Just in case you thought you’d get an early political holiday present in the form of Donald Trump actually being more moderate than his campaign promises, it’s time to start planning for that wrapped lump of coal to show up via Amazon drone. Which might be good news for the coal miners and executives waiting for a rebound (not going to happen), but is terrible for the majority of the country that voted for a science-based, constitution-respecting, human rights-defending, livable wage-proposing administration that will now be delayed for at least four years, much to the shame and detriment of the United States.
No, what we are seeing is the flowering of an idea that I suspect most Americans have forgotten about after cramming it for their high school history final exam questions and assuming it was nothing they needed to remember. That’s right, folks, I’m talking about good old Dwight Eisenhower’s warning about the emergence and power of the Military-Industrial Complex. And Ike didn’t just warn us about how the complex would corrupt democracy. He also presciently said that we can’t continue to take our natural resources for granted:
Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
Eisenhower is a terrific role model for us today because he was a military man who understood the danger of too much military influence in what is supposed to be a civilian-run government. He respected that the constitution gave him the power to be commander-in-chief, but that power must be wielded responsibly, pragmatically, and in conjunction with the people. Ike used it well, especially when you consider that the 1950s saw a significant increase in the number and power of nuclear weapons, the Suez Crisis, attempted uprisings in Hungary and Poland, and attacks on our ally Israel.
This is why Trump’s infatuation with the military, and the fact that he’s appointed generals to a significant number of cabinet and government posts, is so disturbing. He is using his power to surround himself with other people who see power differently than civilians with no military experience. And he seems to continue to believe that the military has the answers to many of our policy questions.
As for the industrial part of the equation, nominating a Labor Secretary who’s against a livable minimum wage, an Education Secretary who bashes public schools, a true know-nothing for Housing, an anti-science guy at the EPA, and what looks like the mother of all oil executives as Secretary of State proves pretty conclusively that this is going to be a government-by-testosterone with little to no moderating influences from what’s left of the sensible Republican Party. Trump is going to rule by the Only I Can Fix It credo he ran on, and it looks like he’s going to keep his hands in his business dealings despite all of the evidence that suggests that decision will be his ultimate undoing.
What’s even more disturbing is the news that the president-elect is not electing to attend the daily intelligence briefings that are vital in this time in our history. And if anyone needed more intelligence, it’s Donald Trump. This weekend he is bashing the professionals who are saying that the Russians were far more involved in the election that previously reported and he’s also questioning whether the Russians or “some guy in New Jersey (not me)” is responsible for the hacking.
These are the tidbits that let you know that Trump thinks that nothing is possible because anything is possible. He’s not anti-intellectual, he’s un-intellectual. It’s hubris, and we all know how that ends.2