By Peter Bergel
“What is this clown up to? Is he nuts?”
“What a _________ (fill in your favorite epithet)!”
“He’s a narcissistic psychopath.”
Not so fast, fellow progressives! We’ve underestimated this guy a couple of times now. Let’s not do it again. He may be all the things we think he is – racist, xenophobic, narcissistic, homophobic, anti-Muslim, power-mad. At the same time, though, he’s also getting away with a deadly distraction game – one which threatens life on this planet. If you think he’s dumb, think again.
Let’s look behind his attacks on immigration, health care, Muslims, black people, women, the Bill of Rights, gay people and all the rest for a moment to understand what else is going on relatively quietly while we resist all that front page stuff (which, of course, we must do).
Focus for a moment on:
- His Cabinet picks (mostly fossil fuel boosters),
- His denial of climate change,
- His resumption of the DAPL and KXL pipeline projects,
- His reinstatement of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository project,
- His increase in the military budget,
- His threat to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord,
- His order to EPA to ignore climate change and spur employment in the coal industry,
- His retraction of the ban on surface mining of coal,
- His order to make it easier to flare methane from oil and gas operations,
- His stated intention to drill for oil in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge and many other places,
- His return to a Bush-era directive that accounts the cost associated with carbon emissions as zero.
All this adds up to a program to put in place fossil fuel, nuclear power and weapons sales infrastructure that will allow these industries decades to profit from their sunk costs. As these infrastructure investments are made, it becomes enormously more expensive – and therefore difficult – to withdraw from them. Meanwhile, our already-slim chances of avoiding catastrophic climate change impacts, atomic poisoning or nuclear war plummet yet further.
The Agenda We Must Expose and Defeat
This, I am convinced, is the Trump Administration’s main agenda. Trump’s enormously destructive executive orders undermining progress on human rights, civil rights, fairness, and much more are distractions. I think he expects to lose on most of them and does not care all that much if he does. While we are turning out in record numbers to fight – and probably win – these struggles, Trump and his corporate cronies will be making sure that policies and investments favoring the profitability of these otherwise threatened businesses are locked into our future for a long time to come. The assets they commandeer and the consequent transfer of wealth from the lower classes to the super-rich will cripple our ability to create an economy that works for everyone, even as they threaten the livability of our planet.
That is why it is essential that – coupled with our efforts to resist all Trump’s other depredations – we expose this agenda and make it clear that Trump’s fossil fuel and weapons policies are what is really driving his presidency. We are swelling our protests, actions and events of all kinds with people anxious to strike a blow against the DOTUS (Dictator of the United States). We are learning to make common cause in new and exciting ways. We are beginning to see more and more clearly that we are all engaged in a single struggle – to replace domination with cooperation in every area. We are coming to understand that we have to guard each other’s backs. In the confusing midst of all these changes, we must never forget that even though we are witnessing the final roar of the fossil fools, that roar is anything but toothless. Trump’s Tomahawk attack on Syria makes this abundantly clear.
We owe it to ourselves, our descendants and the other inhabitants of this planet to defeat this agenda right along with all the others.Φ
Peter Bergel is a lifelong activist who has worked for peace, nonviolence, civil liberties, civil rights, the environment and in opposition to nuclear power and weapons.