Trump’s Declares War on the Ruling Class

Trump’s Declares War on the Ruling Class

donald-trump

Donald Trump is now the president of the United States and it is already clear that this is the beginning of a new era in American and international politics. It is, as political scientists like to say, a paradigm change. Untangling where exactly the paradigm change lies may not seem possible only a couple of days after Trump assumed power, but the new president is nothing if not clear as to what he would like to do. Whether he would be able to do it is another question that would have to wait for an answer, but his intentions are clear. The most memorable line in his short inaugural address puts his main disagreement with the way things as follows: “For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have born the cost” and then proceeded to tell the nation that he will put an end to it. This is nothing if not a declaration of war on the status quo and the ruling class of America. For those that do not know America, this may sound confusing and even irrational, but it is anything but irrational to the millions that have felt disenfranchised and abandoned by Washington and voted for Trump en masse. Perhaps nothing explains the degree of estrangement between ordinary Americans and government elites better than the result of the 2016 elections in Washington D.C. There Hillary Clinton won 92.8% of the vote vs 4.1% for Trump. Washington is a city where virtually everybody works for the federal or city governments, where few ever lose their jobs and where economic crises simply do not exist, while to the rest of the country the government seems ever bigger, more intrusive and oblivious to their concerns. No wonder, such results are more typical of authoritarian regimes than of a democratic polity.

 

On a different level, the clash between Clinton and Trump is not only between the Left and the Right, but more importantly, between traditional Jacksonian populism and the multicultural cosmopolitism of the contemporary American elites, with immigration, homosexuals, religion and gun rights being the central points of contention. The fact that the Jacksonians won convincingly has huge repercussions for the future of American and international politics. Hillary’s nearly 3 million votes advantage in the popular vote means nothing in this respect, when one considers that she carried California by more than 4 million votes – a state so far left that it is no longer relevant to national politics.

 

The Trump victory despite much opposition among many establishment republicans of the “Never Trump” movement, also consolidated the GOP steady gains since Obama’s coming to power in 2008. These gains that have been so massive that they now have brought about an existential crisis in the Democrat Party. As of January 2017, the republicans control 69 of 99 state legislatures, 33 governorships, have total control (both chambers) in 25 states and partial control of another 20, while the democrats control only 5 states. Worse is to come. In the 2018 elections, ten democratic senators will run in states dominated by Trump and republican hegemony at the state level guarantees control of gerrymandering after the 2020 census. Moreover, republican gains have come as a result of systemic electoral shifts to the democrats’ detriment that would be very difficult to reverse in the near future.

 

That massive, perhaps radical change in America’s domestic policies is just around the corner cannot be doubted, though it is too early yet to measure its magnitude. What’s not early to discuss is some of the more controversial positions taken by Trump in the campaign, particularly as they relate to the interests of Eastern Europe. None have been more controversial and troubling than Trump’s ostensible desire to strike a deal with Putin. On several recent occasions Trump has spoken of his desire for better relations with Russia and hinted that he may be in favor of a deal in which America would lift the sanctions on Russia in return for reducing nuclear armaments. None of these make much if any sense and it is highly unlikely that they will happen. There are several compelling reasons for that. The main one has to do with the relationship between Trump and the Republican party. While the two are pretty much of one mind in matters of domestic and economic policy, this is not the case with respect to policies vis a vis Russia.

 

The vast majority of republican politicians in both the House and the Senate consider Putin a thug and an international outlaw and would oppose any Trump policy to treat him as anything but an enemy of the United States.  It is also the case that Trump has a limited ability to act unilaterally, for instance, in lifting sanctions. According to American law, he has the ability to lift only those sanctions that were imposed by President Obama’s executive order. Other sanctions, such as the Magnitsky Act etc. that were imposed by an act of Congress, could only be lifted by Congress. And there is no chance that the current republican majority would consider that. On the contrary, to the extent that there is an area in which congressional republicans and democrats are united, it  is in their disdain for Putin. It is more likely to have more sanctions imposed by Congress than lifting the existing ones. Trump knows that very well and he will not endanger his relationship with the GOP for Putin.

 

This is also the case with many of his appointees to key positions in his administration, such Gen. Mattis at the Pentagon, Gen. Kelly at Homeland Security, Mike Pompeo at the CIA and others, who hold strong anti-Putin views, as revealed by their Congressional testimonies.  Even the designated secretary-of-state, Rex Tillerson, touted as a Putin friend by the media, is anything but pro-Russian as his confirmation hearings testify. He has argued forcibly that Russia’s actions are against American interests, that the occupation of Crimea and the Donbas is illegal, as are Russian military activities in Aleppo, and that Moscow respects neither human rights nor the rule of law. Neither Hillary Clinton nor John Kerry have ever condemned Russian behavior so clearly as secretaries of state. The bottom line is that for Trump, a conflict with the republicans in Congress is the fastest way to a failed presidency, which is why it will not happen.

 

By Alex Alexiev

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