Donald Trump, the man-child, has finally been inaugurated 45th President of United States. Given everything that led to the moment, it was surprising that Donald Trump, having been sworn in, did not push every on the podium aside, thrust his hands into the air screaming, in the words made famous by Muhammed Ali, “I AM THE GREATEST!!!!!”
Instead, he angrily redelivered the core elements of his campaign speeches, the essence of which was that “American First” is going to be the watchword for our government going forward. Playing fast and loose with many of the facts about the state of the economy and the country, as is his norm, he elevated nationalistic and religious themes to a new extreme.
It all has a familiar and, in some sense, pleasing ring to it. Us first and all that. We heard a variation of that during the Vietnam War era: “my country right or wrong” and “if you don’t like it here, leave.” Despite staggering sacrifices by our military, in a hopeless quest, and the fear of communism and “otherness,” we lost that war. The divisions it created still are alive for many. A gross failure of self-examination, among other things, led to horrific mistakes of policy and actions, causing unnecessary sacrifices for millions and damage to U.S. standing around the world.
Trump’s call for “America First” must surely ring hollow in countries around the world who are tired of hearing about American exceptionalism and that America sees itself as superior to the rest of the world, culturally, politically and otherwise. Trump has made some big promises. He did not mention bringing back coal and steel jobs specifically, talking instead about roads, tunnels and such. But coal is in evidence on the White House website priority list.
Reality will now show its itself as Trump launches his promised attack on the decisions and policies of the past eight years. He remains a minority president by popular vote and the sparse crowd for the inauguration was a stark reminder of that. I know, I know, his infatuants believe that Clinton’s significant popular vote margin was due to illegal voting in California. Sadly for them, there is no evidence of that but, of course, Trump’s true-believers don’t care about the truth, only what fits their narrative.
In any case, Trump’s facile words will soon meet the complexities of real life and we will see how much disruption Americans are willing to tolerate as Trump and as his ideologue Republican sycophants run rough-shod over health care and a multitude of other established benefits and practices on which tens of millions of Americans rely every day.
A case in point is the just posted new White House determination to cancel “harmful and unnecessary policies” governing the nation’s clean water supply. https://www.whitehouse.gov/america-first-energy. You can read here the Climate Plan that has Trump so worked up: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/image/president27sclimateactionplan.pdf. Here you can read the Clean Water Rule that has so offended Trump: http://bit.ly/2iKyyIL. More information is here, at least until it is erased by the incoming administration. https://www.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule.
It appears in these early days that Trump intends to take the United States back in time many decades to the point where employers were permitted to exploit the country’s natural and often irreplaceable resources at will in the interest of making money and, yes, employing people. Of course, many of those people were dying of Black Lung Disease and were killed or maimed in industrial accidents that were preventable. The very people to whom Trump is appealing are going to be the most direct victims of these policies while the rest of us suffer the longer and broader impacts of the degradation of the environment that will inevitably follow. This apparently is the price to be paid for “American First” under Donald Trump. Jingoism never solves anything.