Will Donald Trump Be A Presidential Man Of The People or Remain A Narcissistic Demagogue?
Will Donald Trump Become a Presidential Man of the People or Continue as a Narcissistic Demagogue?
Now that Donald Trump has won the election and is our President-elect , what can and should we expect of him? Does he even have an idea about these expectations? I, like most progressive Democrats, was horrified at his victory on election night.
Trump's rhetoric has been very moderated and somewhat conciliatory compared to his campaign utterances since his election. This gives me some glimmer of hope that he will not become the extreme reactionary leader he portrayed on the campaign stump.
On the other hand, he has named Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor for his new administration. Bannon is a Far Right conservative who has total disdain for government and its leaders. Furthermore he has often echoed racist and anti-Semitic views.
Donald Trump's pronouncements have been very confusing. Many of his policies are ultra-conservative but certainly not all. He has called for extensive infrastructure investment and the defeating of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. Both of these are liberal cornerstones.
He has also called for large tax cuts especially for the wealthy. The elimination or gutting of the Dodd-Frank banking regulations and the Affordable Healthcare Act are also hallmarks of his campaign promises. These proposed policies are very conservative and in sharp juxtaposition to his more moderate policies.
The bottom line is that Trump campaigned on very conservative policies especially rhetorically compared to his more moderate ones. His rhetoric flourishes on the campaign trail were extraordinary examples of demagoguery but privately he has been much more moderate and conciliatory.
My goal in writing this Hub is to break down the areas that we need to scrutinize in determining Trump's direction. This includes examining his words and actions during this transition and beyond. These will determine if he remains the narcissistic demagogue of his campaign or pivots into a more moderate President for all Americans.
There are three areas that I will examine and point out as places to search for clues to the true direction and nature of the new Trump Administration. The first will be his initial political appointees. These should bring into focus for us Trump's economic, social, and foreign policy directions. Secondly, I will examine his first political policy announcements and initiatives to see if he will be appeasing his anarchic base or attempting to bring all sides together.
Then I will point out areas to watch in regards to Trump's business and personal realm. The purpose of doing this is to see if Donald is willing to sacrifice the control and potential enrichment of his businesses for the sake of the country. The potential for conflicts of interest and possible foreign influence on our government are incredibly powerful. His failure to divest or isolate himself from Trump Inc. could be a disaster for our nation. Finally, I will give my analysis of all of these observations and what I am searching for and expecting.
I have already mentioned the appointment of Steve Bannon. He represents the clear embodiment of Donald Trump's hateful campaign rhetoric against most minority groups including Hispanics, Muslims, and African Americans. Hopefully this selection is simply a piece of red meat being served up to Trump's base. Unfortunately Bannon is now his top policy adviser and will have his ear on a daily basis.
President-elect Trump also picked Republican party chairman Reince Priebus as his Chief of Staff. I am certainly no fan of Priebus but he is strictly an establishment Republican technician who will be more concerned with advancing GOP election prospects than tearing down our government and nation. He will also have the ear of the President on a daily basis.
These two appointments show the political tightrope that Trump is walking. He needs to feed his base while actually having to do things that actually help the majority of Americans. His cabinet appointments will help to flesh out his true policy leanings. At least we hope so.
Currently Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and John Bolton are the front runners for Secretary of State. These three candidates show the conflict between satisfying the base and governing for the entire nation that Trump faces. Romney is a true moderate though his areas of expertise have always been within domestic policy. The same is true for Giuliani though he is more hard line. Bolton is a true neoconservative who distrusts most of the world's nations and would prefer to gut the United Nations.
Trump's selection for Secretary of Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, is a mainstream Republican cabinet choice. His Goldman Sachs background is shared by both Democratic and Republican Treasury Secretaries. Unfortunately he was also involved in the creation of the complicated derivative instruments which helped to sink the markets and our economy in 2008.
He also has a controversial background as the person who bought the mortgage lender IndyMac with very favorable conditions from the FDIC. They later admitted to failing to follow foreclosure regulations after this bail out. This unfairly put many families out on the streets without due process while also enriching the company's coffers.
Donald Trump's nominee for Attorney General is Senator Jeff Sessions. All of the fears of Democrats and moderate Republicans are encapsulated with this pick. Sessions is extremely anti-immigrant and has worked avidly in the past to water down the Voting Rights Act.
He was turned down to be a Federal District Court Judge in 1986 during the conservative Ronald Reagan administration due to many past racist remarks. Donald Trump ran a very caustic campaign that used immigrants, Muslims, and minorities as whipping boys to stir up his base. Now he has nominated a man who has quietly espoused these points for years and now has the power to hurt these groups in a real way. This scares me greatly.
Trump's nominees are a mixed bag with several qualified candidates. But his extreme and most important selections such as Bannon and Sessions send shivers up my spine and should do so for all Americans who believe in fairness and justice for all.
Donald Trump's pronouncements and hints at his immediate policy initiatives have been similarly worrisome to me but not in their totality. His tax cutting ideas, especially for the wealthy, are extremely troubling for those like myself who are frightened about the already expanding wealth gap in our country.
