★ ★ ★ ★
By Mike Hembury
Shhh, I’m going to tell you a secret.
And the secret is: there are two good things about the Trump presidency.
Ah, wait. Before you go for the torches and pitchforks. I’m only joking. There are no good things about the Trump presidency from a progressive point of view.
From a progressive point of view, it’s a nightmare. A catastrophe. A colossal global train-wreck in the making. The only question being just how big the catastrophe is going to be.
But there are two, shall we say, interesting contradictions, in this whole alt-right, neo-fascist tsunami that’s heading our way.
Number one is this: Trump has successfully smashed the neo-liberal orthodoxy on globalization. No matter that he did it from a right-wing republican perspective. And maybe it’s just rhetoric, and then again, maybe it ain’t. But all those left-wing marches and lamentations didn’t manage to put opposition to globalization where it is now, or at least, going to be soon. Namely, in the White House.
But let’s stay real about this. How much genuine opposition to the unhindered flow of capital can you expect from a billionaire businessman whose financial empire spans the globe and has made a career out of driving down wages and opposing unionization? Well, not much. And how can a policy of throwing token concessions to workers coincide with a virulently anti-worker platform? For an answer to that, just look at Germany in the 1930s—full employment, an extensive program of public works, and labor unions smashed and all the leaders locked up or killed. Prior to 1932, Germany had the biggest organized labor movement in the world. The internal war on labor didn’t stop the Nazis from propagating the myth of being a workers’ party. It took WWII to do that.
Which brings me to the second great contradiction of the forthcoming Trump presidency. And that is, that Trump represents the naked face of fossil fuel capitalism. And perversely, although it is a massive threat to the environment and all future life on earth, it may finally force the environmental movement into a more combative stance. Because up till now, many of us may secretly have been hoping against hope that the Paris Accords will deliver. Even though they were toothless agreements paying lip-service to the idea of limiting warming to 1.5°, with nothing in the way of international lawmaking or sanctions to back that goal up, we still kind of hoped that the environmental tooth fairy would wave her magic wand and make all those backsliding snake-in-the-grass carbon addicts shed their skins and deliver the goods. Well now it’s official. It’s not going to happen. Not for the next four years. Maybe not for the next eight years. And that is enough business as usual to cook the planet beyond repair for the foreseeable future.
But wait. How can Trump be in bed with Big Carbon? Isn’t his great strength supposed to be his independence from other financial interests? Isn’t he just going to take only $1.00 a year for his job as Prez?
Well that’s just bullshit.
Trump owns part of the company that is running the Dakota Access Pipeline (of #noDAPL fame). Trump’s backers include Texas oil baron T. Boone Pickens, and his attitude to carbon extraction is not only Trump Digs Coal, but also a continuation of Sarah Palin’s famous “Drill baby drill” line. In fact, at his speech in Gettysburg at the end of October, he outlined an action plan for the first hundred days of his presidency, including:
- Lifting the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal. (Factor into that the huge new oil reserves just discovered in west Texas).
- Lifting the “Obama-Clinton roadblocks” and allowing energy infrastructure projects like the Keystone Pipeline to move forward.
- Cancelling billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and using “the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure” (sic).
Taken with that his avowed intention of continuing the strategic oil wars in the Middle East, initiated and continued by previous administrations, it’s clear that Trump’s plan is to defend the carbon status quo at all costs, as part of a reactionary rollback to “make America great again”.
Well, making America great again according to this recipe is going to cost everyone the planet. It’s no joke, and it’s no secret.
A bunch of old white businessmen are going to get even richer in the process, and everyone else can pick up the tab.
Like I said, it’s out in the open now. There’s no more phoney Kyoto-to-Paris greenwashing.
Now it’s in your face.
Big Carbon got the president they wanted.
The president that says “fuck you” to the planet.
So I leave you with another secret. An open secret. There’s only one way to deal with this. And that’s to fight it every step of the way.