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Est. April 5, 2002
January 05, 2017 - Issue 680

Is There a Great Awakening


"There are few among the millions of
Trump voters whose families or neighbors
are not beneficiaries of so many of the
programs that Trump and the GOP have
in their sights.  They will do this by
privatizing, which they claim will do
the work more efficiently."

The American people are stirring, they may be awakening, and it just may be caused by the election of Donald Trump and what he said he stands for while on the stump and after he was designated president-elect.

For tens of millions of Americans, they are getting what they wished for and for tens of millions more, their fears are about to be realized: reduction of programs and services that are for human beings and not for corporations or the few obscenely rich among us, along with tax cuts for Corporate America and the 1 percent, the piling on of more money for the already bloated military and “defense,” and a good-by to any environmental regulations that would make our water and air cleaner (thereby making us a little more healthy, as a people).

The Great Turnaround has begun, even before the new president enters the Oval Office. That turnaround is one that Republicans have been salivating over for the past 70 years: Power is now in their hands to make much of the New Deal of FDR disappear, along with the vital programs that Lyndon Johnson signed into law and the bulk of the very modest environmental regulations that have been painstakingly drawn from a reluctant Congress over many years.

But wait, the first test has come even before Trump takes the oath of office. Emboldened by his very public and monumentally disdainful comments about government programs of all kinds, House Republicans tried in their first hours in session in the new year to eliminate their own ethics panel, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), and then, when the outcry was so quick and loud, they rescinded their action. One southern Republican representative reportedly said that his office was “swamped” with calls from constituents, who demanded that the ethics office be retained. And that was especially necessary, since they are paving the way for a president from their own party who bragged that he (only he?) could clean up the swamp that is Washington, D.C.

It turns out that it wasn’t only the people calling legislators to fight the strike of the GOP against the OCE, but it also may have been Trump who called on the Republicans to step back from their first foray into their deregulation of the nation and concentrate on more important things, like tax cuts for the rich. Even though he has placed many of the “swamp denizens” in the top positions of government, he apparently remembered that he promised to “drain the swamp,” if he won the election. He knows there must be the appearance of sticking to a few of his campaign threats.

Citizens who voted for Trump out of anger or even rage against the system that has left them behind will find that his demolition of government programs (and giving the remnants to the private sector) will affect them directly and quickly, if he is able to severely damage Medicare, Medicaid, the food stamp program, Social Security, and all of the regulatory agencies that protect the nation’s air, water, and food system (such as it is).

There are few among the millions of Trump voters whose families or neighbors are not beneficiaries of so many of the programs that Trump and the GOP have in their sights. They will do this by privatizing, which they claim will do the work more efficiently. They have said it so many times that people have come to believe them, even though the graft and corruption involved in so many government contracts that have been granted to private companies have made them so much less efficient. And, that’s not even considering that they fix it so they make maximum profits on top of the graft and corruption. That’s not the definition of efficiency. But, Trump is a businessman, as we have been reminded so often and he should be allowed to run the United States like an efficient business.

His business record shows that his is not the best way to run the country. Aside from his many bankruptcies, he has had a poor showing in some of his businesses, such as steaks, clothing, a casino or two, and one of the biggest failures of all, “Trump University.” In that case, he was forced to pay out $25 million to a group of students, who did not get what they paid for and, especially, a face-to-face meeting with Trump at some time during their education, at which time he was to impart the knowledge that would make them as successful as he purports to be. Even that idea was rather silly, according to press reports at the end of 2016. Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, gained some $11 billion for the year just past, a couple of times Trump’s total wealth.

Voters who cast ballots for Trump were from every demographic and they obviously included racists, misogynists, Islamophobes, sovereigntists (those who believe that the federal government has little or no authority over them), and Right Wingers of every stripe, but according to various studies of the election, they did not seem to be the majority. Even so, those who voted for him are going to be the primary sufferers of the shrinking or destruction of programs for the children, the elderly, the handicapped, those who lost their jobs and live in “flyover country” with no prospect of their regions being brought back to economic health.

Eventually, they will join with those who voted against Trump, because they’ll see that he will not be able to do much of what he said he would do to renew the economy, bring jobs back to the U.S., and “make America great again,” whatever he could mean by that. It is possible that he meant the nation’s military might. We already spend more than any other country on military and weapons systems, which comes to more than half of our annual budget. Yet, he said on the campaign trail that he would spend even more money to ensure that everyone in the world would be afraid to cross the U.S.

If he had been paying attention over the past couple of decades, he would know that most of the world is already afraid of the U.S. because of its willingness to use those weapons and that military. He should know, as a businessman, that his shoot-from-the-hip brand of foreign policy (and it’s not certain that he knows exactly what his policy is) will not work.

His promise to “make America great again,” by increasing military spending will further drain the nation of its wealth, and reduce the citizenry to begging for health care, education, decent housing, and a clean environment. It’s what wrong with the country now and his stated opinions that pass for policies will not improve the situation. Those who voted against Trump know this and that’s why they were in the streets the day after the election, vowing to oppose Trump, whenever his actions threaten to harm the people and the environment. They, of course, were mocked and ridiculed by the people in power and their media outlets and propagandists.

There should be more than a little concern about the incoming administration, which is larded with millionaires, billionaires, and generals, and it appears that the people are waking up and they are moving into the streets. There are thousands of groups, organized and unorganized, that are set to show Donald Trump why the government exists: That would be to benefit the people, not his friends in the 1 percent and in Corporate America. It will be a hard lesson for Trump to learn. It will be as if he were attending Trump University. Things are changing and he does not seem to be the kind of creature that can change to meet new conditions. Political and corporate insiders are hoping that they can work with him to reduce their taxes and eliminate regulations to the extent possible. The money for that has to come from somewhere and the quickest way is to reduce or eliminate programs for the people, those very things that are the focus of their “reforms.”

Groups about which we are talking already have plans to organize and they cover every conceivable aspect of national life, from mass incarceration, to civil and human rights, to the environment, especially climate change (and Trump is a denier and has put other deniers in high positions in his administration). Opposition groups have their work cut out for themselves, but they are up to the job and they do their work well. The problem is that most of them, to date, have been doing their work by themselves, each group on its own issue. They need to begin to work together on a united front, on all of the issues. That is the change that is in the wind.

One example is the Indian nations that in 2016 came to the defense of the Standing Rock water protectors, and that was just the beginning. Countless other groups and individuals realized that the Dakota Access pipeline fight was theirs, too. Activist military veterans also came to the defense of the water protectors. Altogether, they won, stopping further construction of the pipeline. The winners are not declaring permanent victory, because corporations always seem to get the upper hand in these matters and they use their endless funds and batteries of lawyers and (often biased) courts to achieve their goals. And, they never give up, if profits are at stake.

The people are beginning to awaken, to see that the old union principle is right: “An injury to one is an injury to all.” That simple principle is seeping into the body politic of America and, if they act on that newfound realization together, there is no president or congress that will be able to continue to favor the 1 percent over all of the people. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.




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