Donald Trump and American Decline

The Donald: Easy to make fun of ... too easy
Don’t hire him, America

W.J. Astore

Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again.  What does this mean, exactly?

Think about it.  As American workers, how desperate are we to “hire” a man as president whose signature line to wannabe entrepreneurs is, “You’re fired”?  We’re a bit like abused spouses who, despite being bruised and bloodied, still decide to stand by a bully.

Americans sense that our nation is in decline; indeed, that’s the implicit meaning (as noted in this article by Tom Engelhardt) of Trump’s slogan: he wants to make America great again.  As in, we’re not great now, but we have been in the past, and under Trump we will be again.  But how?  Is Trump just going to fire all the “losers” in America?

Many abused workers have placed their faith in Trump to revive America.  Yet the irony is that Trump himself has precipitated America’s decline, what with his tacky casinos, his off-shoring of jobs, his shady business deals that seek to maximize profits while minimizing pay to workers.

So much of our economic health today, such as it is, consists of massive spending tied to a sprawling national security state, which fosters military adventurism and interventionism as well as weapons exports, amplified by casino capitalism (literally “casino,” as in my old hometown, which desperately seeks a casino as a jobs producer).

Back in the day, the city of my birth was proud to manufacture shoes and to ship them around the world.  Now, my city puts it faith in casinos and gambling.  If that’s not a clear sign of economic decline, what is?

Again, consider the irony of placing faith in Trump to reverse this trend.  Nearly 30 years ago, in the song “Gimme What You Got,” Don Henley captured the hollowness of “promoter Trump” with the following lines:

Now it’s take and take and takeover, takeover
It’s all take and never give
All these trumped up towers
They’re just golden showers
Where are people supposed to live?

Trumped up towers – more true today than when Henley penned that song (along with Stan Lynch and John Corey) back in 1988.

How have so many come to place their faith in America’s resurgence in the trumped up BS of Donald Trump?  Again, someone whose signature line as a boorish and preening boss is, “You’re Fired”?

Let’s make America great again.  Come this fall, let’s not hire Donald Trump as our new boss.

19 thoughts on “Donald Trump and American Decline

  1. We got politicians running races on corporate cash
    Now don’t tell me they don’t turn around and kiss them peoples’ ass
    You may call me old-fashioned
    but that don’t fit my picture of a true democracy
    and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free
    — Wasteland of the Free – Iris DeMent

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  2. The problem is that Hillary Clinton is far worse, she voted for the Iraq War showing little competence following the incompetent judgment and lies of Bush43. From all accounts Obamacare as national policy is a fiasco in so many ways. We have two political parties who really are not capable on a national level to provide sound leadership and legislation- witness the Wall Street meltdown and bailout- inadequate legislation allowing their reckless financial transactions.

    Trump is not a politician and speaks like one would in private with a friend about how bad our system has become. We have a choice, proven ineptitude in public office and worse with Hillary Clinton or unproven ineptitude in the public office with someone who has proven his success in the private sector. The fact is the nation is in decline economically and those trillions of dollars U.S. government expended to bailout out Wall Street and printed by the FED to prop up the economy has produced a slow motion national decline, not an economic revival. President Obama has stood on the sidelines lecturing. The American people are now gambling with their politics because democrats and republicans have failed the nation so miserably.

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    1. Henry.

      Excellent. I wonder if Wall Street realizes that under President Clinton-2 the cost for all meeting speakers rises to $220K/hour. Equal pay for equal work.

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    2. Whether in the public sector or in politics, Trump has succeeded best in promoting himself. He simply isn’t a public servant.

      Clinton is deeply compromised and beholden to interests of all sorts. She is especially duplicitous in her refusal to release transcripts of those high-price speeches she gave to Wall Street.

      Trump’s meanness is especially galling. Attacks on Mexicans, Muslims, women, the disabled, together with juvenile name-calling against his opponents — the man is a walking nightmare of prejudices. Playing coyly with White supremacists — really?

      Trump is potential disaster in quick-time, whereas Clinton is certain disaster in slow motion. Which will the American people prefer?

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      1. Yes, Trump could very well turn out to be a great leader, we don’t know for sure, but Clinton II we know is an unworthy leader who has never accomplished anything and brags about what she failed at, so why not give Trump a chance to deliver, many rise to greatness when called upon, why not Trump? After feckless Obama and corrupt Hillary, he is our best chance given how corrupt the system is, this is the choice we are presented with. Take a chance on Trump or surely fail with Hillary, I say, give him a chance.

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    3. “From all accounts…”? Is that the voices in your head again? The only fact is that the world changes and so does every aspect of America. deal with it.

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  3. I think if Trump is ever elected this country will be in for a serious golden shower. Which is maybe what is needed for some serious change and a chance to start this experiment over. It is hard to imagine the U.S. sinking lower but I know it is possible. Everything wrong now has been legislated into existence. The country has been sold down the river for campaign cash.

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  4. While I sympathize with Professor Astore’s anguish at the thought of Donald Trump as President of the United States (not to mention the equally awful prospect of You-Know-Her and Bubba Bill back in the White House) I must question his characterization of Mr Trump, or any other politician, as “our new boss.” I always thought that Americans elected their Presidents as employees or servants of the people. Presidents may “command” the lickspittle, ass-kissing U.S. military — whenever the career military feel like going along with the charade that anyone actually “commands” them — but no President commands the people. To even suggest otherwise seems foolishly dangerous to me.

