The Anti-Establishment Trump That Is Not

Trump is about as anti-establishment as Richard Nixon.

I know Trump supporters who tell me that Trump is doing great things and that he’s one of the best things that ever happened to this country. In a backhanded way, I have to agree with them. Trump is waking up the progressive and liberal base in a way that no other politician has roused them before. Yet my conservative friends tell me that if Trump could retain power, he’d do some very nice things in a second term.

So far, I haven’t seen it. I find it interesting that Trump had no problem pardoning a former Congressman convicted of spending campaign funds like it was his own money. Trump had no problem pardoning four military contractors who were worked for Blackwater, that were convicted of committing heinous crimes in Iraq that resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians. Trump had no problem pardoning people who lied to the FBI to cover political crimes under Trump’s watch. He even pardoned Roger Stone, and that guy worked on Richard Nixon’s campaign. That’s the epitome of establishment behavior.

If Trump is so “anti-establishment” why doesn’t he pardon Julian Assange? What Assange did with Wikileaks was anti-establishment in every sense of that phrase. Assange outed the Democrats for their arrogance. He outed the military for their crimes. He outed the arrogance of ambassadors who work for the United States. Assange outed corruption. Isn’t that what Trump wants to do? Trump talks about how corrupt the Democrats are all the time, but I don’t see him actually doing anything about it.

The American banking system is incredibly corrupt. We saw that in the aftermath of the collapse of the housing bubble, the banks got saved, not the people. That’s corruption. If Trump is so “anti-establishment” why doesn’t he push for public banking to keep the private banks honest? Bernie Sanders was pushing for turning the post office into a public bank for the millions of unbanked Americans who really can’t afford to keep a bank account for a few bucks a month. The post office could do it for free.

If Trump is so “anti-establishment” why doesn’t he promote a free tax program in competition with TurboTax and TaxAct? It’s all algorithms and it’d be easy to implement by the IRS. It could be completely automated. Oh, wait. That means they’d have to buy new computers for the IRS. They might even have to hire more people at the IRS to make that work. Nah, the GOP hates the IRS because they’d rather see money go to the bankers than the government.

If Trump is so “anti-establishment” why doesn’t he push to extend renewable tax credits for a few more years? I know he signed a law to do that, but he wasn’t the one pushing those provisions, that was the Democrats. Trump could even push for a tax credit for energy storage so that we could have enough batteries to get off the grid. Energy production is about as “establishment” as you can get. Big oil and gas and coal, they’re the establishment. And those tax credits would reduce the amount of money flowing to the government. Isn’t that what it means to be anti-establishment?

If Trump is so “anti-establishment”, and he thinks our elections are so unfair, why doesn’t he push to adopt the same political systems that the Allies imposed on Germany after the second world war? As a part of the peace agreement, we required Germany to use ranked-choice voting and multi-representative districts to allow for proportional representation. You know, to make sure that something like Nazi Germany could never happen again. If the GOP is so worried about being relegated to a permanent minority, then I think they’d prefer a more competitive democracy than a competitive authoritarian system as we have now. Trump has that kind of power now. If anyone could get that done, he could.

But the big one, the big Kahuna is Medicare For All. Here we are fighting over the costs of health care. Trump has made great strides towards something like Medicare For All by pushing to ensure that all COVID related health care expenses are covered by the government. It’s basically Medicare for COVID. He’s like a quarter of the way there to Medicare For All. Still, he’s fighting over how to pay for the demand. Not a word about supply.

If Trump is so “anti-establishment” why doesn’t he push to globalize health care? Free trade has worked wonders for cars, electronics, and even services. Free trade has been great for depressing wages and salaries for front line and assembly line workers. Free trade has put our manufacturing and service workers in direct competition with people in third world countries willing to do the same work for much less than Americans demand. We can do the same thing for doctors and nurses.

At the moment, we have a huge shortage of doctors and nurses. The hospitals are paying big bucks to people with nursing skills and that are doctors. They are offering signing bonuses, too. This shortage is all due to the artificial scarcity created by the American Medical Association. Working with Congress, the AMA has engineered strict limits on the number of residency slots at American hospitals, which in turn limits the number of doctors that can practice at any given time. There are limits to the number of nurses, too. There are long lines for people who want to be doctors but they have to wait, in third world countries. As a result, doctors earn roughly double what their foreign counterparts earn in the other OECD countries.

We could easily finance a system whereby we establish an international standard that allows doctors from other countries to practice medicine here, for a fraction of the cost of an American doctor. All we have to do is build, publish, and enforce a standard that is consistent with American expectations for how doctors should practice medicine. Sure that would gore a prized conservative ox, but if we had health care costs (and outcomes) more in line with other OECD countries, we’d be arguing about what to do with the federal surplus, not the deficit.

See this is all a matter of policy choices, and we’re talking about policy choices that made Trump rich. The present landscape of political division and antipathy has been tacitly supported by Trump and his friends and his family. The conditions we see now in American politics is a FEATURE, not a bug, and Trump has been there, supporting that system all this time, since at least the time he started his first business.

So I’m not really buying all this bellyaching about how Trump is such a great guy and how everyone is being so, so unfair to him. He could easily swing the country to any of these ideas I described above, but he doesn’t. He’s just dancing around the edges of meaningful change. He’s not really as revolutionary as I see people make him out to be. He’s about as revolutionary as a fork. Not a pitchfork.

When Trump leaves office, we will have Joe Biden in the White House. At least I know that Joe Biden is pro-establishment. He doesn’t lie about his ambitions or his loyalties like Trump does. He’s right there, telling us we’re going to get a public option instead of Medicare For All, and he won’t utter a word about globalizing health care, either. But at least I know where he stands. I haven’t got a clue about Trump because he never gives a clear signal about who or what he is.

I suspect that we’ll know for sure how “anti-establishment” Trump is if he’s still in the country on January 20th, around 12:01 ET.

Write on.

Husband, father, worker, philosopher, and observer. Plumbing the depths of consciousness to find the spring of happiness. Write on.

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