Trump’s Anti-Government

Trump’s not shy about his cabinet choices

W.J. Astore

Donald Trump’s cabinet choices form an anti-government of sorts.  A climate change skeptic as head of the EPA who’s involved in suing the EPA.  A head of the Energy department who previously said he wanted to eliminate that department.  A head of Education who’s a fervid proponent of charter schools and further privatization.  A head of housing and urban development with no background in government and no apparent sympathy for the poor.  A head of Labor who’s a fast-food mogul, an opponent of a higher minimum wage, and a proponent of robots replacing humans because the former don’t get sick or need health care or strike for higher pay.  And, let’s not forget, a gaggle of retired generals in civilian security positions at the Pentagon and within the White House.

You have to hand it to Trump and the Republicans: when they select cabinet members, they’re not trying to triangulate; they’re not trying to reach out to the Democrats or rule in a bipartisan fashion.  Their attitude is “We won — and we’re taking no prisoners.”

Remember how newly elected President Obama triangulated in 2008? He kept on Republican Bob Gates as Secretary of Defense.  He selected retired Marine Corps General James Jones to be his National Security Adviser, which drew high praise from John McCain. He appointed Tim Geithner at Treasury, a former member of the Kissinger Associates and advocate of the TARP (the Wall Street bailout).  He tried to appoint other Republicans to his cabinet, such as Judd Gregg at Commerce.  Despite Obama’s huge mandate and his message of “change,” most of his cabinet appointees were conventional Washington insiders, more than acceptable to Republicans.

Of course, this is just further proof (if more is needed) that Democrats like Obama and the Clintons are just another business party, a Republican-lite party. I’d say establishment Democrats don’t have the courage of their convictions, except I’m not sure they have convictions.

Well, Trump has convictions.  And he’s unafraid to act on them with his cabinet choices. You think the Democrats might learn something from this?

At Informed Comment, Juan Cole has an excellent column on this whole issue, “Why do GOP Presidents get to go Hard Right, and Dems are just GOP Lite?” Here’s how Cole begins his column:

After it was confirmed that Donald J. Trump will appoint former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson Secretary of State, the shape of the Trump cabinet and team has become clear. Neofascist Steve Bannon is White House Strategist. Openly racist Jeff Sessions is Attorney General (guess how many civil rights actions he is going to initiate). General James “Mad Dog” Mattis is Secretary of War (call it what it is). Notorious Islamophobe and conspiracy theorist, who denies that Islam is a religion, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is National Security adviser.

But Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, when they came to power (and both were very popular and had real mandates) did not go left in the way that George W. Bush and now Trump have gone right.

In fact, the anecdote is told that in 1993 Clinton and his cabinet looked around the room at each other and observed, “Here we are, Eisenhower Republicans.” Why?

Why, indeed?  Just imagine if a true liberal Democrat won the White House.  And let’s imagine he or she is casting about for a suitable Secretary of Defense, someone who thinks outside of the pentagonal box.  How about Ralph Nader or Noam Chomsky?  (Cole mentions Frida Berrigan, another provocative choice.)

Call it spine, call it stones, call it sand, call it whatever you want, but Trump’s Republicans have it and the spineless Democrats don’t.  Just wait until January, when we start to hear about a few Democrats crossing the aisle to work with Trump in the spirit of “bipartisanship” and “putting government back to work.”  It makes me think of another saying of my parents: Trump and his cabinet of billionaires and millionaires “will be laughing all the way to the bank.”  The rest of us?  We may be laughing, but only to hide the tears.

Note: Revised on 12/19 to add retired Marine Corps General Jones as another example of Obama’s ill-fated effort to “move to the center” and to appease Republicans.

6 thoughts on “Trump’s Anti-Government

  1. Obama & Clinton = Republican Lite? I would leave off the Lite because their policies put in place were purely Republican, perhaps not quite conservative Repubican, but pure Republican all right.


  2. I’ve been using that term “anti-government” since he announced Sessions. Trump is the anti=president of the anti-government.

    A friend has come up with “Trump’s Razor”, a way of predicting and explaining things: “The stupidest reason for the worst choice that will lead to the worst outcome” is the one to bet on every time in looking at he political conflicts to come.


  3. These people are not “conservative” by any matter or means. Like the Nazis, they are “far right revolutionaries.” (Bannon even says so publicly) It’s always hard for those in the status quo (the Democrats) to understand the nature of a revolutionary threat, by the time the few of them who can are able to wrap their heads around the reality of the threat and its nature, it’s generally too late. As an old German friend who survived ‘the twelve bad years” once told me: “The Nazis didn’t elect Hitler, the conservatives did, because they believed him when he told them he was one of them, a lie they discovered too late.”


    1. Great point. Definitely not conservative. They are not “conserving” anything. They are looking for radical change to serve their own selfish interests and ideologies.


