BY PHILIP KOTLER The US has been downgraded in The Economist’s Democracy Index. It is now in the “flawed democracy” category.
Donald Trump got elected as U.S. President on a platform that included a lot of changes that appealed to many people. Trump promised to “Make America Great Again” by bringing back the high paying jobs that had moved overseas thanks to a Democratic Party that did nothing to stop them.
Trump would also make “America Safe Again” by tightening the immigration system to keep out Jihadist Terrorists, Muslims and refugees. He would also send back to Mexico all the illegal Mexicans, many of whom are “criminal.”
Trump’s first month of whirlwind Presidential activity and tweeting, instead of establishing a confident and promising outlook about a Renewed America, produced a high level of domestic chaos at home and international chaos abroad. Our business leaders became apprehensive and our foreign allies became uncomfortable about what was happening in the U.S. In four weeks, the “so-called” President has managed to do what Al-Qaeda couldn’t – he has created a climate of fear across the world, and created the conditions for the collapse of American Democracy.
Already the US has been downgraded in The Economist’s Democracy Index, from a score of 8.22 in 2006 to 7.98 in 2016, pushing the US into the “flawed democracy” category.
Blowing Up Our Democracy
What is most disturbing is the President’s attack on the idea of America. America is an idea, not simply a country. As some of the recent Superbowl ads showed us, we are more than the sum of our parts. Trump is succeeding in turning e Pluribus Unum into “every man for himself”; he is Closing the American Mind by using a strategy of polarization – by politicizing every aspect of government and civic life.
This is not an accident. What we see with Trump is a systematic targeting of all the institutions and policies that actually made America great. One can argue that the administration (aided and abetted by the GOP) is like a terrorist planting bombs to blow up the pillars of our Democracy.
Here’s the blueprint:
Attack the Press: By lying continuously and labelling the Press as “fake news,” Trump is making sure to cast doubt on the “truth.” He is trying to subvert the press whose job it is to hold our politicians accountable. Senator John McCain has pointed this out – “that’s how Dictators get started.”
Attack the Judiciary: When “so-called” judges intervene to stop a Trump policy, Trump and his minions attack them because the legal system is so “corrupt.” The administration is intentionally destabilizing the judicial branch of government. Government by “rule of law” would prevent Trump from making needed changes.
Attack the Electoral Process: by casting doubt on the electoral process itself, and making false claims of voter fraud, Trump is setting the stage for widespread voter suppression. This is his plan to destabilize the voting process. Twenty-one states are making it harder to vote under this false pretense.
Attack Free Speech: by muzzling dissent, Trump and the GOP are setting the stage for “rule by ideology” – where decisions are no longer made on the basis of science or evidence. He is bending the truth to benefit industry interests. Protestors are branded as terrorists. The National Parks can’t tweet freely. Elizabeth Warren is silenced in the Senate.
Attack the Intelligence Community: Trump has attacked the CIA and the intelligence community, trying to discredit them publicly. Was this done to cover-up the Russian influence on the election?
Attack Immigration: How does a nation built on immigration reject immigration? The “Muslim Ban” is unconstitutional, and the Wall is not addressing the real crisis. We now hear Trump is upgrading his blocked executive order in order to sign a “new and improved” Muslim Ban. Even more disturbing is the news that the Trump administration is planning to use the National Guard to “round-up” and expand deportation of Mexican nationals who are an integral part of our economic fabric, instead of working on real immigration reform.
Attack Civil Rights: Trump’s attack on Sen. John Lewis is the tip of the iceberg. Trump himself is being led by an extremist – Stephen Bannon, the chief strategist of the Trump administration. His influence is seen in the normalization of white supremacy, the “De-Judification” of the Holocaust, and the return of the Southern Strategy. They want to make racism cool again.
Attack Women’s Rights: Trump’s global gag order is yet another attack on women’s rights. Besides his blatant misogynistic character, Trump’s support for defunding Planned Parenthood represents “the most serious threat women have faced so far from this Congress.”
Attack Public Education: Without an educated populace, our democracy is in serious trouble. Betsy DeVos, the cabinet official for education wants to destroy our public education system. Educators are standing up to protest, but the damage she causes to our already embattled educational system may end up being terminal.
Attack the Arts: Trump intends to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment For The Humanities, and privatize the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, the government entity that partially funds both NPR and PBS. This is a political strategy that devalues not just the arts, but Democracy itself. And it’s really not about the money. The entire budget for the NEA, for example, is less than what we, the people, are spending to fund the separate living arrangements for Donald and Melania.
