On November 8th, 2016 the world was abruptly taken aback. After one of the most contentious Presidential election seasons in history, it was Republican Donald J. Trump who emerged victorious.
While frontrunner Hillary Clinton had been shaken in the last week by the renewed attention on her private email server, it appeared that she managed to stabilize the ship and was heading toward a respectable electoral college victory.
But it didn’t happen. Clinton lost, Trump won, and the world stood with her mouth agape.
There are plenty of articles out there about why this happened, and I invite you to read all of them—from conservative and liberal perspectives alike.
This article isn’t about what happened during the election. Pointedly, it isn’t about Hillary Clinton. It isn’t about Bernie Sanders. It isn’t about campaign strategies that somehow didn’t involve Wisconsin, or about private email servers. It isn’t about the lesser of evils, or the choice you ultimately made at the ballot-box last November.
It is about the Trump Presidency, and everything that has happened since he donned the title “President-elect.” It is about the here and now. It is about the present that began in the early hours of November 9th.
It is about everything after this moment:
If you listened to Donald Trump’s victory speech on Election Day you might have been optimistic. He thanked his opponent, he promised to bring people together, and once again, he promised to make America great again.
And for a minute, I really, really wanted to believe him.
I grew up in a middle class household. But by the time I left for college, I departed from a lower class household. My father had been stiffed in not only one, but two different careers. I’ll never understand people who trust corporate hegemony over public government. Maybe politicians are self-serving and corrupt—but at least you can vote them out. You can’t vote out the corporate instinct to screw over even the poorest Americans in pursuit of a better bottom line.
It’s the free market that has outsourced jobs; it’s the free market that bet recklessly against our economy and gave us the great recession; it’s the free market, through our health insurance system, that decides who is rich enough to deserve to live—the invisible death panel that quietly operates with none of the outrage that accompanied Sarah Palin’s fictional Obamacare claim in 2010.
Before even being sworn into office, Donald Trump got some acclaim for “helping save jobs”. After talking to United Technologies, the parent company for Carrier, it was announced that they would only send 1150 jobs overseas—instead of the originally planned 2000.
Yet as the President-elect and his supporters were doing victory laps, only a few people seemed to notice what exactly this “deal” had cost. Carrier would receive a wheelbarrow of $7 million from the federal government, and they were still exporting hundreds of jobs to Monterrey, Mexico.
Rather than punishing American corporations that are poised to ship American jobs overseas, then President-elect Trump gave them a gigantic payday for only slightly curtailing their behavior. This wasn’t a life-raft for the middle class, it was yet another kickback to the billionaire class. He sent the message loud and clear: any company who wants to get some sweet government assistance can just threaten to outsource jobs, and Donald Trump will gladly swoop in and bribe them to stay.
Or at least sorta stay.
For a President who promised to drain the swamp, Donald Trump sure seemed to be bringing a lot of murky water to Washington.
His first 17 Cabinet appointees had a higher combined net worth than the bottom 1/3rd of Americans combined. Many of them offered dubious credentials if one were looking for the most qualified nominee—such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; who was incapable of explaining the common debate of proficiency vs. growth in academic testing. Though she had great qualifications if one were instead looking for someone who donated millions to the Republican Party.
His Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is a Wall Street crony who made millions foreclosing on people’s homes during the economic recession; most famously contributing to a banking error that led to a 90-year-old woman having her house foreclosed over 27 cents.
The early signs of a pro-working class Trump surely were not good.
“Give the man a chance!” his supporters cried as everyone else winced over his near-daily tantrums on Twitter.
And so Donald Trump’s chance came. He was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.
He quickly issued a slew of executive orders, including one that rolled back Obama’s protection of public waters from corporate pollution, and one that encourages shortcutting important environmental reviews of various infrastructure projects. And, of course, the most infamous of all: the travel ban.
The demonization of immigrants is nothing new in America. Throughout the mid 1850s, the “No Nothing” movement disparaged German and Italian immigrants who were migrating into the United States at the time. Their hatred of these groups were, in part, fueled by their hatred of Catholicism. Know-Nothings believed that Catholics were inherently an enemy of democracy, and that the Pope was secretly plotting the overthrow of the United States government.
