Alan Zendell, May 31, 2017
The problem with stirring up a huge, angry and largely uninformed base with political rhetoric and lies is that you have to keep lying to avoid losing them. Oh, they’ll catch on eventually when it’s clear that the results they were promised will never materialize, but that’s a problem for later, and if he’s anything, President Trump is someone who focuses on the daily news cycle.
Perhaps the biggest and most dangerous lie of the 2016 election campaign was Trump’s oft-repeated claim that climate change is a hoax. We know it was a lie for several reasons. First, Trump is not a religious, anti-science creationist. Second, whatever you may think of him, he’s not stupid. But the convincing evidence is that that particular lie meshed so perfectly with Trump’s campaign of pandering to ignorance.
He knew he was lying when he promised to bring all those coal-mining jobs back to Kentucky and West Virginia. Most economists know that while coal may still have a small place in our energy future, it will never compete with natural gas for efficiency and environmental friendliness. And whatever coal we produce in the future will largely be mined by automated machinery and robots, not miners risking lung disease. Mitch McConnell understands that, yet he was one of the senators who urged Trump to perpetuate the lie.
Apparently, the economists in Trump’s White House know it too, so the decision to withdraw from the Paris Accords can only mean that with Jared Kushner and his wife laying low for the moment, Steve Bannon is once again on the ascendancy. That may explain how the internal battle in the White House turned out this way, but not why Trump was willing to infuriate the other 190 signatories to the Accords, among whom are counted our closest allies. Is this just Trump doubling down on his tough-guy act? Will he never grow up?
Most of the educated world understands that this latest example of out-of-control irrational Trumpism is incredibly dangerous. Despite Trump’s dwindling hard-core support, we are not an isolationist country, and the last time I looked most Americans weren’t going out of their way to give the rest of the world the finger. They also weren’t willing to gamble their grandchildren’s future on political opportunism. They’re still not and neither am I.
Reversing decades of meager progress in attempting to slow down and mitigate the effects of climate change is criminally irresponsible. Combined with the way Trump trashed NATO in Brussels, last week, it’s certain that we will pay a heavy price both in terms of prestige and trade. Unless we the people force this to change quickly, Trump’s naivete about how the world works could haunt us for decades. The irony of that is that the people who suffer most will be the workers who lose their jobs because there is no export market for their products. When they ultimately turn on the man who did that to them, the rest of us will derive no satisfaction from seeing him go down. Not that we wouldn’t love to, but we’ll be too busy picking up the pieces and teaching our grandkids how to fasten their breathing masks.
I’ve tried not to let my anger come through on most of the posts on this blog, but I literally cannot find the words to express my fury and concern now. When Stephen Moore, the reactionary economist who has been whispering about the Paris Accords in Trump’s ear since the campaign began finally had to concede that the 43,000 jobs he predicted would return to coal-mining country would actually amount to about 1,300, all he had to say was, “That’s a lot less than 43,000” (http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/31/news/economy/trump-coal-jobs/index.html?iid=hp-toplead-dom).
This action is an outrageous kick in the teeth to the majority of Americans who understand that climate change is the greatest threat to future generations. You know all those immigrants Trump rails about who steal our jobs and want to bring down our democracy? What all those people have in common is a willingness to sacrifice their own comfort for the sake of their children. Perhaps that’s why their children continue to excel, while our own keep slipping backward relative to the rest of the world. Wake up and smell the flowers, Donald, while they’re still there to smell.
The president has the legal right to lead us down this path, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fight him on it. There are enough people in Congress who see things the right way to affect this decision, but they need to hear from all of us if we expect them to act.