Well, that was quick. Most political observers outside of the knee-jerk right-wing culture had little doubt that Trump was eventually going to betray the white working-class that elected him. But few imagined he would do it so quickly.
The most plausible scenario for Trump’s betrayal would have been his forming a conservative cabinet with a few economic moderates thrown into the mix, just to avoid the appearance of his sucking up to the fat cats and GOP beltway insiders too soon, then later reneging on his promises, as he is wont to do. That way he could make some “bringing us together” noises, at least for openers. But Trump never had much capacity for remembering, much less honoring his promises.
Joy-Ann Reid at The Daily Beast and Joan Walsh at The Nation document Trump’s fast track betrayal with impressive precision. The title of Reid’s post, “Hey, White Working Class, Donald Trump Is Already Screwing You Over: The Carrier deal was a sham. Ivanka’s moving her shoe production out of China—and into Ethiopia. Wake up, people. You’ve been played,” nicely encapsulates her major points. As Reid elaborates:
You voted for Donald Trump, thinking that he was on your side; that he will save your jobs and your way of life, whatever you imagine that is. Well, you got played…Now, your supposed hero of the working class, the “blue collar billionaire” who you insisted both during the campaign and afterward heard you, understood you, spoke to you, and cared about you, is attacking one of you. Trump used his Twitter account this week to savage United Steelworkers 1999 of Indiana and its president, Chuck Jones, an ordinary working man who dared to tell the truth about the phony Carrier deal that the media shamefully allowed Trump to ride to glowing headlines and boosted poll numbers.
…When Jones pointed out that Trump used Carrier employees as props and “lied his ass off” about the jobs he was supposedly saving, Trump got mad. He tweeted at Jones, blaming him, and US1999, for driving jobs out of Indiana and out of the United States. Think about that for a moment—your next president doesn’t think corporate greed and the pursuit of low wages are driving jobs out; he thinks unions are. That means he thinks your health care benefits and retirement package are the problem, not your CEO and the singular goal of “enhancing shareholder value” at your expense.
Trump the CEO manufacturers his tacky suits and ties in Mexico and his daughter manufactures her clothes and shoes in China. But neither of them plan to set the example for their fellow tycoons by moving those jobs to the U.S.A. Ivanka is moving some of her production to Ethiopia. And she just struck a new production deal in Japan, while on the phone with her dad and the Japanese prime minister.
At The Nation Joan Walsh presents Trump’s cabinet picks in all of their reactionary glory in her article, “Democrats Should Fight All of Trump’s Nominees. Yes, All of Them: He’s betrayed his working-class supporters by naming a cabinet of millionaire and billionaire insiders.” As Walsh writes, “The so-called champion of the working class is assembling a gilded cabinet. Not only will it be the richest, ever; it features plutocrats who’ve presided over the hollowing out of the working class Trump pretended to care about. Party leaders should be shouting about this from every imaginable platform.” Walsh continues:
The Treasury secretary appointed after a campaign spent demonizing Wall Street and “hedge-fund guys” is a former Goldman Sachs banker and hedge-fund guy, Steve Mnuchin, whose bank foreclosed on 37,000 homeowners after the housing crash.
Trump’s reported choice for labor secretary is the minimum wage–opposing, job-killing fast-food mogul Andrew Pudzer, who talks fondly about the day robots will replace workers at his restaurants. Pudzer has been a leader of the corporate fight against the Fight for $15…
Then there’s the billionaire nominee for Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, who owned the deadly Sago Mine in West Virginia when 12 workers were killed in a 2006 explosion. Three years later, he closed the mine. Trump, you’ll recall, has promised to “bring back coal” and “bring back miners.” How will coal country feel about Secretary Ross?
Meanwhile, Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is a climate-change denier who has sued the EPA as Oklahoma attorney general.
His Health and Human Services nominee, Representative Tom Price, opposes the Affordable Care Act and wants to privatize Medicare. Price once claimed it was impossible that any woman would be unable to pay for her own birth control…
Then there’s Housing and Urban Development nominee Ben Carson, who has zero experience in housing or urban development and appears to oppose Fair Housing laws.
Betsy DeVos, the pick for education secretary, is yet another billionaire. She sent her children to private schools and has crusaded to privatize public education.
Walsh argues that Democrats have so far been a little too silent in responding to Trump’s anti-worker cabinet picks, with the exception of his nomination of Sen. Sessions for A.G., and it does seem like there ought to be more protest on the part of Democratic leaders. Social media is already aflame about it, so it’s a good time for new leaders to speak out.
Trump could have used his cabinet picks to actually promote unity and make an effort to build bipartisanship, which would have won him praise and a sense that he is sincere about healing the divisions. Instead it appears he has chosen to allow himself to serve out of the gate as an anti-worker puppet manipulated by the wealthy elites — not what his working-class supporters had in mind.
The names in his cabinet are immaterial. Wait until he’s actually in office and betraying his campaign promises, democrats risk of getting ahead of themselves and looking foolish. He could very well be hiring people he’s comfortable with and using them to push his “nationalist” agenda. Its better to stick with opposing the objectionable parts of his platform, until he actually to that point.
There needs to be messaging around the cabinet selections, though. Trump’s base will be perfectly happy with the coal exec and the climate denier, and they’ve been taught to oppose minimum wage increases and the ACA. Billionaires, yes, but nothing the working class will complain about until it’s too late.