Our parents always taught us that actions speak louder than words.
Now that Trump has secured his position to the most powerful seat in the world, and has finally begun to act, we’re beginning to see the true color of his character come through.
Throughout his yearlong, poisonous campaign, he promised a retaliation against the neoliberal billionaires that traditionally corrupt Washington’s politics, and opened the floodgate to a wave of racism that’s been seething beneath America’s surface since time immemorial. Under his campaign, and now his future Presidency, instances of hate crimes, Islamophobia, and xenophobia have risen astronomically.
Trump has busied himself the past few weeks appointing his Cabinet Officials. From his appointees, who will assist him in making his most important decisions, we can deduce the following: that he has turned his back on cleaning up corporate corruption, but is driving forward full-speed with his promised policies of racism and ignorance.
Despite the alarming developments, an astonishing number of intelligent people, with regards to Trump, tell me to “not worry about it.”
Many throw at me a litany of reasons to not be worried about Trump’s forthcoming Presidency (“he used to be a New York liberal, he doesn’t have any values, he’s just a performer trying to please his audience”).
Most often, people rehash at me Trump’s unsurprisingly foggy message of “bringing America together again.”
Yet actions speak louder than words- so our parents told us. So instead of listening to Trump’s vainglorious sloganeering (after all, he’s nothing but a showman) we’d be better off taking a look at his current Cabinet appointees:
Steve Bannon, future White House Chief Strategist. Former CEO of Breitbart News, Bannon has been a key player in the rise of the “Alt-Right”: a white nationalist movement that, amongst other crimes, espouses anti-feminism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and the reinstatement of racial hierarchy in society. Through his ideologically conservative publication (which officially endorsed Trump during the campaign), Bannon has created a platform that gives an unprecedented voice to Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists in American society.
Scott Pruitt, future Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A noted Climate Change denialist, the former Oklahoma Attorney General was specifically assigned to lead the branch of government that should be at the forefront of combatting Climate Change. (Global Warming is now universally recognized by scientists, the vast majority of whom believe it to be an imminent threat to the survival of humanity). Pruitt’s strategic appointment is a part of Trump’s larger scheme to dismantle the EPA (after all, Trump has said that Global Warming was a Chinese hoax and has vowed to reverse the Paris Accords).
(Prominent within the team Trump assigned to deconstruct the EPA is former lawyer David Schnare, who for the past decade has waged a vicious intimidation campaign against climate-change scientists, filing lawsuits against them and bombarding them with malicious threats. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Schnare, who has ties with the fossil fuel industry, has sought to “chill their (scientists) speech and discourage them from tackling contentious topics.” Gretchen Goldman, the leader of the organization, has said that Schare “does the dirty work that fossil fuel companies don’t want to associate themselves with, including harassing and attacking scientists.”)
Jeff Sessions, future Attorney General. The former Junior Senator from Alabama has a revealing track record. He has fought against legislation proposed by John McCain that would’ve prohibited torturing, has criticized the National Endowment for Humanities (a non-ideological entity) because it distributed books related to Islam, and has worked to prevent the recognition and funding of Gay-rights organizations throughout Alabama Public Universities. Under the Trump administration, he will become the most powerful lawyer within the United States government.
Mike Pompeo, future Director of the C.I.A. Former Kansas representative, Pompeo will be one of the most fiercely partisan leaders in the history of the spy organization, which, according to the New York Times, “is supposed to operate above politics and avoid a direct role in policy making.” Pompeo has gained notoriety for harshly conservative views, including his criticism of closing down “Black-Site” torture prisons in 2009. Unsurprisingly, has has close ties to the Koch brothers, conservative billionaire lobbyists whose company Koch Industries has given $357,000 dollars to Pompeo since he was first elected to office. He has also suggested that whistleblower Edward Snowden should be extradited to the United States and executed.
