Trump Showed Us That We Are Losing Our Liberties
In a recent article, Geoffrey P. Hunt expressed disillusionment bordering on disgust with former President Donald J. Trump. Basically, he presents a list of failures or areas of neglect that show Trump’s inability to overthrow the “swamp” despite his nonstop criticisms of it. Regarding voting rules, he asks, “Why did he do nothing?” The gist of the article is a list of items where he claims Trump “did nothing.” In essence his list of Trump’s failures can be summed up as Trump’s failure to destroy the Deep State, the swamp, the fake news, and the careers of all those who speak for and profit from those corrupt systems. However, this writer, hoping that Hunt’s article was more a moment of frustration and pique than a serious reflection, would contend that Trump during his term in office had some monumental successes, and that there is no one in public life who could have done better at taking on the horrible excesses of our system that have been developed over the past 100 years, and even more intensely during the past thirty.
1. He built most of the wall on our southern border. In 2006, both parties agreed to build a fence, but the fence was inadequate to prevent immigrants from continuing to flood in, and sufficient funds were not found to add the technology to supplement the weak fence. Trump with his construction experience knew that the problem was not only getting enough technology, but that a structure stronger than a fence needed to be built, so he authorized the wall. Further, asylum seekers who were crossing illegally instead of applying at a Port of Entry had to stay in Mexico to apply for asylum. He pressured Mexico to accept that "deal." He enlisted Mexico’s cooperation by threatening to put tariffs on a host of Mexican products that they exported to the USA.
2. He took us out of the Paris Climate Accords with the expectation of ramping up U.S. coal and gas production. In 1997 the Kyoto Protocols which had similar goals to the Accords were rejected because of opposition by the Senate. But during the intervening years, the Obama administration had managed to sign on. Trump, with characteristic boldness, reversed course. The finger pointing that claimed he thereby was going to be a key player in destroying the world's environment was ridiculous since the USA was only responsible by that time for only 15% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
3. He withdrew the USA from the noxious JCPOA deal with Iran that had been negotiated with Obama and Kerry. That deal would have enriched Iran, increased the likelihood of their having a nuclear bomb within ten years or less, and increased the threat of Middle Eastern and worldwide Islamic terrorism.
4. He caused the price of gas at the pump to decline by supporting energy independence for the USA. He approved drilling in certain Alaskan federal lands that had been barred from gas and oil exploration under previous administrations.
5. He appointed three so-called conservative jurists to the Supreme Court most notably standing by Brett Kavanaugh who was hit with some of the most horrible character assassination ever seen on the public stage. He stood firm and did not withdraw the nomination.
6. North Korea stopped "testing" (really, threatening) missiles near So. Korea and Japan. Test firings were stopped. By being the first U.S. President to meet with a No. Korean head of state, he gave new significance and meaning to the Judeo-Christian ideal for thousands of years of "love your enemies." Sometimes a threat – such as his “fire and fury” threat against No. Korea – can be useful in breaking down barriers and inducing constructive communication.
7. He renegotiated NAFTA and pulled the U.S. out of a SE Asia trade consortium that was hurtful to U.S. manufacturing.
8. Minority employment -- especially black employment -- was the highest it had been in decades.
9.The Standard Deduction on federal income tax for married couples was raised and the corporate tax rate was lowered to 21%. However, the tax reform's effect was that many people who formally itemized on Schedule A took the standard deduction instead.
10. Trump offended and upset the Deep State or "swamp," that ocean of permanent agency officials and military leaders that administer the laws and policies of the USA continually, even as Presidents come and go. They are the leaders of the "administrative state" which has become the fourth -- and unelected -- branch of government.
Federal agencies came into existence during the Progressive Era with the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson. The FDA, the FBI, and the Federal Reserve came into existence. The authority of the Interstate Commerce Commission expanded, and under Wilson the authority of the Sherman Antitrust Act was clarified and expanded by the Clayton Antitrust Act. WWI expanded the role of the federal government in administering businesses in order to promote the war effort.
After 1932, when we faced the crisis of the Great Depression, FDR created a host of agencies to control various sectors of the economy. In a sense the WWI agencies were a kind of "trial run" which showed the feasibility of federal assertions of power regarding the economy. In short, during the 20th century we saw a dramatic shift away from the balance of powers between states and the federal government in favor of the feds.
Although Trump did not get rid of the vast array of federal agencies that now engulf our society with ever-expanding federal regulations, he did call attention to this problem simply by his rhetoric against the Deep State and the Swamp. He hammered home that we are being enslaved even though our self-image is that of a free society where individual initiative and personal integrity are or should be the guiding light demonstrating the ongoing day-by-day reality of liberty. In short, he awakened many of us to the reality that even though we pledge that we are "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all," the liberty part of that statement has taken a severe hit. Our liberties are waning and have been waning for a long time.
11. He promised to increase the contributions of NATO members to our common defense and succeeded in doing so.
12. He called our attention to the monolith that our media had become (“fake news”), and to its leftist orientation -- a far cry from the liberal days of the past that were much less partisan platforms than the major news agencies we have today. In short, he performed the very important function of pounding home a kind of "emperor has no clothes" exposure of realities that many of us had over the years tried to deflect or ignore. He rubbed the media's noses in their sycophantic "false" or distorted reporting, and showed that they were not merely biased, but were often simply lying to the public. With conscious, premeditated deception, the major tv networks and news outlets like the NY Times and the Washington Post were failing to provide two or more sides of public news to the public they claimed to serve.
On its face, this is a remarkable record, one unmatched in recent presidential records, and one for which Trump deserves much more credit than he has been given.
Image: Ines Zgonc