To my friends who think I am not planning on giving Donald Trump a chance to govern now that the election is over, and who appear to hold out optimism that his policies will be good for America if we will all just get behind him:
There are many of us who are already well beyond the point of giving Trump the benefit of the doubt. I want to describe the seriousness of our concerns, and explain why we have them.
We are deeply troubled by:
- The way he conducted his businesses prior to running for President
- The way he conducted his campaign during the last 18 months, and
- The way he is conducting his transition to the Presidency, as if he is still the boss on The Apprentice, parading an array of billionaires and millionaires for appointment to his cabinet and important posts. Far from his often-stated goal of “draining the swamp,” Trump seems to be instead selecting advisors with the aim of easing his ability to corrupt the affairs of State and paving the way for the top 1 percent to sustain unimaginable wealth and power, while the rest of us pay the price.
Trump has no experience in government and, far from selecting able people to advise him as all previous Presidents have done when coming into office without the breadth of experience required of the position, he seems to be doling out patronage to his loyal followers rather than recruiting people with good resumes for the jobs at hand. Already we have seen: a person without any teaching experience or interest in public education to head the Department of Education, a climate denier to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and a Treasury Secretary who foreclosed on over 30,000 families following the 2008 recession, while pocketing billions upon the sale of the bank he bought at “a fire sale.”
Trump started by appointing Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist, a position that requires no Senate confirmation. That is the position that holds the most sway, as Bannon will be the last person to have the President’s ear when a life or death decision must be made. Far from thinking Bannon will not be running things, most people who study this actually feel Bannon was the brains behind the whole campaign, much like Cheney was known as ‘Bush’s brain.’ Bannon’s reputation precedes him, of course, given his position as former CEO of Breitbart, a racist, sexist, misogynist, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT publication that gives voice to white supremacist ideology.
In gauging his rollout of questionably qualified appointees (many of whom are multi-millionaire or billionaire campaign donors), in considering the tremendous conflicts of interest that he and his family bring into the White House, in observing the way in which he has pit his supporters against the Press (which serves an important purpose as the fourth branch of government in asking questions and keeping the President and Congress honest), in witnessing the way he is picking and choosing businesses such as Carrier to lure with taxpayer dollars to stay in this country, and in viewing his own naiveté in handling foreign policy matters, it quickly becomes apparent which direction Trump will take this country. The mistakes he has already made in dealing with foreign powers indicate a real potential for taking us into war if he continues to refuse his daily intelligence briefings and fails to seek the advice of the Department of State before dealing with foreign powers.
In the days immediately following the election, Trump arranged for and accepted a call from the leader of Taiwan despite the U.S. diplomatic ban on recognizing Taiwan since 1979 because of sensitivities in Taiwan’s relationship with China. This was done in complete disregard of the fact that President Obama was still in charge of U.S. policy. The State Department had not been called upon to guide his conversation, and who knows if his telephone even had the proper security protection! In just one phone call, Trump ran the risk of compromising U.S.-Chinese foreign relations irreparably—and we are now learning this bold move may have been associated with Trump’s family business’s interest in building luxury hotels in Taiwan! *
Sadly, the President-elect increasingly demonstrates his lack of readiness for the job with each passing day. He appears to be in unchartered territory without a roadmap, and even expressed as much after meeting with President Obama after the election, reportedly admitting that he hadn’t realized the magnitude of the President’s responsibilities.
Please don’t be surprised when you hear rumblings of impeachment or, even before that, an electoral college who may, in fact, choose to give the presidency to another candidate because it is the sworn duty of the electors who meet on December 19 to ensure that the reigns of Democracy “will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications,” as expressed by Founder Alexander Hamilton.
Let me emphasize, I value our friendship, but I find it impossible to share in your optimism that the “change candidate” you look to for relief of your burdens will bring the right kind of change; and, in fact, I shudder at the thought of the direction this President-elect will impose on us all. For now, we will simply have to agree to disagree but, hopefully, we can continue the dialogue towards greater understanding of how and why we have arrived at our positions…and pray…
*This opinion piece was written in the aftermath of this first “apparently naive” action which could potentially flame an international incident. Since, a daily onslaught of potential conflicts of interest which could spur other international incidents have been brought to the fore, not to mention the wholly staggering revelation on Friday, December 9, that the CIA alleges that Russia has intervened in our election which SHOULD, of course, in a more normal election cycle, be subjected to rigorous Congressional investigation. We shall see.
Susan Fiehl remembers scooping bulgur from feed bags ensconced in wooden barrels on Quail Street. She has happily mentored her then pre-teen daughter in the fine art of stocking when child labor laws were more easily skirted, has nurtured and plied pansies and peas in the garden shoppe, and now practices feats of Jenga as a courtesy clerk while happily greeting customers at the check-out.