Trump Can’t Follow Through on His Promises—And Will Need A Scapegoat

The more he fails to deliver on his economic pledges, the more he’ll try to shift the blame.

Terry J. Allen December 9, 2016

Gambling on the future in Trump Casino. (Terry J. Allen)

What hap­pens when Trump will not, can­not, deliv­er on his core promis­es? And it is only a mat­ter of time.

Trump will try to use the rabid along with the marginalized as storm troopers in a war against those he will scapegoat for denying or thwarting his success and snatching away his promised Great America.

One sce­nario is that his sup­port­ers will wake up and real­ize that they have been screwed again — not just by the usu­al sys­tem the rich and pow­er­ful have rigged against them, but also by a greedy con man who played and betrayed them. And they will turn on him.

Sad­ly, a more like­ly sce­nario is that Trump will fol­low his estab­lished pat­tern: bedaz­zling sup­port­ers with a plat­ter of razzmatazz and a side of scape­goat. When­ev­er he aban­dons or evis­cer­ates a promised pro­gram or pol­i­cy, when­ev­er news is bad, Trump will be Trump. He will out­right lie (“I nev­er promised that,” I did deliv­er,” or It was just cam­paign room talk”) and at the same time (log­ic was nev­er his strong suit), he will blame any fail­ure on the usu­al ene­mies — the media, Democ­rats, Mus­lims, minori­ties, pro­fes­sion­al pro­test­ers,” immi­grants, nasty women, Mex­i­can rapists, rude Broad­way per­form­ers, etc.

When he wants a switch up from domes­tic fall guys, he can grab the time-test­ed path of gin­ning up a war, or scar­ing the beje­sus out of the pop­u­lace by hyp­ing the immi­nent threat of free­dom-hat­ing ter­ror­ists lurk­ing under America’s bed.

That most of Trump’s plat­form is built of smoke, mir­rors, and bull­shit will become increas­ing­ly appar­ent as it smacks up against hard real­i­ty. Some of his promis­es are sim­ply impos­si­ble to real­ize: He can­not bring back coal min­ing or cre­ate mil­lions of U.S. man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs that pro­vide under-skilled work­ers with a tick­et into the mid­dle class. He can­not restore the god-giv­en enti­tle­ment and priv­i­leges white men still hold as their due. He can­not cre­ate afford­able health care with­in a mar­ket sys­tem or build a 2,000 mile long wall on Mex­i­co’s dime. Even aid­ed by res­ur­rect­ed pol­i­cy zom­bies like Newt Gin­grich and Rudy Giu­liani, he can­not turn back the clock to the 1950s. Nor can he erase the fact that the hal­cy­on past for which he pines rest­ed on the exclu­sion and sub­ju­ga­tion of non-whites and women. Words and wish­ing will not make Amer­i­ca white again.

And then there is the heap­ing por­tion of Trump’s fan­tas­ti­cal promis­es that fun­da­men­tal­ly con­flict with his inter­ests and those of his nat­ur­al allies: the mon­eyed class which quick­ly fig­ured out that it has a friend, albeit an uncouth one, in Trump. The export of fac­to­ries and jobs from low-wage coun­tries the can­di­date so deplored is essen­tial to the cor­po­rate bot­tom line, as is the import of cheap for­eign goods, such as the low-cost Chi­nese steel Trump famous­ly used. The mass expul­sion of 11 mil­lion undoc­u­ment­ed work­ers is not only logis­ti­cal­ly and finan­cial­ly pre­clud­ed by real­i­ty, but it would throw into chaos such indus­tries as farm­ing, con­struc­tion, leisure, ser­vice, and low-skilled health care. As for drain­ing the Wash­ing­ton swamp of cor­po­rate lob­by­ists, one of the nascent Trump administration’s first moves is anoint­ing a phthisic coterie of cor­po­rate shills and whores.

Sure, there will be some high-pro­file reform bones thrown to the hun­gry-for-change mass­es, but these will nev­er fill the chasm of income inequal­i­ty or reknit the safe­ty net that was already too shred­ded to sup­port the poor, the elder­ly and the work­ing class. And sure, it will take time before his sup­port­ers feel the effects of trick­le down tax­a­tion and the evis­cer­a­tion of reg­u­la­tions that pro­tect our envi­ron­ment, food safe­ty, health stan­dards, and rights.

But even­tu­al­ly, the stink of failed promis­es will add to the mias­ma of fraud and decep­tion and that sur­round Trump. And there­in lies the dan­ger: At the first sign that his base is grow­ing rest­less and dis­il­lu­sioned, that they start under­stand­ing that they were used and betrayed, Trump will need to seduce them fur­ther down the rab­bit hole of his delu­sions — chief among them that he gives a rat’s ass for the peo­ple he claims to champion.

He will dis­tract with red meat — most often sliced from the bod­ies of his des­ig­nat­ed ene­mies. The more Trump fails to deliv­er, the more he will need to rouse and ral­ly his sup­port­ers. They include use­ful racist min­ions and sex­ist bul­lies, but also Amer­i­ca’s pris­on­ers of low incomes and sta­tus and the mil­lions cling­ing des­per­ate­ly to hope of liv­ing, or see­ing their chil­dren live, the Amer­i­can dream. Trump will try to use the rabid along with the mar­gin­al­ized as storm troop­ers in a war against those he will scape­goat for deny­ing or thwart­ing his suc­cess and snatch­ing away his promised Great America.

What’s to be done? Well, sign­ing peti­tions from the com­fort of a couch is always an option. Then again, some peo­ple pre­fer the only thing that has ever worked: orga­nize, edu­cate, take off the gloves and fight like hell back.

Ter­ry J. Allen is a vet­er­an inves­tiga­tive reporter/​editor who has cov­ered local and inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics and health and sci­ence issues. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, Boston Globe, Times Argus, Harper’s, the Nation​.com, Salon​.com, and New Sci­en­tist . She has been an edi­tor at Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al, In These Times , and Cor​p​watch​.com. She is also a pho­tog­ra­ph­er. Her por­traits of peo­ple sit­ting in some of the 1900 cars lined up out­side a New­port, Vt., food drop can be seen on www​.flickr​.com/​p​h​o​t​o​s​/​t​e​r​r​y​a​l​l​e​n​/​a​lbums. Ter­ry can be con­tact­ed at tallen@​igc.​org or through www​.ter​ry​jallen​.com.
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