Sunday, March 11, 2018

Trump Pitches Gun Control. Is He Going Progressive?


With an executive order that unilaterally banned bump stocks and simultaneously earned him the wrath of the National Rifle Association, are we witnessing the emergence of Donald Trump, progressive president?

The candidate-supported-by-the-NRA-who-became-president told the group’s national conference last April, “The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end. You have a true friend and champion in the White House.”

But that was before the massacres at Parkland, FL, and Las Vegas. Trump told the NRA he was “going to come through for you,” (https://nyti.ms/2pb8wjr), but he’s a master at reading the public mood which appears to be in favor of reining in unbridled gun ownership. He seems to now favor allowing states to raise the legal age to buy assault style rifles like the ones used in Las Vegas and Parkland. His proposals on guns control may be released Sunday.

Trump knows that no matter how stiff the restrictions he would place on the sale and possession of guns, Democrats would impose tighter prohibitions, leaving him as a distasteful but still the only viable choice of the NRA. 

He probably also feels he no longer needs the $30 million the NRA posted for his election campaign. It would be nice to have, but no longer a necessity. He does, after all, have the power of the presidency to supplement his already proven power of publicity to transmit his message to the public.

As noted in The New York Times article last April,  Trump was a “supporter of restrictions on guns before he entered politics.” Is he going back to his “natural” tendencies, his, in the words of Ted Cruz, “New York values?” Is he truly a progressive, ready to come out of the conservative closet?

Not so fast. 

If there has been one underlying tenet of the Trump Doctrine of governance it is to overturn any vestige of Barack Obama’s presidency. If it were within his power to remove Obama’s and Michelle’s portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, I am convinced he would do it. 

Rather than have beliefs grounded in thought-out principles, Trump is an opportunist. His seeming shift on gun control comes from tragedy. One wonders if it will take another Deepwater Horizon-like catastrophe to reverse his administration’s lifting of safeguards for off-shore oil and gas drilling (https://nyti.ms/2DgK2Jo).

There have been several articles on how regulations protecting people and the environment have been scaled back or eliminated under Trump. Here’s a list The Times compiled as of January 31, 2018: https://nyti.ms/2xVTnW9

Around the same time—the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration—the Intelligencer section of New York magazine published a piece on how he has tainted our country (http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/01/trump-inaugural-address-one-year-later.html). Here are three salient paragraphs:

“The elegant simplicities of campaign rhetoric—or, in Trump’s case, the brutal simplicities—never align with the ugly and complex reality of governing. But Trump’s presidency has presented an especially jarring contrast, since the rhetoric has borne no relation whatsoever to what followed. It’s not that he overpromised but that his promises were fundamentally a con. He and his loyalists possessed not the faintest idea how to address the crises he identified, not even a theory that could lead to a detailed response. Trump’s program has instead defaulted to the preexisting desires of his party’s ideological and funding base, resulting in a regulatory and tax agenda virtually—and in some cases literally—dictated by the business lobby.

“For instance: The federal government will no longer withhold subsidies from for-profit colleges that fail to give their students meaningful skills or educations and saddle their graduates with overwhelming debt. Restaurant owners stand to legally take for themselves tips intended for their servers. Financial advisers will be able to knowingly steer their clients toward investments that benefit the adviser’s firm but not the client. Environmental Protection Agency investigators must now obtain permission (from their fanatically anti-regulation administrator’s office) before even asking companies to track the pollutants they emit. Nursing homes and banks will be allowed to force their customers to sign mandatory arbitration clauses that leave them unable to sue if they are abused or cheated. And on and on. The party’s political messaging has increasingly consisted of ignoring the costs of these measures (higher deficits, lax regulation of risky or antisocial business activity) while highlighting whatever fractional benefits trickle down to the non-business-owning public.

“Employment has grown no faster under Trump than it did at the end of his predecessor’s term. The economy produced slightly fewer new jobs in Trump’s first year than it did in Barack Obama’s last. The primary evidence of the “success” of Trump’s pro-business policies has been to rebrand the essentially continuous conditions of the recovery he inherited as dazzling prosperity rather than bleak misery.”

Progressive? No. A most emphatic, NO! 


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