|Photo by Emilio Labrador|
On Saturday at a campaign rally in Florida, Donald Trump declared how happy he was to “be among my friends and among the people...with hard working Americans.” He gave a rambling, fact-free speech attacking the media, the courts, and anyone who doubted his commitment to the middle and working class. Those classes, he suggested, are the “friends” and “people” around whom he is most comfortable.
At an elite New Jersey golf club in November, Trump said something rather different, according to recordings. Surveying assembled members of the American elite, the then president-elect effused, “You are the special people!” He went on to declare, “So, this is my real group. These are the people who came here in the beginning, when nobody knew how this monster was gonna turn out to be, right?”
“He’s going to the Oval Office, right? You,” Trump told the assembled notables, “are going to make it beautiful.”
Politco described how Trump sidled up to a man who was presumably not a member of the beleaguered working class, and said, “We were just talking about who we [are] going to pick for the FCC, who [are] we going to pick for this, who are we gonna accept--boy, can you give me some recommendations?”
One can assume that the well-heeled member of the Bedminster club didn’t offer the names of people who are committed to holding his class accountable for their contributions to the public welfare and good.
Trump’s cabinet picks reflect his status as among the most elite of the 1%. They are CEOs, party donors, and representatives of the financial sector and its toxic priorities. In power, free to manoeuvre while the president attacks Muslims, refugees, Latinos, judges, and journalists, they will facilitate a massive transfer of wealth from the public treasury to their private purse, from the middle and working class to the wealthy.
They are already starting this process by dismantling checks on the financial sector, attempting to drive costs up and accessibility down when it comes to healthcare, eroding regulations that keep our air and water clean, and developing tax breaks for the wealthy that will lead to cuts in services and welfare for the middle class. There will be more to come. Unless you’re a member of the 1%, you’re not really one of Trump’s “people.” He’ll wear a hat and put on an act for you. But listen to what he says when he retreats to the ballrooms and golf courses of his natural habitat.