On the other hand, he has proposed infrastructure investment of around one billion dollars. This would robustly stimulate the economy. Unfortunately these two policies implemented together would explode our national budget deficit.
He has been soft pedaling or ignoring his promise to build a wall along the Mexican border since the election. The Republican Congress have made initial plans to draw up legislation for it regardless of Trump's intentions.
The TPP trade agreement will be strongly opposed by the Trump Administration though the GOP establishment is all for it. Democrats are very much in agreement with Trump on this issue though I am not.
Donald Trump always emphasized that he would repeal and replace the Affordable Healthcare Act. He has not emphasized this policy stance at all since the election. He has continued to state that he would keep the parts of this law that he feels are positive. How doing this while gutting the rest of it is very much in doubt. Trump also appears to be embracing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's long held plans to turn Medicare and Medicaid into state block grant plans which could easily be the death knell for these programs.
The increasing mutual closeness of Trump with Russian President Vladimir Putin is extremely troubling. This could have very negative effects on our foreign policy and could destroy the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Putin is a former KGB head which has made him a master manipulator. He appears to be now working this magic on Trump and very successfully.
Now I would like to turn to the business and personal life of Donald Trump which must be constantly monitored for conflicts of interest. Mr. Trump has proven to have always obsessed with protecting his businesses which he connects intrinsically with his personal reputation. I did not expect this predilection to change but I did not expect it to raise its ugly head so early and so blatantly.
The new Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. hosted over one hundred foreign diplomats the week after Donald Trump's election. They fell over each other to curry favor with he and his organization. No one in Trump's transition team saw any hint of a conflict of interest with this event. The Trump organization is also seeking a large federal tax abatement for this hotel which will now be negotiated with the government which he will now be at the head of.
Trump's daughter Ivanka displayed a new bracelet of hers during a 60 Minutes piece about Donald and his family in a not so subtle way. It was on sale promptly the next day on her brand's website. The monetization of the new Donald Trump presidency seems to be moving in full force already.
Furthermore he met with Indian real estate partners days after his election. They claimed that they were simply meeting to congratulate Donald on his victory. Many have raised eyebrows to this meeting and their claims. Reports also surfaced that Trump pressed the Argentinian President to authorize a real estate venture of his during a congratulatory call.
It certainly is appearing that Trump Incorporated will be operating as they have before. This means that a "Blind Trust" of his business interests seems uncertain at best. Therefore his presidency and his business interests will almost certainly be influenced by each other.
I readily admit that I am highly wary of Donald Trump and his intentions from day one of his transition. This will not change any time soon if ever. But it is important to give him a chance to disprove my skepticism while also keeping a close eye on all of his actions.
We are in uncharted political territory. Never before have we elected a complete businessman with no political background and a shady ethical past. His rhetoric on the campaign trail was abominable but his political prescriptions have been more moderated but with no real details.
The early days of President-Elect Trump's transition have served up to me many more red flags than positive signs. His selection of Steve Bannon as his chief policy adviser and Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney general are frightening to me. Any Voting Rights or Civil Rights violations will be completely ignored by Sessions.
Rep. Tom Price of Georgia was just nominated to be Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). He and Vice President-elect Mike Pence are totally in concert with Speaker Paul Ryan in repealing the Affordable Health Care Act. Ryan has also long wanted to turn Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veterans Administration into block grants to states to issue their users vouchers to obtain benefits. They are also strong proponents of turning Social Security into a system of savings accounts for their recipients. These goals will quickly water down these programs and eventually render them useless. We must be very vocal in opposing these moves which would leave our most vulnerable totally helpless.
Other selections such as Elaine Chao to head the Transportation department and possibly Mitt Romney, Senator Bob Corker, or former General David Petraeus for Secretary of State are much more promising. Unfortunately nominations such as these are much more fewer than the alarming ones.
The conflict of interest problems that Donald Trump is going to have are extremely alarming. He has announced that he will turn over control of his businesses to his children but this is not a true wall between himself and his businesses.
I liken this situation to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. He became Prime Minister in 1994 already under a vast cloud of ethical and criminal problems derived from his owning and running the largest media company in Italy. In an interview before he assumed office, Berlusconi admitted that he ran for office in part to avoid bankruptcy and criminal charges.
He also said he would divest himself of control of his businesses but never did. His three terms were rife with scandals of all sorts. Berlusconi was only convicted of tax invasion in 2012 but other charges hovered around him throughout his time in office. His terms as Prime Minister saved his businesses and greatly aided in their growth.
Do we really want four years of President Donald Trump with these types of constant ethical and legal problems? Besides he is constantly stating his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Do we want a bully and political strongman for the next four years?
Apparently half of the country did but we must be very vigilant that Trump does not water down our civil rights, enrich himself illegally, and allow foreign countries to have undue influence on our government. The early signs are not very good. Will he water down NATO and become closer to Putin? Will he be selling goodies to foreign businessmen and government leaders to enrich Trump Inc.? Will the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts be totally gutted?
I will be closely watching and I will be ready to oppose him strongly if he acts against our interests and only for his. I sincerely hope all of us will do the same. The threat of tyranny is truly possible with this man. Stay vigilant, vocal, and active. We have never seen a President such as this. Buckle up. This will be a bumpy ride.