Donald Trump is now the 45th President of the United States and is by far the most right-wing president the US has ever elected. In many aspects of his presidency, progressives must gear up and be ready for vicious fights. Where Trump seeks to undo what little progress we have made, we will fight him. Trump, however, is not an easy figure to dissect. Trump’s rhetoric has also leaned left on certain issues, so should progressives oppose Donald Trump no matter what?
There are many issues to fight Trump on. He is appointing Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, an outspoken proponent of the War on Drugs and a racist. Trump is appointing Rick Perry to the department of energy, someone who doesn’t believe the department should exist. Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Education Secretary pick, is an extreme fundamentalist and doesn’t believe in public education. Trump is nominating Steve Mnuchin as Secretary of Treasury, a Goldman Sachs brain.
This is the most right-wing government in US history, certainly. Trump, however, is still a wild-card character. While his appointments are disgusting to say the least, he still sounds off populist rhetoric. This is odd behavior for a die-hard right-wing ideologue. Its a quagmire to be sure. Trump still claims to oppose the TPP and wants to begin a national infrastructure project. He also holds fairly non-interventionist rhetoric on foreign policy. The question here is if Trump pushes for something fairly progressive, do we work with him to get it done?
It’s a tough question obviously. It is highly possible that Trump might be completely disingenuous. He might drop all of his populist rhetoric. I wouldn’t be shocked if he did. But what if Trump did truly block TPP or propose an acceptable infrastructure bill? What if he truly maintains his non-interventionist stance? Aren’t these issues that progressives care about, even if slightly?
The problem stems from the mentality of “oppose Donald Trump no matter what.” No matter what is a pretty broad brush. If Trump supports something progressive, does that mean we have to oppose it by definition now? If Trump were to come out in favor of breathing, does that mean progressives should hold their breath? In no way should we extend Trump an olive branch. Policy does matter, however, before parties or spectrum identity. If the policy is not a bad one, why should we oppose Donald Trump?
One argument is that siding with Trump in any way normalizes racism and white supremacy. Sorry, this is not a rational argument. Many compare Trump to Hitler for this argument. Not that I’m against disparaging Adolf Hitler. He would probably roll over in his grave if he knew he was compared to someone like Donald Trump.
Trump has espoused racist rhetoric and has overlooked the amount of support he gets from white supremacists. He himself is not a neo-Nazi. Trump has no ideology. I could be wrong, but something tells me that the neo-Nazis and hard-line conservatives will be often disappointed with what they get with Trump. Trump barely even wants to be president, let alone prepare for another Final Solution.
It seems the same attitude that plagued the Republicans under Obama is now infecting the Democrats and people on the left. Oppose the other side at any cost. This attitude was stupid under Obama and would be stupid under Trump. It’s cutting your nose to spite the face. We oppose Trump where he needs to be opposed and there are many things to oppose him on.
If he ramps up the War on Drugs, repeal Obamacare, tries to cut Medicare/Medicaid, tries to destroy public schools, scrap labor rules and overtime pay, we will oppose him. The list goes on. Can we not, however, support him on an issue like TPP, infrastructure, perhaps even some aspect of foreign policy? Are we to be strapped down by partisan hackery as much as the right?
We are not Trump’s allies. If Trump truly seeks to destroy the progress we have made, he’s in for a long and dirty fight. Yet, if his interests do not conflict with ours on a given issue, why should we oppose him?