For weeks after the US presidential election, some observers urged caution, arguing that the new president, despite having campaigned on an ultra-right policy platform, might decide to “bring Americans together” by appointing some so-called “moderates” to his cabinet.
Those naive hopes were dashed by subsequent events, and by the first actions of the new administration. Instead of putting together a cabinet of mixed outlooks, Trump has put “a fox in charge of every chicken coop in Washington,” as one speaker at the Jan. 21 Women’s March pointed out. Trump has nominated a die-hard billionaire enemy of public schools as Education Secretary, a former ExxonMobil CEO as secretary of state, a Wall Street profiteer as Treasury Secretary, a private health care advocate to head the Department of Health, ad nauseum. His new regime is determined to roll back every achievement won through decades of hard struggles by the working class, racialized communities, women, environmentalists, civil rights and equality movements, and others.
The new president’s views on the global situation are also ominous. Nobody was surprised that Trump and his big energy pals would move quickly to push for higher carbon emissions. But for some, Trump’s call to renegotiate NAFTA and scrap the FTT, and his seemingly anti-NATO views, indicated that he might be open to “fair trade” and reduced military tensions. Instead, he has issued loud warnings that the world must dance to the tune of Yankee imperialism, or face dire consequences. There will be no “renegotiation” of NAFTA, simply orders to change trade policies for the benefit of US-based corporations. NATO will not be dismantled, but Washington’s European imperialist allies must pay a larger share of the alliance’s costs.
As Bob Dylan warned in a different time period, “a hard rain’s gonna fall.” This is no time for illusions.