Attack Environmental Regulations: Scott Pruit is an anti-environmentalist who is now in charge of the EPA. He endangers America’s air and water and its children’s health and the future of the planet. Does anyone remember what life was like before the EPA? One only needs to take a trip to Shanghai or Delhi, to see the future. There are plans to weaken and abolish past agreements across the world. Trump has “approved” three pipelines, killed a rule restricting coal companies from dumping waste in streams, and wants to rescind the Clean Power Plan, and end a temporary moratorium on leasing of federal coal reserves. Reports also say Trump will soon “lift restrictions” on energy development on public lands.
Attack our Ethical Policies: Did you know that now it’s legal to bribe foreign governments? Also, Trump has signed an executive order that removes restrictions on lobbyists entering the administration. Far from being drained, it looks like Trump is stocking the swamp. Goldman Sachs stock is up 37% since the election.
Attack our Public Lands: Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced a bill to transfer federal land to the states. This is a common strategy that ends in the privatization of public lands at the state level. Fortunately, a strong public backlash made him withdraw his bill. Our National Parks – “America’s Greatest Idea” – and their protectors, the Park Rangers, are also under attack.
Attack the Free Market: “Trump’s first 30 days take toll on free enterprise,” reads the headline of an article that points out how Trump has used social media to attack dozens of companies, including Amazon, American Airlines, AOL, Apple, Boeing, Carrier, Fiat Chrysler, Coca-Cola, Disney, Facebook, Ford, GM, Goldman Sachs, Google, H&R Block, HP, Koch Industries, Lockheed Martin, Macy’s, Microsoft, Mylan, Procter & Gamble, Sony, T-Mobile, Time Warner, Toyota and Verizon. Is this the right way to run the economy? Hardly. But by attacking these global companies, Trump feeds his followers who mistake his tweets for action.
Attack Labor Unions: Trump is intentionally undermining the unions by actively courting the most conservative sectors of labor and attacking the more liberal sectors. This strategy of polarization allows him to weaken the already weak unions.
Attack our Allies: Trump has questioned the logic behind NATO, likened the US to Russia, and alienated valuable allies in the war against terror. The immigration ban has already given Brand America a black eye. In addition, Trump has insulted the leaders of Mexico, Australia, Germany – all within days of each other.
A Reign of Terror
Trump’s “shock and awe” strategy is being directed at the American public, to keep us off-balance, fearful, and quiet. He invents terrorist attacks to scare and confuse the American public.
Trump carries a deep personal character defect. Either he lives in a delusional reality or he simply cannot help lying. Instead of admitting that his administration has created a first month of chaos, he says that his administration is working like a finely-tuned machine. He would validate to the public that he has a high approval rating by starting his 2020 political campaign in Melbourne, Florida on February 18, 2017. He spoke for an hour to 9,000 fans and followers to recharge his batteries.
Now we are beginning to understand the real revolution that Trump’s backers are planning. Trump is not the leader but only a puppet of Steve Bannon, his Chief Strategist, and Republican extremists. Their aim is to destroy ObamaCare and Medicare, Social Security, and many of our welfare and so-called “entitlement” systems.
These extremists have a bigger aim: to neuter Democracy. They have no interest in bipartisanship. They don’t want to work with the other party. They want to reduce the Democratic Party to a former shadow of itself. The extremists want total control of America by the wealthy class.
They are bent on eviscerating our culture. What we are witnessing is the Birth of Authoritarianism and Dictatorship. Our civil servants now must be very careful in what they say and do, or lose their job. Our business leaders must keep jobs here even at higher costs or be disciplined and embarrassed by a phone call from the President. Critics of Trump need to quiet down or stop their complaints or “suffer consequences.”
“The powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned,” says the President’s man, without adding a follow-on like “democracy be damned.”
The big question is why the leaders of the Republican Party don’t see that they created a monster who will unleash a Reign of Terror. We don’t have to fear the terrorists abroad when our home-grown terrorists have taken over the reigns from within.
Only a few Republicans such as Senator John McCain have spoken out against President Trump’s behavior. The silence is deafening.
The American Dream is in the process of dying in the United States. It still exists but you would have to move to Canada.
Will no one protect this democracy?
It is up to us – we, the people.
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