The First Four Weeks

Here’s a (slightly adapted) quote:

“[Trump] did not have to destroy democracy; he merely took advantage of the decay of democracy and at the critical moment obtained the support of many to whom, though they detested [Trump], he yet seemed the only man strong enough to get things done.”

The big charge against Obama is that he came into power promising change and didn’t deliver. Let’s set aside the inconvenient fact that the American people voted Republican Congresses into power in 2011, 2013 and 2015, thus stymying any change. Obama may have promised change but it would seem that, on reflection, the American people didn’t want it. Or didn’t want the type of change he offered.

Anyway, Trump also came to power promising change, so let’s look at his first four weeks:

Hilary Clinton and Obama were decried for ties to Wall St in general and Goldman Sachs in particular. Trump’s new Treasury Secretary is none other than Mnuchin from… Goldman Sachs. No Change.

Hilary Clinton was called crooked because of the emails (despite the fact that repeated investigations by the FBI, even under blatantly partisan leadership, never found grounds to prosecute). Trump indulged in a very public selfie-fest when potentially secret information was being discussed over dinner in response to North Korea’s missile launch. No Change.

Obama has ordered lots of extra-judicial killings. There’s a spreadsheet here, put together by these people, on drone attacks.


The number of people killed by drones peaked in 2010, and by 2016, was down to 3 strikes and 11 dead. One of Trump’s first actions: a military attack in Yemen, resulting in numerous deaths and casualties. Too early to call, but probably no change.

Obama promised to shut down Guantanamo. In a classic case of politics over principle, no senator or congressman wanted its inmates in his or her state or district, so it came to nothing. The number of inmates now stands at 41. Trump’s promised to fill it right back up again and has already found the first victim. No change.

Executive orders: the US government keeps a list of them here. Obama issued the lowest number of any recent president, and Trump came to power in a flurry of ExecuTweet Orders. Too early to call, but Trump thus far seems impatient of the legislative process. Change.

I could go on, but I won’t.

The quote above was from The Road to Serfdom, written by F.A. Hayek, the founder of neo-liberalism. The book does not, as is often represented, call for minimal government, but rather resists governments that plan. This is becuase central government planning, Hayek argues, leads to totalitarianism. I think he makes a strong case.

The first thing one does in a plan is to choose which bits are to be favoured. Trump has already picked which religions (Protestant Christianity, Orthodox Judism) and industries (coal, oil, steel and cars) are to receive his Imperial favour. And of course, there’s the wall, and rebuilding infrastructure. There’s a central government plan here, even if it hasn’t been articulated in public.

Hayek’s  original? “[Trump]” in the quote above (p. 68) was “Hitler.” Welcome to the new America.