  4. It does indeed pay to contrast the way in which Republicans, once elected to office, act swiftly and ruthlessly to achieve the aims of mega-corporation CEOs and major stockholders (but I repeat myself) with the way Democrats, timid and fearful, act whenever the public elects them to do something, anything, for the common working people. For example, from Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy, by Michael Hudson:

    What voters wanted in the U.S. 2008 presidential election was a change away from multi-billion dollar gifts to Wall Street and the Cheney-Bush foreign military adventures. Barack Obama presented himself as the ‘hope and change’ candidate. In an atmosphere shaped largely by public anger at the [Wall Street] bailouts, he and other Democrats spoke of writing down mortgages for underwater homeowners, rolling back bank salaries and bonuses, and re-empowering the regulatory agencies that the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations had gutted. Congress had not written any of this into the TARP legislation or pressured government agencies to limit how banks could spend the giveaways they received. The hope was that this would change with a strong voter mandate that gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives and Senate as well as the Presidency. The political path was open to enact far-reaching reforms.”

    So what happened when the Democratic Party finally got its hands on all that political power? Again, from Killing the Host:

    Obama quickly slammed the door shut. Although having run on a populist platform his role was to deliver his Democratic Party’s liberal constituency of urban labor, racial and ethnic minorities, environmentalists and anti-war advocates to his campaign contributors. Over the past half-century the Democratic Party’s strategy has been to create a menu of promises from two columns. Column A reflects the hopes and changes that voters want. That is the platform on which the Democrats ran. Column B represents what the party’s major contributors and lobbyists want. Obama won the election by verbalizing the hopes of the 99 Percent, but did in practice what his campaign backers from the One Percent wanted. His language was populist, his policies oligarchic and aimed to prevent change.”

    Now we have the Republicans soon to take complete charge of the government with no one but the minority Clinton/Obama Democrats to oppose their rapacious gluttony. Wait a minute! Did I just say “Clinton/Obama Democrats” and “oppose Republicans” in the same sentence? OK. Go ahead an laugh hysterically. You have every right to do so. I mean, with the just-defeated Clinton/Obama Democrats screaming: “The Russians cheated us! The Russians cheated us!” what can the Republicans and the One Percent possibly have to fear from that pathetic pack of losers? The Democrats can’t even identify the Republicans as the mortal enemy of the working classs when all historical evidence to date can leave no possible doubt.

    But Donald Trump promised working-class Americans that he would bring them a “change” as well, didn’t he? Didn’t he run as a “populist” and “outsider” who didn’t owe anything to the One Percent because he belonged to that exclusive club of thieves himself? Well, yes, but we must realize that, as a member of the One Percent, he simply believes that the 99 Percent owe him. And he aims to collect. As much and as quickly as possible. See how that “change” thing works? You see, by “change,” he only meant that a different right-wing faction of the Property Party – the Republican right-wing faction, in this case – will now do the screwing of the 99 Percent instead of the Democratic right-wing faction, not that the same royal screwing will not continue, and even accelerate, come Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017. Same screwing. Different screwer. See?

    Classic Orwellian doublespeak: Change is the Status Quo

    Anyway, for those who still don’t get how this tag-team political puppet show works for the One Percent — especially for Wall Street casino-shops like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs — a final quote from Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy, by Michael Hudson:

    Obama was enabled to move to the right by Wall Street loudly proclaiming that he was hurting them, not helping them. Ron Suskind explained to Jon Stewart on Comedy Central why President Obama kept Tim Geithner on as Secretary of the Treasury despite his refusal to draw up a plan to take over Citigroup as he was asked to do:

    “Jon Stewart: We keep hearing that Wall Street guys hate Obama. And my sense is, ‘Why?” They’ve had it as good as anybody in this country over these past two and a half years, probably better. What’s their beef in this?”

    “Ron Suskind: It’s Interesting. I asked the same question. I talked to a senior Wall Street guy and said, ‘What gives with this thing with Obama? You know, you’re after him, he’s anti-business. You know, god! — he couldn’t have done more. He basically opened the federal purse for you guys. He saved your skin’ … And he says, ‘No no! You see, of course he’s not anti-business. But when we say he’s anti-business he just ends up doing more for us. So we’re going to keep saying it.”

    You see? The Republicans say awful things about Democrats and the Democrats give them more of what they want. Democrats call this “getting stuff done” and “moving to the center.” Then the Republicans say even more awful things about the Democrats, who then give them even more of “the stuff” that they demand. Then the Republicans …. Get it? The Democrats really feel terrible when the Republicans say bad stuff about them and then somehow suppose that if they give the Republicans what they want — and take the political blame for it — that the Republicans will stop saying those awful things about Democrats, even though repeadedly saying those awful things always gets the Republicans everything they want without having to take the blame for it. Now, why would anyone but a Democrat think that Republcians would ever stop doing what has worked so well, and so cheaply, for them for such a long, long, …, long period of time? Perhaps Presidents Bill Clinton (and his other half, You-Know-Her) along with President Barack Obama can explain, although I think that Michal Hudson and Ron Suskind already have.

    Tee up the football, Lucy. Charlie Brown has convinced himself once again that you will really let him kick it this time for sure. He never learns.


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