Michael T. Flynn, future National Security Advisor, and rampant anti-Islamist. Flynn has been noted, like Trump, for his Islamophobic views, once declaring that Shariah is on the rise in the United States (it is not). In February 2016, he wrote on Twitter that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL” (caps his own), has suggested that the United States is engaged in a World War with Islamist militants, and that to fight these militants we team up with (the authoritarian) Vladimir Putin. An affinity for Putin is natural for him, however- he has spoken on behalf of the Russian state-funded propaganda outlet, Russia Today, and has sat next to the man himself at a dinner in Moscow (he has also suggested that we should stop worrying about Putin’s killings of journalists). He believes that Islam itself is the problem, not extremist ideologues, and has decried the Muslim faith as nothing but a political ideology that’s metastasized into a “malignant cancer.”
Gary Cohn, the expected directer of the National Economic Council… and former chairman of Goldman Sachs*. Throughout his campaign, Trump’s supporters proudly gushed that the billionaire would squash the corporate takeover that’s infiltrated Washington. His appointee for the N.E.C., however, reveals a different story. Cohn was the longtime second-in-command for the vast corporation, which was largely accused of criminally profiting off the 2007-8 economic explosion. This appointment comes fast on the heels of the appointment to Treasury of Secretary of Steve Mnuchin, who was a former parter with Goldman. And even as Trump promised to “bring back lost jobs,” Cohn has been candid about policies of neoliberal globalization, which have been responsible for uprooting and deporting countless U.S. jobs in the first place.
*It may be worth pointing out that, as of Trump’s election, Goldman Sachs’ stocks have risen %33.
In June 2015 I watched on the news as Trump first announced his plans to build a wall along the Mexican border. People laughed at him: social media caught afire with anti-Trump memes, and late-night TV hosts had in the billionaire an outrageous new subject to make fun of.
When I suggested to people that he might actually win, that there was a deep reservoir of xenophobic fear in America he could tap into, people blew off my concerns with casual indifference. “He can’t win,” they would tell me lightheartedly. “He’s an idiot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Even my dad once ventured to suggest, jokingly, that he wanted to donate money to Trump’s campaign because “one of these days his stupid statements will end up burying him into the ground.” No matter how hard I implored, people couldn’t get their heads around the fact that Trump was more dangerous than we thought.
That was before Trump got elected.
“Many people deflate concerns about Trump by decrying him as nothing more than a showman. But in conservatism, the showman has found his ultimate niche… And after playing the conservative garnered him such immense power, I don’t believe the showman will stop playing his newfound part.”
Now, once again, people are trying to blow off Trump’s danger. Perhaps we’re afraid of what will come in the next four years, and have drifted into the world of wishful thinking. Or perhaps we Americans are subject to cultural amnesia, incapable of recognizing and repenting for our past mistakes (see Native Americans, Imperialism).
Trump has promised, in both murky and flexible terms, to “Make America Great Again.” Many people, including those who previously feared him, have tried to come to terms with his election by saying that “he won’t do anything.”
But with both houses of Congress voted in as Republican, and a cabal of borderline extremists lined up for his Cabinet, the danger facing both America and the world has never been higher. It’s four more years of George Bush, only this time on conservative steroids.
Many people deflate concerns about Trump by decrying him as nothing more than a showman. But in conservatism, the showman has found his ultimate niche. It was said that Trump became a billionaire out of a psychopathic greed for attention, and when that wasn’t enough, he became a reality TV star. When TV celebrity lost its glamour (and when his show plummeted in the ratings) the only higher achievement would be to get elected as President. By acting the part of the vicious conservative, peddling out widespread xenophobia and fear, the attention-hungry showman did just that. And after playing the conservative garnered him such immense power, I don’t believe the showman will stop playing his newfound part.
You can call him “a New York Liberal,” or “a harmless businessman” as much as you want. Take a good long look at his Cabinet appointees. Take a look at the vicious, anti-American policies that they have espoused and promised to put forth for the next four years. Take a look at the arrogant indifference to climate change and the proudly Islamophobic and the openly authoritarian tendencies present within all of them.
These are the men who, alongside Trump, will be leading the Western World for the next four years.
We underestimated Trump one time, much to our detriment. I can only pray that we don’t underestimate him again.