The first Democratic debate began with a question to Warren about the economy: “Since most Americans think the economy is doing fine, why do you need all those plans for change?” She responded by pointing out that the “great” economy was primarily benefiting only a lucky few.
Even that, however, understates the issue. It’s not just that unemployment rates don’t tell the whole story about what it means to be working for a living. It’s that there is so much run amok with the direction of the country that the unemployment rate doesn’t begin to stand-in for the strength of the economy or the well-being of the country overall.
For that we need to pull together many strands and formulate a picture what it would mean to have four more years of Trump—the kind of world we are making. This note attempts to make a start. We can be explicit about many things. Our path of decline was clear from early on, but now we have more specifics. We should leave no doubt about the risks we run.
In doing this, one goal is to avoid what I felt was a problem with the Clinton campaign. Trump kept talking about change, but we didn’t get across the danger in those changes: what they would mean for ordinary daily life, for the environment, for the courts, for democracy in America. Who’s to say if that would have made a difference, but many people were certainly surprised by what they got. If nothing else, it would have called out the risk of non-voting.
What follows is an outline with a few supporting points and references. As noted this is a start.
- Climate change continues unabated
More unprecedented floods, hurricanes, temperatures, etc.
By leaving the Paris agreement we broke the international unanimity that was the best chance for progress.
Each lost year is time we won’t get back
- Loss of US technological edge
Disdain for science and technology in government
Non-support of research and education
Ignoring climate change technologies
Choosing big, established companies over innovators (Net Neutrality)
Xenophobia and racism encourage entrepreneurs to go elsewhere
=> Lower standard of living
=> Real threat to our military security
- Nuclear proliferation and risk of nuclear terrorism
Encouraging nuclear proliferation by statements and actions (N. Korea vs Iran)
More players means more chance of theft or sale
Belligerence normalizes nuclear weapons
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist sees highest risk of catastrophe ever
- Back to the 19th century on woman’s rights
Roes vs Wade hangs by the thread of Roberts’ desire for Court legitimacy.
One more Supreme Court vacancy, and we all live in Alabama.
- Erosion of opportunities for middle class life
Education—weakening of public education and more generations in debt
Attacks on unions
Healthcare at issue—ACA hobbled with no other proposal in view
Continued declines in good jobs for people without degrees
No recognition of the problems created by technology change
Cutting the safety net—If you don’t succeed you’re a loser
- A population divided against itself
Conflicts stoked between races, ethnic groups, cultures
No interest in racial justice—to the detriment of all
Cruel and intentionally divisive Immigration policy
- A world filled with senseless conflict
Major hit to both security and prosperity
Trade wars instead of alliances and international norms
New arms race already announced
Policy rooted in weakness—from fighting on all fronts
Conflict as the first choice— “Trade wars are easy.”
Other wars too?
- Weakened environmental and other standards
Air and water
- Bubble economy based on debt
Good times prolonged by deficit-funded stimulus
Proven recipe for cycles of boom and bust (back to the 19th century here too)
No Republican history of help during downturns
- Undermining of democracy in the US
Increasing government by fiat (“executive order”)
Restriction of voting rights
Politicization of the Justice Department
=> Democracy is not a luxury—it made us what we are.