And the same can be said for the fuel that has powered the Trump administration’s greatest misdeeds: its annihilation of the administrative state, its rollback of protections for immigrants and the environment, and the systematic razing of social protections and guarantees. President Donald Trump may have been the figurehead behind all of this destruction, but we all know he wasn’t the person sitting at the Resolute Desk until the late hours, personally drawing up plans for deregulating industrial methane use or new asylum restrictions. No, this activity was powered by people like White House adviser Stephen Miller, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Attorney General Bill Barr, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Now that the Trump administration is getting ejected from the White House, these flunkies will probably spend some time cooling in the fuel pools of consulting, big law, and academia; perhaps, in time, they will fade somewhat from the public eye and our memories. But you can be assured that their capacity for harm is far from spent. As America prepares to inaugurate a new president, it can be easy now to dismiss these bad actors with a lusty “Good Riddance!” or marvel at the depths of their debasement and sycophancy to an inane and temperamental leader. Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering that to some of Trump’s underlings, the president was always more of a means to an end. We can take satisfaction in the fact that they won’t be getting four more years to wreak havoc, but if we’re not careful, they’ll be back, running for office themselves or glomming onto the campaigns of perhaps more competent despots.
THREE OTHER ARTICLES WORTH READING
“Wherever forests have not been mowed down, wherever the animal is recessed in their quiet protection, wherever the earth is not bereft of four-footed life—that to the white man is an ‘unbroken wilderness.’ But for us there was no wilderness, nature was not dangerous but hospitable, not forbidding but friendly. Our faith sought the harmony of man with his surroundings; the other sought the dominance of surroundings. For us, the world was full of beauty; for the other, it was a place to be endured until he went to another world. But we were wise. We knew that man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard.”
~~Chief Luther Standing Bear, Sicangu and Oglala Lakota
At Daily Kos on this date in 2011—The failure of Austerity:
The current fad is to declare that austerity, in the form of slashed budgets, slashed jobs, a slashed tax based and so on will magically produce the opposite of all those things, as wealthy benefactors rush in to spend all the new money you have given them, create jobs creating new products nobody can afford to buy, and, I don’t know, start rebuilding infrastructure out of the goodness of their hearts. It is never clear, and nor is it honest: it is predicated on the danger of the Scary Deficit Monster, who was not at all scary during the time he was being fed by these same politicians and think-tank prophets, but who, like any false god, just happens to hate all the same things that his worshippers do.
In this case, the Scary Deficit Monster hates helping unemployed people, hates regulations (regardless of whether or not they save money), hates government in every form save the military, and especially hates it when well-off citizens are asked to pay the same rates they did a few decades ago, back during the dark, nearly apocalyptic 1980s or 1990s. That is damn nuanced policy for a mindless, frothing Deficit Monster, but it is consistent: the Deficit Monster hates anything Democrats might want and just happens to love all the ideas of the Heritage Foundation, etc., etc. And why not? Even a Deficit Monster ought to love its mother.