These Catholic immigrants were blamed for an increase in crime and murders. When No-Nothing Levi Boone was elected Mayor of Chicago, he barred immigrants from city jobs.
Their conspiracies seem totally ridiculous, as should the populist fear-mongering about American Moslems today.
Some will pretend the issue of immigration is about the illegality, but really, it is all about socioeconomic class. Nobody on the right fear-mongers about how Melania Trump worked in the United States illegally. Rather, the fear-mongering is all directed at poor, working class immigrants who are desperate to make a living.
After months of internal bickering, Donald Trump and the Republican Party have presented their Obamacare alternative. The American Healthcare Act—or as I prefer to call it, Trumpcare—stands as an absolute disaster for the American working class.
Even critics of Obamacare say that Trumpcare is even worse, and will leave Americans with higher premiums and deductibles while reducing overall coverage.
Trumpcare eliminates the mandate to buy health insurance, which means that healthier people who can get away without insurance will likely let their policies expire. This mass exodus of health individuals will drive up premiums for everyone. Furthermore, Trumpcare slashes tax subsidies given to the working class and redistributes them to the upper-middle class. Under Trumpcare, a 60-year-old making $20,000 a year would get $5,874 less in aid, while a 27-year-old making $75,000 would get $2,000 more.
Trumpcare also phases out the Medicaid expansion. By 2020, if not earlier, enrollment into the expanded Medicaid program will freeze. Within four years, poor people who could’ve gotten health insurance prior to Trumpcare, will no longer have access to.
Republicans like to talk about how their plan expands “access.” And by letting health insurance companies sell shittier plans, they do drive down the price for some healthy people who can tolerate dumpster fire quality plans. However, most Americans need high quality health insurance on an ongoing basis; but if they can’t afford it, they have “access” to health insurance the same way I have access to buy a private yacht. Yeah, I can technically do it. It’s on the market. It’s a choice. But I don’t have a hope in hell of paying for it.
Finally, to add insult to injury, if you are too poor to buy health insurance but then experience a medical emergency that absolutely requires it, health insurance companies are allowed to change you 30% more as a penalty. That means you get punished for being too poor to afford health insurance.
All the penalties and pain of Trumpcare falls on the laps of the poor and working class. All the rewards and goodies are tailor-made for the upper middle class and the rich.
When confronted by the truth that working class voters would do much worse under his plan in an interview with Tucker Carlson, President Trump said, “Oh I know, I know.”
Finally, a look at the President’s budget proposal shows the extent of Donald Trump’s betrayal of working class Americans.
Trump’s budget eliminates federal funding for programs like Meals on Wheels, which provide meals for seniors who are unable to leave their homes.
“To have the federal government take away this money is just an unbelievable situation,” Meals on Wheels Director Chris Baca said.
Trump’s budget also eliminates free lunches for kids, because the federal government doesn’t have “enough evidence” that keeping children fed aids in educational outcomes. The budget also slashes programs that help poor families heat their homes, that give affordable housing assistance, and provide job training.
Trump’s budget is a disaster for the people who supported him the most passionately. Trump’s Presidency is a disaster for anybody who considers themselves a part of the working class.
If you still support Donald Trump at this point, and you’re rich, that makes perfect sense. The rich and upper middle class will do extraordinary well under this reactionary conservative President. If you are poor, or working class, and you still support the President, however, you’re just clueless.
On every issue down the line, since being elected, Donald Trump has been an enemy of the working class. He has engaged in corporate cronyism for huge business conglomerates, he has demonized immigrant workers, he has appointed the richest and least competent Cabinet in history, he has proposed a healthcare plan that would transfer tax credits from the poor working class to the upper classes, and he has proposed a budget that strips funding from programs that the poor need the most.
From this point on, nobody should begrudge anyone who voted for Donald Trump. In this last election everyone made the best choice they could with the information they had. We should, however, begrudge anyone who insists on continuing to walk around with their eyes and ears covered as President Donald J. Trump launches a war on the working class of America.