Trump’s been president for 45 days and there are now two powerful groups in the USA out to fire him.
Most obviously, there are The People: this includes the three-quarters of adult Americans who didn’t vote for him, and the growing number who did who are already having second thoughts. Among The People, women in particular are up in arms: millions have marched, refused to go to work, and more will be radicalised as the profound misogyny of Trump and his appointees unfolds.
Now, every modern US president has come to power supported by a few points more or less than 25 per cent of eligible voters, but Trump won fewer votes than any – and his opponents are more vehement about him than about any other president in living memory.
The People’s disapproval and outrage will only deepen as Trump’s radical policies unfold, because most of his edicts will please small constituencies, such as arms manufacturers and people who are passionate about which toilet transgender people use, while displeasing larger groups like the 20 million who finally got health insurance under Obamacare and could soon be uninsured again, and residents of neighbourhoods that will be trashed when the Environmental Protection Agency is scuttled.
A very small group might also want to dump Trump – billionaires. He says he’s one himself, but a real estate shark invested in alleged entertainments, like fake wrestling, beauty pageants, golf courses, and casinos, is not a real, truly high-finance guy. A recent commentary on the ABC suggested that a collapse in the $10 trillion US bond market could inspire a trillionaires’ rebellion – however, the Constitution makes it extremely unlikely they could force the Twitterer-in-chief to quit or have him tossed out. (And Pence would be as big a nightmare.)
Huge tax cuts
In any case, manufacturing businesses are not ready to join a dump-Trump movement because he’s promising them huuuge tax cuts and a tsunami of taxpayers’ money for a trillion dollar ‘infrastructure plan’. This plan will be all about roads, bridges, and old-time power technology – no fast trains, no sustainable energy (though Elon Musk’s hoping for a piece of the pie). And it will be accompanied by what Trump’s Svengali, Stephen Bannon, calls ‘the destruction of the administrative state’, by which he means abolishing regulations and all forms of welfare or income redistribution.
Last week, Bannon himself announced that someone really is out to stop him and the President: it’s called The Deep State, and Bannon is in full fight mode to beat them back.
Deep State is now the label the American far-right hang on anyone who opposes the Trump-Bannon agenda. Republican Rep Steve King just told the New York Times, ‘we are talking about the emergence of a Deep State led by Barack Obama, and we should prevent [it].’
This is an extraordinary claim – that Obama heads up a conspiracy of civil servants, intelligence agents, judges, and dog-catchers, united to thwart Trump-the-brave-leader.
Meanwhile, the response of America’s upper crust has been even more extraordinary. Every media outlet with even a toe in the mainstream agrees that this is paranoid right-wing madness – that the term ‘deep state’ only applies to states like Turkey or Egypt, where the conspirators kill and incite wars to get their way.
In 2014, a former Canadian diplomat named Peter Dale Scott released a book called The American Deep State, which he described as ‘a second order of government, behind the public or constitutional state… partly institutionalised in non-accountable intelligence agencies like the CIA and NSA, but it also includes private corporations like Booz Allen Hamilton and SAIC, to which 70 per cent of [America’s] intelligence budgets are outsourced.’
Scott is not a right-wingnut, nor a left one. He is emphatically not a devotee of American Exceptionalism, which has a longstanding record of sending secret agents to assassinate people, and launching wars on false pretences to eliminate those who are opposed to American business or strategic interests.
Like most political labels, ‘Deep State’ means what the user wants it to mean.
Unfortunately, the deep truth here is that Trump and Bannon hate the Deep State because it’s not brutal enough; that’s why they rage against Clinton, the New York Times, Obama, and it’s also why Australia should do what Paul Keating said and stop tagging along with the new, more-brutal-than-ever, Exceptional State of America.