Any good analysis places a particular event in its historical context. History is a series of unravelling events. So, any particular event must be seen as an outcome of previous events. The question here is: what is to be expected from the Donald Trump presidency?
Not every past event is crucial to a particular event happening. Past events that provide a comprehensive, historical context, which would take into account all available facts and allow a person to draw logical and empirically-verified conclusions from said facts, are the crucial past events. So, what past events are crucial for understanding what the Donald Trump presidency will look like? There are two broad categories to analyze that make-up those “past events”: words and actions. The former had created a great deal of controversy throughout the election cycle. However, words are just that. While some of the expressions that passed through Donald Trump’s mouth were considered by many to be vulgar, discriminatory, vile, etc., it is still possible that it was an act meant to harness the votes of Americans with real grievances. At the same time, it is a very real and frightening danger that there will be an increase in right-wing violence against minorities of race, gender, sexuality, etc. This is an extremely scary proposition; if it happens, it must be confronted by all who hope for a less grotesque world. Anyways, it seems foolish to analyze what the policies of the Trump presidency will be based off the language used during the election cycle.
As the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words”. But, what actions do the so-called “speaking” with regards to the future actions of the Donald Trump presidency? While there is still more than two months before the Trump administration takes office, there nevertheless remains two sets of information that give insight into what will occur in the near future. The political scientist Thomas Ferguson is known for his 1995 book, “Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and The Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems”, in which he provides overwhelming evidence that campaign investments are the primary determinant of policy decisions. Some may argue that Trump is a “radical” break from how the U.S. nation-state is usually run, but this remains to be seen and would represent a monumental exception to how things have operated in Washington, D.C. for at least one-hundred years (Ferguson, 1984). So, one criteria by which to predict the actions of the Trump administration is to analyze his campaign finances.
Trump did receive a fair amount of funding from outside of people or groups directly affiliated with political and economic elites. Will this factor into the decisions the Trump administration makes? It is not possible to definitively say at this point, but historically “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have (had) substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence” (Martin and Gilens, 2014). According to OpenSecrets, Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund, donated $15,510,800, and GH Palmer Associates, a real estate company owned by Geoffrey Palmer, gave $2,005,400. It seems likely that both of these companies will receive compensation for large donations. Another group that has donated to Trump is corporate lobbyists. While the amount they have given is relatively small when compared to the two just mentioned, these individuals may have a large role in Trump’s transition to the presidency. As The Intercept has reported, “Lobbyists do more than just donate to the Trump campaign. Trump’s transition effort is led by lobbyists, meaning lobbyists would play a role in helping to select the personnel and cabinet members of Trump’s administration” (October 18, 2016). So, who are some of these corporate lobbyists? They include
“energy adviser Michael Catanzaro, a lobbyist for Koch Industries and the Walt Disney Company; adviser Eric Ueland, a Senate Republican staffer who previously lobbied for Goldman Sachs; and Transition General Counsel William Palatucci, an attorney in New Jersey whose lobbying firm represents Aetna and Verizon. Rick Holt, Christine Ciccone, Rich Bagger, and Mike Ferguson are among the other corporate lobbyists helping to manage the transition effort…Microsoft’s Ed Ingle and Steve Hart, two lobbyists who, according to filings, have worked to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Other transition meetings have included briefings with the Financial Services Roundtable and the Investment Company Institute, two lobby groups that represent Wall Street interests, as well as with the BGR Group, a lobby firm that represents Saudi Arabia and the South Korean government” (The Intercept, November 8, 2016).
Personnel is another criteria by which to analyze what the future administration may do. Many of the decisions made by presidential administrations is determined by these people (as well as, of course, the interests they represent). Early reports of who will receive high-level positions within the Trump administration include: Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Flynn, Steve Mnuchin, Lew Eisenberg, Jeff Sessions, Reince Priebus, John Bolton, James Woolsey, and Kris Kobach. This list is not exhaustive and only intends to inform others about some of the less known figures, as well as those whom the mainstream media has chronically and wrongfully described as benevolent, that will soon have enormous power. Other names that have been floated are Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan, Steve Bannon, and Chris Christie. Let us not forget that Mike Pence will be Vice President. All five of these figures and their malfeasance and malevolence are well known.
Gingrich, who served for many years as a member of Congress, has consistently been an extreme representative of corporate interests, most notably Lockheed-Martin, one of the largest corporations within the so-called “military-industrial complex” (Chomsky, 1996). That Gingrich will be involved in the Trump administration, or that policies the former Speaker of the House would undoubtedly support, seems likely given that the defense industries’ stocks rose considerably through election night. “The defense stocks surging is a sign that investors believe that Trump will be significantly more supportive of their priorities than he may have let on” (The Intercept, November 9, 2016). Prison corporations, the domestic side of the U.S. State security apparatus, also saw a large boost in stock value (Huffington Post, November 9, 2016).
