Trump's First Year Reveals a Startling Plan to Reshape America
Opinion by Lefty G
To many who follow politics, 2017 seemed to stretch on forever, like a season in George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones. Donald Trump's first year in office may have been lacking in legislative activity but it featured wall-to-wall scandal, intrigue, and outrage. The President and his administration churned out drama at a rate that made a mockery of the 24-hour news cycle.
Whether he was firing staff, demanding resignations, getting into spats with foreign leaders, or making outrageous statements on Twitter the President kept the country, and much of the world, in a state of shock. For a man with a profound dislike for the mainstream media, he certainly fed them well this year.
Amid all the white noise of this presidency, it is important to take a step back and analyze what the Trump administration has been trying to accomplish. I have identified 4 major pillars of the Trump presidency thus far.
Attack on the Free Press
Trump has waged an all-out war on the mainstream media in the United States, and he hasn't been the least bit subtle about it. Less than a month into this presidency he that the New York Times, CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS were Fake News and the "enemy of the American people."
This was only the beginning of a relentless assault on the credibility and independence of the media which has become one of the hallmarks of this presidency. In addition to lashing out at the media on Twitter, and declaring news to be "Fake" when he doesn't like it, Trump has repeatedly stated that his administration will be "taking a strong look" at libel laws - apparently with the intention of making it easier to sue journalists for negative reporting.
It is not hard to imagine the chilling effect on free and independent journalism in the United States we might see if these reckless attacks continue.
Blowing the Dog Whistle
In his first year as president, Trump has also shown a propensity to use identity politics to score points with his base and has only been slightly more subtle about it than he has been about attacking the media.
Trump has given the benefit of the doubt to white supremacists marching in the streets of Virginia, tried to rebrand the Dreamers as "illegals", introduced a ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations, and recently mused about how the United States should take more immigrants from places like Norway and less from "shithole countries."
Others have seen a more subtle dog-whistle at work in Trump's comments about monuments and black NFL players taking the knee during the playing of the national anthem.
From the perspective of the Trump administration one bright spot of the first year was the passage of major tax reform legislation. This was a major focus for Trump and the GOP and they will be leaning on the tax reform bill heavily during campaigning for the 2018 mid-term elections.
This bill and the emphasis that was placed on it reveal a lot about Trump's goals for his time in office. The bill is a throw-back to Reaganomics, slashing the corporate tax rate with the stated goal of stimulating growth in the economy. Trump seems unconcerned about the future impact the drastic reduction in tax revenue will have on the governments ability to pay for the military, an aging infrastructure on a warming planet, and an aging population in a changing economy.
War on Government
The GOP tax reform bill, which will starve the government of much-needed revenue, also plays into one of Trump's other priorities as president: to wage war on the government itself. Trump campaigned as an outsider and has shown nothing but disdain for tradition, politicians, and government institutions.
Trump placed Scott Pruitt - a man who had sued the Environmental Protection Agency six times - in charge of that very Agency and he has quickly set about working to repeal regulations and strangle the agency from within.
A similar starve-and-strangle strategy is being used to destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from within. This organization is supposed to protect Americans from the banking industry and has been maligned by President Trump. It's new director Mick Mulvaney has requested a budget of $0 for the coming quarter.
Across the board, Trump appointees have been cutting budgets or failing to replace staff vacancies at government departments which Trump is ideologically opposed to.
Make America Mar-a-Lago
So what do all these Trump administration initiatives add up to?
It seems like Trump is trying to shape America into an oligarch's paradise: a corporate dreamland with a neutered government, a frightened media, ultra-low taxes, and minimal regulation - all protected by a high wall and restrictive immigration laws that keep the non-white people from "shithole" countries out.
Mar-a-Lago from sea to shining sea.
It's a fantasy, a dangerous delusion, but one that Trump appears fully committed to pursuing at the expense of the very people who voted for him. I'll be writing more about the "real Trump agenda" in the weeks to come.
Also check back later this week to see Righty V's take on Trump's First Year as President. Suffice it to say he sees things a little differently than I do!
Michael Wolff's now famous look inside the early days of the Trump Administration