Donald Trump’s presidency signifies very clearly for the first time an identification of fascist rhetoric with the interests of the American ruling class, also known as the 1%, in the face of the country’s executive power.
This problem, however, has not been solely caused by the totalitarian billionaire president of the United States, but expands to his choice of cabinet members, all of whom will most likely be approved by the Senate. Among others, Trump picked Rex Tillerson, outgoing president of ExxonMobil, for secretary of state; Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier, for head of the Environmental Protection Agency; and Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive, for secretary of the treasury. These choices align perfectly with the Republican Party’s environmental agenda, which according to the 2012 Republican Platform, completely altered its position on climate change by declaring it an illusion that was nurtured by “environmental extremists.”
For a long time, the Grand Old Party has been advocating the minimization of state interventionism in the market and the private sector. Nevertheless, the fact that the GOP advocates for such policies without any barriers proves that their sole purpose is to maintain and perpetuate an environment of tolerance for the unlimited increase of the profits of oil companies such as ExxonMobil, energy producers and banks that invest in energy production from fossil fuels. An environmental policy that is dictated by a focus on exploiting all fossil fuel reserves proves that the only kind of extremism in this matter is corporate extremism in favor of profit at all costs. This position is supported by the GOP in the 2016 Republican Platform and by President Trump.
At the same time, the increase in carbon dioxide contents in the atmosphere, the continued increase in global temperature since 1980, and the decrease in the mass of ice both in Greenland and Antarctica, according to NASA, constitute climate change and the actual dangers of the environmental crisis. Apart from these facts, the finite supply of fossil fuels is running out at increasing rates. The combination of these two factors means that focusing on energy production from fossil fuels is shortsighted and proves the need for investment in alternative energy sources.
However, the GOP supports an energy policy that focuses on extracting fossil fuels, despite the aforementioned situation, in order to “support the development of all forms of energy that are marketable in a free economy without subsidies.” More specifically, Trump aims to extract “$50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.” Therefore, they propose that the US deviate from President Obama’s Clean Energy “path toward a 30 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the power sector by 2030” in order to satisfy the needs of a “free market” economy. Abiding by this goal would lower “power plant CO2 emissions [by] 277 million metric tons annually.” Nevertheless, Trump is choosing not to constrain carbon emissions based on the abstract notion that only energy that does not need subsidies should be marketed.
The second consideration is the opposition to any tax on carbon emissions. This policy proposition aims, once again, to satisfy the needs of a “free market” economy, as it would theoretically lower energy prices. Capturing carbon would be left to the discretion of capitalist energy producers while directly contradicting their interests. The only entities that benefit from avoiding carbon taxation, and that Trump and the Republican Party knowingly and actively support, are energy producers who are not willing to compromise any of their profits in order to achieve the aforementioned long-term sustainability. According to the Congressional Budget Office, instituting a carbon tax would decrease CO2 emissions by about 8 percent over the course of a decade at the cost of nearly $1.2 trillion for private producers. Hence, opposition to a carbon tax is solely based on the goal of assisting energy producers in avoiding these taxes while not reducing the amount of CO2 they produce. Such action solely aims to protect their profits.
Yet the most disgraceful part of this policy proposition is that it is presented as if it is intended to assist struggling low-income families. Republicans advocate against the job loss caused by reducing fossil fuel extraction and the imposition of a carbon tax. It is true that there would be some degree of rise in unemployment, but that could be combated by job creation in the renewable energy sector, which is projected to add around 1 million jobs by 2030 in the United States, according to the International Renewable Energy Association. These jobs could be explicitly reserved for people previously working in non-renewables. It is therefore evident that struggling low-income families are not the ones who would benefit from avoiding a carbon tax, neither in the short term nor in the long term.
Thus, it is clear from the outset that the new president of the United States has come to power in order to execute laws in favor of the American ruling class, which includes himself and his family. It is even more alarming, however, that Trump will be able to nominate one Supreme Court justice, thereby giving the judicial branch a Republican majority while Congress is already controlled by the Republican Party. The so-called checks and balances, i.e., the mutual control of the three federal branches of government by means of separating them, will be especially weakened during Trump’s presidency.
Given this situation, the Trump Era is especially dreaded, and the next four years appear ominous. Trump’s fascist rhetoric, which could by all means become a fascist rule, is in complete alignment with the interests of multinational oil corporations, banks and the president himself. Hence, we are called to combat a mechanism that brilliantly came to power in order to protect those interests as the popular rage became more and more threatening. This mechanism deceitfully promises to comfort those expressing their rage and to provide solutions by “making America great again.”
Trump’s presidency signifies, for all of us living in the United States and for the entire world, the beginning of a four-year term of continuous resistance to these policies. Those of us who envision a more just world where the responsible use of natural resources, as well as their control by the people, constitute basic pillars of policy-making ought to form a barricade against all such disturbing policies, against unlimited profiting that costs us both economically and environmentally, and against a possible mobilization of fascist forces to protect it.