In fact, stocks, after plunging once it became clear that Trump would win, rose the following day, which indicated that “The conclusion was drawn, at least in the short term, that profit opportunities from Trump’s policies outweighed prospects of uncertainty” (WSWS, November 10, 2016). The following day, November 10th, the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared to a new record high. It seems that “The financial aristocracy is salivating over the prospect of major corporate and income tax cuts, increased military spending, and the scrapping of regulations, especially on banks and finance” (WSWS, November 11, 2016).
Giuliani, as mayor of New York City from 1994 through 2001 “slashed social services, threw women and children off welfare, attacked union rights and spurred an epidemic of police brutality”, was a passionate supporter of the so-called “War on Terror”, and created an “atmosphere of corruption, racism and class hatred” (Socialist Worker, 2007; WSWS, 2002). And what did he receive for this “impressive” job as mayor? He made millions as part of a consulting firm!
Michael Flynn is the ex-head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, an organization responsible for covert espionage domestically and international assassination. He has personal involvement with U.S. bombing and invasion of Syria, rejoicing in the fact that the Obama administration made a “willful decision” to fund and train those that are now referred to as “Islamic extremists” (YouTube). And, unsurprisingly, he is an ardent supporter of the Obama administration’s expansive “drone assassination program”, despite that the majority of those murdered by the U.S. nation-state are not the intended target: ‘The drone campaign right now really is only about killing. When you hear the phrase ‘capture/kill,’ capture is actually a misnomer. In the drone strategy that we have, “capture” is a lower case “c.” We don’t capture people anymore’ (WSWS, 2015). But, then again, why are only the results of the “drone assassination program” debated, as opposed to the legitimacy of the whole campaign itself? Would we accept if another country committed the same actions that the U.S. nation-state has since, at least, 1945 (see William Blum’s Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II for an excellent overview)? If it is not his many years spent as a director of the most expansive military behemoth in the history of civilization, perhaps Trump likes him for his view on national borders. According to Flynn, “U.S. border control efforts have undergone a dramatic metamorphosis in recent years as the United States has attempted to implement practices aimed at stopping migrants long before they reach U.S. shores”. Why this “dramatic metamorphosis”? Perhaps it is as he himself said, the “effects of economic globalization has become a flexible point of contention” (Tom Dispatch).
Steve Mnuchin, a hedge fund manager and former partner at Goldman Sachs, is responsible for the destruction of an uncountable number of lives. The level of social ill caused by his actions as a banker are so extreme that for the sake of time and space, it is best that the reader just look for him or herself: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/05/07/trum-m07.html. Also, in case the reader was worried about how lonely Mnuchin will get if he is involved in the Trump administration, just know that he might well be very good friends with Giuliani, as he donated money to his election campaign – as well as to Democrats! Surprise!
Meanwhile, Lewis Eisenberg has been a senior advisor at a private equity firm, a partner at Goldman Sachs (Another one? N0 WAY!), and a larger contributor to the Romney presidential run of 2012 (WSWS, 2012). He said in an interview that Obama “demonized Wall Street”, despite the fact that the Obama administration gave an extraordinarily large bailout to those same financial institutions that were “demonized” (Huffington Post). As was noted earlier, “actions speak louder than words”.
As for Jeff Sessions, he is a great example of how far to the right Republicans have become and further evidence, if picked by Trump, that the next presidency will be very similar to other Republican administrations (On The Issues). If you want a taste of his ideology, just know that “he called the NAACP and the ACLU ‘un-American’ and ‘Communist-inspired’” (Democracy Now!). This incredibly far-right ideology is not alone among people mentioned as potential appointments to the Trump administration. The RNC chair throughout Trump’s campaign, Reince Priebus, was touted by current Wisconsin governor Scott Walker as someone who played a key role in “leadership and involvement in the grassroots Tea Party movement that swept the state and the nation” (Badger Herald). A movement, it may added, that came from people with legitimate grievances; however, “Tea Partiers” have only plunged America and the world deeper into the hellhole they now find themselves in.
