Donald Trump is the shock jock of politics. Believing that any attention is better than no attention, he has spent his entire career spouting outrageous statements that provoke people and make headlines. Maybe just for once we shouldn’t fall for this distraction? It would be wiser to focus on who Trump is rather than his last ridiculous tweet. And that is a billionaire developer and the producer of a hit reality TV show. He manipulates the public with the same disdain as other business titans and producers of television shlock. He runs with an elite cosmopolitan crowd in New York and Florida, including the Clintons, that is by no means culturally conservative. While he has awoken and given legitimacy to a truly vile form of racism, sexism, and homophobia there is no sign he actually believes any of this in his personal life. He may yet crack down on the rights of women, gays, or religious minorities but so far he gives no sign of doing so. What he is doing, however, is consolidating the oligarchy Bernie Sanders tried (and is still trying) so hard to fight, and betraying the economic hopes of many of his (misguided) supporters.
Stop worrying about transgender bathrooms for a minute and take a look as his cabinet appointees. His pick for Labor Secretary, Andrew Putzer, is a fast food executive who opposes raising the minimum wage. His pick for the head of the EPA is Scott Pruitt, a climate change skeptic with close ties to the oil and gas industry. Tom Price (HUD), financier Wilbur Ross (Commerce Dept) and Ben Carson (HUD) all favor rolling back regulations that restrict the overreaches of business interests. He’s picked two Goldman Sachs veterans to oversee our economic future: Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary and Gary Cohn as Treasury Secretary.
This does not sound like “shaking things up” by anyone’s definition. What it sounds like is more of the same.
The other thing to pay close attention to is the fight for power within the Democratic Party. Anyone who thinks Clinton’s picks for these cabinet positions would have been radically better is deluded (witness her speeches to Goldman Sachs and pharmaceutical industries, the fact she has yet to take a position on the Dakota pipeline, the fact that her honorary campaign head Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a big promoter of the TPP, etc). Yet her wing of the party–after all the damage they’ve done, at this place they’ve led us to–are still desperately trying to hang onto power. Keith Ellison, Bernie Sander’s pick for head of the DNC has long fought for the rights of the 99%. He also happens to be black and a Muslim. Tulsi Gabbard, a two time Iraq War veteran quit her job as vice chair of the DNC to campaign tirelessly for Bernie Sanders. She is a rising influence in Congress and even met with Donald Trump to counsel him on foreign policy issues. She also happens to be a woman and a Hindu.
Let’s not let shock headlines and cultural differences distract us from what’s really important for all of us as Americans.