“If this [U.S.] government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know.“—Frank Church (1924-1984), American lawyer and U.S. Senator, chairman of the Church Senate Committee, (in an interview with TV program ‘Meet The Press’, Aug. 17, 1975)
“I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, and we stole. It was like —we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.”—Mike Pompeo (1963- ), former CIA director and presently secretary of state in the Trump administration, (in April 2019, while speaking at Texas A&M University.)
“I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the ‘Bikers for Trump’—I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough—until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.“—Donald Trump (1946- ), 45th American president and American hotel and casino owner, (statement made during an exclusive interview, in the Oval Office with Breitbart News, published on Wed., March 13, 2019)
The election of New York far right businessman Donald Trump in November 2016 has turned out to be a tragedy for the United States and also for the world, as more blunders, disasters and catastrophes unfold under his inexperienced, impetuous and incompetent stewardship.
Politically, never in its entire history has the United States ever had a president who openly rejects the basic principles of the U.S. Constitution, i.e. the separation of powers and the idea of co-equal branches of government, and who rejects the core principle of democracy that no one is above the law. This is a dangerous precedent, which is bound to open a Pandora’s Box of ominous things to come. Ever since Mr. Trump’s inauguration on Friday, january 20, 2017, he has talked and behaved as if he has persuaded himself that he is above the law.
Then, there was that long series of chaotic, impulsive, improvised and incoherent policies, as never before seen in modern times. This has been the case not only in economics, public finance and trade —but also in a callously bad diplomacy, which has tarnished the reputation of the United States around the world. The same can be said about Donald Trump’s divisive social policies, which have intensified income and wealth inequalities, and which are, in fact, a throwback to the 1920s.
Let us review a few of them:
1. Trump’s dangerous fixation with the stock market
The stock market is not the economy. As a matter of fact, most economic recessions and depressions have begun when the stock market was very high or in a bubble, and about to crash, very often due to bad economic, regulatory and monetary policies that led to unchecked speculation, financial crises and financial panics.
That happened, for example, before the Long Depression of 1873-1879, before the Depression of 1920-21, and before the Great Depression of the 1930s, and before other serious economic recessions, such as the recent Great Recession of 2007–2009.
This is not a trivial matter. Any fool can push the stock market to unsustainable levels. One has simply to print a lot of money or to go deeply into debt. Some Third World countries still do it, even nowadays. But when the rest of the economy goes the other way, severe economic consequences do follow. And that will not only damage the U.S. economy but also the world economy.
2. An American problem, which turns out also to be a world problem
If the Donald Trump problem were only a domestic U.S. problem, hope would be that the political and legal systems in the U.S. would be able to manage it. However, the man not only professes to be above American laws, he also talks and acts as if there were no international law. That is why that is an international problem and not only an American problem.
Mr. Trump seems to see himself as some sort of a self-proclaimed ‘king of the world’. On any given day, he might threaten to “totally destroy” and annihilate a foreign country, as he did in reference to North Korea and Afghanistan. On another day, he would declare himself ready to “destroy the economy” of another foreign country, as he did recently regarding the Turkish economy, etc. This is madness on a high level.
That such an individual in a position of high authority, but with so little mental capabilities and judgment, has surfaced on the international political scene, in the 21st Century, is most astonishing, and somewhat unbelievable.
What is especially scary in Trump’s case is the fact that he surrounds himself with professional sycophants, yes-men and clones of himself. The result is that there is no filter and no safeguards around him, against his impulsive and destructive moves. He thinks and acts as if he were a one-man government.
3. The economic consequences of Mr. Trump
The private sector of the U.S. economy is one the most resilient and one of the most productive in the world. However, Mr. Trump’s chaotic approach to government and his ill-thought economic policies are bound, sooner or later, to have a very negative impact on the economy.
Currently, the U.S. manufacturing sector is already in a recession and contracting. The public and military sectors are supported by huge and unsustainable fiscal deficits. Consumers, going deeper and deeper into debt, keep the service sector humming for the time being. All the while the foreign trade sector is in disarray, thanks to the destructive trade wars that the Trump administration has initiated.
One day, this fragile economic structure built on debt and contracting trade flows is going to collapse, and it is not going to be pretty. And if one takes into consideration the important technological changes about to take place in the coming years, as the transport industry is going to be retooled, one could fear that the next economic recession could be much worse, especially if the global economy and financial markets were to be derailed in tandem.
4. The political and social consequences of Mr. Trump
It is pretty much admitted, by now, that Donald Trump has been an important factor of division among Americans. The antipathy between Republicans and Democrats, for instance, is as intense and more personal as it has ever been in modern times. Moreover, in its studies and surveys, the Pew Research Center has found that partisan polarization and social hostility between groups have risen over the last three years.
No need to go further. The damage Mr. Trump has done is already considerable.
Let us only hope that bad does not get worse!
© 2019 Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay
International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, of the book “The New American Empire”, and the recent book, in French “La régression tranquille du Québec, 1980-2018.” To write to the author : firstname.lastname@example.org.