Donald Trump does not always in every way appear to be the sharpest tool in the shed. Yet there is great wisdom to be found in some of his assumptions of stupidity on the part of the rest of us. If I act like a real jackass, he thinks, the media will give me tons of free airtime, and I’ll be nominated. If I pretend to oppose corrupt power, the Democrats will nominate the living embodiment of corrupt power, and I’ll be president. If I cut everything that everybody values out of the budget but move the money to the military, my spineless war-adoring opponents will tie one hand behind their backs before they even try to put up a fight.
Is he right about us? Here’s Richard Trumka, top labor leader in the United States, opposing Trump’s budget at length, without ever mentioning the existence of the U.S. military. Here’s the Sierra Club, top environmental group, doing the same. Here are 100 Christian “faith leaders” doing the same thing.
For all anyone hearing from these and countless other liberal organizations and interest groups outraged by particular budget cuts would know, the money being taken away from various agencies and departments is being put into mythical tax cuts. Despite the fact that Trump proposed the same sized budget as last year’s, with a huge amount of money moved from almost everywhere else into the military, his one-handed opponents are regurgitating their familiar old shouts of “no cuts!” which translate into many ears as “big gummint!”
A madman, who has just been handed the most expensive military ever to exist, is proposing to make it much larger, is drone-murdering at a pace to shame his predecessor, is proposing to launch a war on North Korea, has openly trumpeted practices of stealing oil and killing families, and unless he starts a nuclear war will kill far more people with his budget than with any weapons. But try finding opposition to war in the March for Science or the Women’s March. Only after a major public effort did we compel the People’s Climate March to mention a preference for peace over war.
Most of the Democrats in Congress, and even more so the media coverage of them, are following the same line as the liberal organizations. Schumer gives no indication that the military exists at all. Pelosi gives a brief nod to her desire that it remain somewhere around its current gargantuan size, pushing the idea that it’s good for us but that we wouldn’t want to have too much of that good. Sanders has a reasonable statement on his website, but news reports depict him as droning on about tax cuts for billionaires and cuts in services, as if that were what was happening here. Someone should ask Sanders to compare the wealth of U.S. billionaires to the size of U.S. military spending in a single year, and then in 10 years.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus, even if it does nothing other than good statements, cannot always be counted on even for that, but did come through this time and should be thanked and credited for it, as should Barbara Lee.
This disastrous budget may need 60 senators’ support. It may be doomed. It may offer a golden opportunity to educate the public on the tradeoffs between militarism and useful spending. But if the general run of the so-called opposition has its way, we will emerge from this process with much of the public imagining that a struggle exists between libertarians and socialists, that non-military programs are expensive, and that the military is free. Also that bipartisanship is extinct:
If we’re going to stop this disastrous trend, it’s going to take building up local pressure. Some cities are stepping in to lead.