The Predictable Trump – Part II: Domestic Policy

Trump can cement his status in power by delivering on an economic platform of wealth creation for all Americans. Contrary to current narratives, Trump can in fact keep his economic promises by way of pursuing policies of protectionism and deregulation – premised on the anti-China blueprint of the TPP and TTIP treaties but executed inside the U.S. – in order to make the American economy capable of competing with China’s state economy in terms of both sheer job creation and all manner of extralegal protections for holders and investors of capital. If successful, this economic platform will attract votes from the working class, the middle class, and the small bourgeoisie, giving Trump the popular mandate to quell resistances to his economic platform from labour, gender, race and religious unions and movements.[1]

This economic mandate may be further strengthened by way of projects of ideological division and galvanization, such as the construction of the border wall with Mexico (division of identity across the lines of racialized labour) and the Muslim Ban (division of identity across religious lines). Projects such as the Ban force Americans to take divisive stances against one another, pushing them into pro- and anti-Trump camps. In fact Trump’s political and electoral master plan relies heavily on dividing communities and states across various class and identity lines in order to render the lumping working of his nativist rhetoric more effective. Projects such as the Wall aim to justify and reify the wage and rights gap that separates the illegal migrant from the ‘ordinary’ American, and so sustains the very efficiency and competency of industries and economies entirely dependent on the illegal migrant’s labour.

It is important to note that Trump need not deliver a full recovery of jobs and industries all across America. What Trump needs first and foremost and in the meantime – throughout the initial, heavy-handed phase of the execution of his economic reforms – is added time and consistent support from his main base.[2] And insofar as the economies of key swing states (such as Ohio and Pennsylvania) somewhat recover, the political and electoral threat and reach of democratic or independent opposition is sufficiently curtailed.[3] This is because Trump’s main voting block, that is, the demographic that “with no college degree” that earn “more than $100,000 a year”[4] – consisting likely of farmers/landowners and entrepreneurs of the service industry – will unwaveringly support Trump throughout his anti-immigration and deregulation measures. This demographic must have considered the potential legalization of undocumented immigrant workers (under a Hillary Clinton administration) as not only detrimental to its class interests but also as most threatening to its hold on the demographic makeup and so political future of the U.S. It is also important to add that it was the will of a somewhat similar demographic that carried the Brexit vote.[5] Contrary to the dominant “working-class revolt” narratives, the pro-Brexit middle and upper-middle class dwarfed the working-class turnout by more than three million votes.

In turn, the potential success of Trump’s economic measures may guarantee a slew of new victories at the federal and state levels for the Trump-block of the GOP. These victories will gradually remove the old establishments of both the Democrats and the GOP – the opposition fronts likely to offer the most rugged resistance to Trump – from political and legislative power. Moreover, Trump’s promise to negotiate new economical treaties with other countries on a one-to-one basis will only fatten the current kingmakers at the expense of eliminating the existing establishments’ hold on capital and hence power (who hedged their bets on the TTP and TTIP’s success).[6] Corporations and other power players will inevitably fall in line once they benefit from Trump’s proposed changes and plans. This last fact is not lost to the old guard of American politics. It is for this reason that establishment figures such as John McCain criticize Trump so openly and vehemently.[7]

The ‘Left’ should increasingly engage with and exploit this internal gap to its own ends, but must not rely on it as a politically productive narrative. The divides within the deep state arise from disagreements over the stakeholders’ vision of and share in the future of neoliberalism, and not from irreparable antagonisms over the fundamental principles and world spirit of the neoliberal order. But before turning to Trump’s foreign policy plan and the wider argument on neoliberalism, I must address the language and rhetoric of Trump’s ideological narrative. This political language has proved very effective in winning the frustrations of Americans over to Trump’s side. I will get to that in Part III.

 

 

[1] It is important to recall that harsher measures were imposed on the working classes throughout the Reagan and Thatcher administrations, and that working class revolts against these measures were successfully deterred with the help of political and military strategies similar to those to be outlined later in this piece.

[2] Trump’s economic policy can receive short-term boosts from jobs and value created by his proposed infrastructure investments, and over the long-term, it will benefit from reversals in flow of unregulated and untaxed American investments (back to the U.S.). The budgetary deficit inflicted by infrastructure projects and tax-cuts may be offset by heavy cuts to social welfare expenditure (as proposed by Trump).

[3] Needless to say, the red states are reliably Republican and the blue states reliably democratic.

[4] https://newrepublic.com/article/138754/blame-trumps-victory-college-educated-whites-not-working-class

[5] http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/36651-after-brexit-reckoning-with-britain-s-racism-and-xenophobia

[6] I will speak about these treaties and how Trump will exploit them for his own domestic ends further below, in my discussion of Trump’s foreign policy.

[7] The recent revelations about the Obama team’s part in leaking the documents on Michael Flynn also speak of the “deep state’s” mounting resurgence against the newer folds of neoliberalism.

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