Bolton, a Bush II State Department official and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is nothing short of a sociopathic war monger. Last year, he wrote an article literally titled, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran”. Interestingly, he admits there is no “palpable proof” that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Bolton, certainly intentionally, leaves out any analysis of the geopolitical landscape that encompasses Iran and a mere mention of the critical facts that the U.S. and Israel, the two largest nuclear arsenals in existence, would obliterate Iran in seconds and that Israel has never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. To boot, the Iran deal is supported by a majority of Americans and “many foreign affairs experts and top officials” (Arms Control Center). If that was not enough cause for alarm, Bolton was an avid supporter of the illegal war of aggression and occupation of Iraq as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; which of course, the entire justification for the invasion, and the subsequent occupation, were complete and utter lies (WSWS, March 27, 2015). Finally, as a longtime member of the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative, war mongering think tank, he is out to get the North Korean boogeyman:
“In an interview last year with The New York Times, he was asked about conflicting signals from the administration on North Korea. He strode over to a bookshelf, pulled off a volume and slapped it on the table. It was called ‘The End of North Korea,’ by an American Enterprise Institute colleague. ‘That,’ he said, ‘is our policy.’” (New York Times, September 2, 2003).
A North Korea, if what the political analyst F. William Engdahl reports is true, that exists, because if it “didn’t exist we would have to create it as an excuse to keep the Seventh Fleet in the region” (the quote is, supposedly, from James R. Lilley, “A member, together with his close friend, George H.W. Bush, of the infamous Yale University Skull & Bones secret society, Lilley served some three decades at the CIA along with Bush. Both Lilley and Bush were US Ambassadors to China.”) (William Engdahl, November 1, 2016).
Woolsey, whom Trump made his campaign’s senior advisor on national security issues (thus making it is a distinct possibility that he may be in the impending administration), is a member of the neoconservative, war mongering Project for a New American Century, was in favor of the war of aggression against Iraq, is in favor of ripping up the Iran Nuclear Deal, and has referred to Russia and North Korea as “problem states” (see a pattern, yet?) (Counter Punch, November, 11, 2016). As if it could not get worse, he profits off the wars he pushes for (The Intercept, September 12, 2016)! Part of this profiteering, Genie Energy, is located in the illegally-occupied (by Israel) Golan Heights of Syria, where a major oil reserve was recently discovered. The violent campaign being waged throughout Syria threatens this hotly contested area (Mint Press News, December 1, 2015).
Kobach is the chief architect of voter (“ID”) disenfranchisement laws, in Kansas and throughout the United States, which disproportionately affect minorities (ACLU). He also has ties to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has considered a hate group for many years. Shortly after the election ended, Kobach was named to Trump’s immigration transition team and has since promised that the “border wall” of much discussion during the election cycle will be built (SPLC).
So, what is on the horizon? Step outside and look around. It’s the same shit that’s been here for about forty years. More ecocide (if there is one thing to be sure of, it is that Trump thinks climate change is a hoax and this is substantiated by the fact that numerous climate change denialists are involved with the Trump campaign and transition team), more unemployment, more imprisonment, more corporate plundering, more imperialism, more cuts to social programs, more privatization, more wealth at the top, and less wealth for everyone else. In short, more and more neoliberal empire. After all, the class war never ends under capitalism.
On the power and control of campaign financing:
Ferguson, Thomas. “From Normalcy to New Deal: Industrial Structure, Party Competition, and American Public Policy in the Great Depressions,” International Organization, 38 (1984), 41-94.
Ferguson, Thomas. Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1995.
On Rudolph Giuliani:
On Jeff Sessions:
On Lewis Eisenberg:
On donations to the Trump campaign:
On the Trump transition team, corporate lobbyists, and potential administration appointees:
https://theintercept.com/2016/11/11/trump-cia-torture/; Trump has consistently mentioned bringing torture back and if he selects Rodriguez to head the CIA, then it seems all the more likely.
https://theintercept.com/2016/11/10/donald-trump-ran-on-protecting-social-security-but-transition-team-includes-privatizers/; see https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2005/02/socs-f03.html for an overview of the Bush II administration’s attempt to privatize Social Security
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3215990-DentonsUSElectionInsight2016.html#document/p6/a327799; this is the world’s largest law firm’s “prediction” of the Trump administration officials.
On Michael Flynn:
On Steve Mnuchin:
On Wall Street during election night and since:
On Reince Priebus:
On Newt Gingerich:
“Perhaps the stupidest and most economically illiterate comments came from former House speaker Newt Gingrich, in an interview with the New York Times. ‘The accounts will create the first 100 percent capitalist society in history,’ he claimed. ‘Fifty years from now, relatively poor Americans for the first time will have their own personal savings; they’ll see the power of interest buildup over time and appreciate the importance of property.'”
On U.S. Hegemony:
Blum, William. Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II. Common Courage Press. 2003.
http://blackagendareport.com/anatomy_of_us_imperial_crisis (sobering and realistic picture of where the world finds itself today and in the coming years)
On John Bolton:
On James Woolsey:
On Kris Kobach: