Yes, the current CEO of ExxonMobil, another one of the top 10 evil companies and global warming causers/deniers, a close buddy to Putin, is now the top US diplomat. What can possibly go wrong? Apparently climate scientists in the US are already backing up all their data on European servers as they are worried about the new anti-science Trump government1.
- Scott Pruitt (EPA): While not a cabinet member, his nomination as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is noteworthy as he is on record for saying things like: the science of climate change is “far from settled” (see my post on climate change consensus), or how about: if climate “sceptics” can be prosecuted for fraud, so can “alarmists”. Really?! 99.999% of climate scientists are thus ‘alarmists’, so let’s prosecute them for fraud and lock them all up because they are such an inconvenience for the new head honcho and his military-oil-billionaire buddy cabinet. Trump even requested from the US Dept. of Energy to provide the names of all staff that had been working on climate change issues2. They refused. Good for them. But intimidation is one of the tools of the demagogue and the first step toward an authoritarian regime. Many fear that this will only be a taste of what is to come.
Apart from this already illustrious line-up of horror, we have 5 militars (one with the confidence-inducing nickname “mad dog”) in high ranking government positions (CIA, Pentagon, Homeland Security, Interior, & Senior advisor). If this was a country in South America, we would probably call this government a military junta. There haven’t been this many militars in a US government since the time of George Washington.
I am not sure if there was ever an election in the recent past where a newly elected government was so clearly opposed to the interests of the very people that elected them and made no attempt in concealing it. Whoever thought that voting Trump would get them an anti-establishment government that he would “drain the Washington swamp”, well look at those names and think again. The combined wealth of the appointed government is US$ 14 billion, 50 times more than the already well-to-do cabinet of George W. Bush, and many of them got their posts because they donated money to Trump’s campaign.
Well it looks like it’s time to brush the dust off some of the old books. While Marx and Engels predicted that:
“First, large corporations will drive out small and medium sized businesses and concentrate their reign over the markets in very few hands.” – Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels
Lenin took this one step further and predicted that
“Those corporations will penetrate the state and eventually fuse with it.” – Vladimir Lenin
Corporations would become so large, that the result is some sort of financial oligarchy or conglomerate in which the government’s role is reduced to provide the social and legal framework within which these giant corporations can operate most effectively and thus profitably.
While I am no Marxist or Leninist, these predictions seem to be spot on because what we are witnessing right now is nothing other than a huge merger of the US military-industrial-financial complex with the US government. One could of course argue that this merger between big business and government was already under way for quite some time, albeit on a less obvious level, but now it is really out in the open, for everyone to see. One detail the Marxists got wrong though: it is not the bourgeoisie that will bring about its own undoing, it is the votes of the working class that have brought about the rise of these new fascists à la Trump, Erdogan, and Putin, who quite openly mislead and exploit their own electorate and whose clientele policies are diametrically opposed to their electorate’s core interests. Don’t get me wrong, Clinton would not have cared any more for the lower middle class than Trump, or be any less involved with large corporations, however, with her we would at least not have had to deal with a climate-change denying, short tempered, ignorant, and vane caricature of a president, a political clown and conman at the helm of the most powerful country on the planet. And to make matters worse, despite these cabinet nominations, Trump’s popularity ratings appear to have sharply increased since the election. One cannot help but wonder whether democracy is really still the best system out there. This world is truly going to the dogs!