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Trump and the Road Ahead: The Shock Doctrine

November 15, 2016
Denver's Civic Park on Sunday, November 14, 2016; 1000 people gather to oppose Trump's policies

Denver’s Civic Park on Sunday, November 14, 2016; 1000+ people gather to oppose Trump’s policies (Chiara Piovani photo)

(note: part of a series – I intend to make these blog entries rather short, dealing with different aspects of what lies ahead in a Trump presidency. Today’s entry concerns the immediate program of the incoming Trump administration)

At times like these, I find myself going to the conservative parts of town and just sitting down and listening n to what people are talking about to get a sense of what is on their minds. Today I had coffee in a café in Wheatridge for a half hour or so. The café talk a week after Trump’s victory – and it was quite detailed – was about the last-minute victory of the Denver Broncos two days ago over the New Orleans Saints. That was it.

Although its population has changed some over the decades, Wheatridge and nearby Arvada are the home of the Faith Bible Chapel, one of the most right-wing, Christian fundamentalist outfits in the state. It is also the base of the longtime reactionary Coors family, whose political influence in Colorado and nationwide remains considerable. A hundred years ago these western suburbs of Denver were among the bastions of Colorado’s KKK; even today Wheatridge is still, for good reason, often referred to as “White Ridge” by some.

Meanwhile, today, for the second time in less than a year, the city of Denver, getting into the spirit of the coming Trump administration, is engaged in “lower economic cleansing” – as KGNU talk show host Shareef Aleem calls it: “sweeping” the downtown areas of homeless people forcing them once again into the suburbs and down by the Platte River and along Cherry Creek.

Trump has his shock doctrine and we have ours (which is stopping his)

Something to think about: What Obama and a number of voices here in Denver are suggesting is to “give Trump a chance”. True he was elected (although we can debate in more detail what that means and doesn’t mean). But something else for people to consider…essentially what Trump and co. are going to do is the U.S. version of the “Shock Doctrine.” (If you haven’t read the book by Naomi Klein, you might as well now). The essence of the doctrine is the following: taking advantage of political or natural crisis, while a population remains stunned and reeling, be it from the military coup that Pinochet engineered in Chile or what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans, it is at precisely at such a moment that what I can only describe as “forces of the extreme right” – or as it is more technically known “neo-lberalism” swing into action and try to implement in a hurry as much of their program as possible. It is the political version of a “blitzkrieg,” the purpose of which is to ram through as much of the right wing Republican program through Congress as quickly as possible:

That is what is happening now in the aftermath of the Trump victory.

Although mostly what the news is reporting today is what are referred to as trial balloons, much of it will be implemented. What does that mean for the American people?

  • the dismantling of what is referred as the American social net (social security, health care, what is left of the welfare state)
  • the deregulation of as much of the economy as possible
  • the further pummeling of the federal taxation system so as to benefit the rich at the expense of everyone else
  • a roll back on civil rights, women’s’ rights, and the modest (very modest) advances the country has made in terms of climate control

But something else for people to consider…essentially what Trump and co. are going to do is the U.S. version of the “Shock Doctrine.” (If you haven’t read the book by Naomi Klein, you might as well now). The essence of the doctrine is the following: taking advantage of political or natural crisis, while a population remains stunned and reeling, be it from the military coup that Pinochet engineered in Chile or what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans

More specifically this all out offensive will target the following:

– An administration that not only opposes climate change but will do everything possible to make the world more dependent of fossil fuels with the consequences that entails
– an attack on Social Security, perhaps its dismantling
– nothing short of a horrific attack on foreign immigrants in this country
– Obamacare, which despite its obvious problems, as extended medical care to millions is on the line
– Expect an all out attack on the Environmental Protection Agency – with the possibility that it will be dismantled
– Roe vs. Wade, one of the most significant advances in women’s rights, is threatened with reversal
– a major attack on government workers at all levels – with dramatic cuts in federal employees from all sectors
– the putting together of one of the most virulently right-wing administrations in this country’s history with names like Rudi Guiliani, Stephen Bannon, John Bolton, Sarah Palin and the rest of that cast of over-the-edge Tea Party-types all in the running
– a $25 billion cut in food stamps that will starve many, many Americans

Of course there is more and for the time being I’ll wait a few days to discuss the international aspects of the situation, which are also fast developing.

From where I’m sitting “giving Trump a chance” is precisely the wrong strategy to deal with the political blitzkrieg we are now facing as his administration will do everything in its power to ram through as much of their program as possible as quickly as possible, undoing as much of nearly a century of what is left of the American social contract. Whatever organizing, opposition to this program that can be done now, between now and the end of the first hundred days of the Trump Administration, will be critical.

As one friend put it: Trump has his shock doctrine and we have ours (which is stopping his).

So…get ready, get involved, don’t sit by the sidelines on this one. Don’t kvetch, organize (or if you have to kvetch a little, but try to get over it because there is too much to do,..and help those who can’t seem to get out of their depression).

In the next few days we (we = Nancy and I) intend to make practical suggestions. Frankly some folks don’t need them, they are already in motion and then some, but there are many others, who want to do something but have time restrictions (otherwise known as work) or are physically not able to get around much. Still there is much that can be done.

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