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    1. Yes. that’s true, Mike. I was riffing on Trump’s old “apprentice” show, where he took delight in firing the “losers” in his midst.

      Nevertheless, the president is many things. The commander-in-chief of the military. The USA’s chief diplomat. Almost kingly (or queenly) in symbolic importance, if not in power. And so on. The president may not be, strictly speaking, our boss, but he does possess enormous power: another reason why Trump is the wrong man for the job.

      To quote “Spiderman”: With great power comes great responsibility. Trump is irresponsible. He can’t even control his own mouth.

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  5. “Make America great again” is a racist dog whistle. When did America stop being great? When it elected a black man as President? When non-white people became a majority? When poorly educated white men were no longer able to compete for good paying jobs in the increasingly technical labor market, where computer skills are required in more and more manufacturing jobs?

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  6. “War and aggression will not be my first instinct. You cannot have a foreign policy without diplomacy.” — Donald Trump

    “If you do not accept that Trump gives us things to think about in assertions such as these, I wonder what you may mean by thinking. Be as surprised and feel as intellectually awkward as you like, but think it through. Tip: Start by detaching thoughts from names and associations. At least in this case it is the song, not the singer.” Patrick L. Smith, Salon.com

    Now, take that statement of Trump’s above and compare it to the diametrically opposed “Washington Consensus” aided, abetted, and perpetrated upon the world for years now by You-Know-Her, her husband Bubba Bill, George “Deputy Dubya” Bush, and Barack Obama: namely, the “shock doctrine” or “disaster capitalism” that constitutes the only form of coercion — America doesn’t do “diplomacy” — that American “elites” will contemplate in the realm of foreign policy.

    I highly recommend Patrick Smith’s entire article, Trump Just Got A Lot Right as it analyzes both Trump’s accurate assessments as well as his ignorant proclamations. Smith further predicts that should You-Know-Her become President, she will “barely survive one term, much less win re-election to a second.” I would go further and say that — given You-Know-Her’s track record of “I urged him to bomb” belligerency — she might become America’s first woman president, but she might also become America’s last president. I have my doubts that the United States — as a constitutional republic — can survive her.

    Finally, it occurs to me that Donald Trump has only been at this “political” thing for about a year and already he seems poised to take over one of America’s two right-wing parties. Someone who can get so far so fast obviously has the ability to learn and grow. Underestimating such a person does not seem a wise course of action to me.

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    1. I’ll say one thing for Trump: He’s willing to say we’ve wasted trillions on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s also made good sense in talking about rebuilding infrastructure.

      The problem is all the craziness that comes out of his mouth: torture, killing terrorists’ families, thinking he can give illegal orders and the troops have to obey them, and of course all the insults against women, the disabled, Muslims, Mexicans …

      The man is a walking nightmare — but Hillary is a waking nightmare. So which nightmare shall we have to endure?

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      1. Taking your three paragraphs above in order, Bill:

        1) Donald Trump has indeed made sense when he acknowledged the waste resulting from America’s serial quagmire debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also makes sense when he speaks of the need to spend money repairing America’s rotting infrastructure. But then he contradicts himself by promising to “rebuild” the already grossly overbuilt U.S. military which consumes the largest portion of all U.S. discretionary spending, resulting — by design, as George Orwell told us — in no available funds for fixing America’s many manifest problems. One simply cannot fix anything in America until the U.S. military gets radically “unbuilt” to at least 40% (if that) of its current size and scope. Trump almost makes a good point and then he reveals that he doesn’t even understand the good point that he has made. Too bad.

        2) Speaking of “craziness” coming out of someone’s mouth, how about this little gem from current U.S. President Barack Obama: “We tortured some folks.” Not crazy at all. Just a rare — and monumentally understated — acknowledgement of the awrul truth. Oh, yes. We most certainly did torture people, do torture people, and will torture people, and when we don’t do it ourselves, we’ll outsource the job to a country like Syria — and then attempt to overthrow the Syrian government that did our torturing for us. We most certainly have killed “terrorists” (not to mention innocent people accused of “terrorism”) and their families. We do it all the time. We even murdered an American citizen and his sixteen-year-old American son (“for not having a responsible father,” as Obama spokesmant Robert Gibbs once glibly said). For gruesome examples of what the U.S. military and CIA will do, I recommend reading Nick Turse’s outstanding book Kill Anything That Moves: the Real Americand War in Vietnam. Then, after you have read it, change the name of the place where we do these horrible things from Vietnam to anywhere in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, etc, etc. Everything we did to the people of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, we have done, do, and will continue doing to Muslim peoples of the middle east and Africa. So, give Donald Trump his due for innocent honesty. The U.S. military, the CIA, and any number of our mercenary dogs-of-war will do anything the U.S. President orders them to do. I’ll believe otherwise when I witness a stream of U.S. generals and admirals resigning in public protest against “illegal” orders from their Commander in Brief. The romantic notion that these people would never do such awful things simply does not survive the slightest acquaintance with the facts. How could anyone survive a twenty-year career in the U.S. miltitary and not know these things utterly. It only took me eighteen months in South Vietnam to learn my lessons about what the U.S. military will and won’t do. As Elmer Gantry said: “When I became a man I put away childish things.”

        3) I would call Donald Trump a “talking” nightmare, as compared to You-Know-Her, the waking, walking one. He hasn’t actually done anything horrible yet. She has. Therein lies the “choice” facing the United States in November.

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