Per the Washington Post article, in his next term, He Who Shall Not Be Named (Trump) wants to:
- Execute drug dealers
- Move homeless people to outlying ‘tent cities’
- Deploy federal forces against crime, unrest and protests
- Strip job protections for federal workers
- Eliminate the Education Department
- Restrict voting to one day using paper ballots
First, I had a bit of a chuckle then it occurred to me that he probably really believes this and the smile really fell right off of my face after realizing that most of his followers also believe it is a good idea.
Not only are these points awful from a policy perspective but they are each an insidious part of his plan to not only rile up his base but to eliminate resistance and focus power in his hands.
Let's look a little deeper at each point and dive into the subsequent effects of these "policies".
Execute drug dealers - his thought (probably from a hero movie he watched) is that permanently removing drug dealers from the gene pool will stop the drug problem and win the drug war. First, who is a drug dealer ? Is it a someone who sells or gives any amount of illegal substances to another person ? What about the mother who gives one of her Xanax tabs to a family member because of a panic attack ? This may be illegal because the mother does not have the statutory authority to prescribe or dispense medications even if the medication is legal. What about the teenager who gives a spray can to a friend so they can "huff" together. The spray can is legal. What about the CEOs of pharmaceutical companies and all of their employees, associated vendors, pharmacists and healthcare providers that may have wittingly or unwittingly contributed to the opioid crisis ? Should we start lobbing cruise missiles at cartel workers and leaders in different countries ?
There are also many current problems with the death penalty. There is that pesky moral issue but the GOP does not seem to have any problem being pro-life and saving a fetus but at the same time putting the health of the mother in jeopardy and being pro-death penalty. The effectiveness of the death penalty has also been suspect in deterring crime. The death penalty is also used disproportionately higher when the victim was white and if the offender is black. An average of nearly 4 wrongly convicted death row prisoners have been exonerated of their "crimes" each year since 1973.
What about the mentally ill or those who cannot afford good legal representation ? What about due process ?
What about treating the demand side of the equation ? This may require thinking about poverty, discrimination, mental illness, and many other intertwined social issues but the GOP wants a simple one size fits all solution.
As you can see just executing drug dealers is not a simple or as effective solution as he thinks.
Move homeless people to outlying ‘tent cities’ - There are many causes of homelessness with the most common being insufficient income (related to low paying jobs or unemployment), lack of affordable housing, foreclosures, domestic violence (mainly women), mental illness, substance abuse and even being a veteran is a risk factor.
There was a 61% increase in homelessness associated with the great recession of 2008 related to unemployment and foreclosures and many were renters. Today, more people are renting and national corporate entities are buying up housing, rental units and even mobile home parks at a rapid rate resulting in increasingly expensive rental properties.
It is estimated that 58% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. This means that any insult to their financial status (recession, inflation, car problems, job loss, increase in rent, medical problems, etc) could easily shift that person into homelessness.
Moving all of these homeless people to outlying tent cities is logistically impossible and does not actually solve ANY of the underlying causes and problems. How would these people get food and water and sewer and other bare necessities if no infrastructure or transportation is nearby. How are they to maintain employment with these increased barriers. The poverty of these individuals may even get worse with no support. Permanent poverty but at least they are out of site, out of mind.
If you wish to help with homelessness and those affected by domestic violence in the Staunton Virginia Area, please consider these two organizations - Valley Mission (services for homelessness) and New Directions Center, Inc. (non-profit services for those affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and stalking).
Deploy federal forces against crime, unrest and protests - every authoritarian needs a personal army to stop the "enemy" from taking over America. Also, someone has to execute the drug dealers and mind the polls to stop ballot fraud ! Wait a minute ! I am confused about the GOP position on law enforcement. First there was "back the blue" and mocking BLM for "defund the police" (misinterpreted by the GOP). Now there is "Defund the FBI". I don't remember the last time we had civil unrest in Staunton.
Strip job protections for federal workers - any government has to be knowledge and expertise based in order to make the best recommendations to establish the best policies for the benefit of all. This knowledge expertise requires a stable of professional career civil servants (e.g. scientists like Dr Fauci and other professionals in a wide variety of fields such as health, engineering, climate, law, etc) in order to guide knowledge and policy over time. Think about NASA and the massive scientific and private sector contributions in the past 60 years. NASA is expensive but the benefits to knowledge and technology that has transformed the economy and has shaped our vision of the future cannot be overstated.
So what will happen if job protections disappear for federal workers (or anyone for that matter) ? Job security has been declining for decades and so have some protections from Unions and laws (think Right to Work states). Gradually, many of the expert civil servants would have to move to other employment away from government employment and they will not be replaced (either due to the difficulty of finding a replacement for a highly skilled knowledge worker or a deliberate intent to NOT replace that skill).
This video from The Lincoln Project that explains what would happen if Arizona Fired the Feds !
The GOP has a more insidious reason for destroying a knowledge and skill based government civil service. We have seen how much damage Trump's political appointees have done throughout the government (think about the Covid pandemic and the response). We also have seen how dedicated civil servants have literally saved democracy from Trumpist fascism (think about how many of them testified before the J6 Committee). That combined knowledge, expertise and professionalism is the best long term and stable defense against conspiracy theories and GOP disinformation campaigns (e.g. Steve Bannon's strategy to flood the world with so much false information to overwhelm and diminish any truth that is available). What has been the best defense against the claim that climate change is a hoax ?
As the Washington Post elegantly states "Comparing nonpolitical civil servants to swamp dwellers, as he [Trump] also did during his first presidential campaign, set the stage for a Trump executive order that would have stripped workplace protections from thousands of civil servants by allowing them to be fired at will. President Biden quickly rescinded Trump’s order, which would have created a “Schedule F” employment category, but Trump and his people don’t want it to die. Axios recently reported that a Trump ally estimated 50,000 workers could be lumped into the category if he takes office again.
The civil service is designed to protect not just public servants, but also the public from a politicized bureaucracy that plays partisan favorites. “Imagine if scientific reports, food safety inspection results or common financial reporting regulations could be swept aside because they were politically inconvenient,” said Teresa W. Gerton, president and CEO of the National Academy of Public Administration, a congressionally chartered nonpartisan think tank. “How much further would trust fall?”
Eliminate the Education Department - this idea has circulated among conservatives for a while (Reagan proposed dismantling the DOE and the Department of Energy in 1980).
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) introduced the bill in February 2021 with co-sponsors including Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) (What an illustrious group of co-sponsors).
Former DOE Secretary also favors elimination stating “I fight against anyone who would have government be the parent to everyone."
Massie in the press release notes that the states and localities should be in charge of education and that "Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development."
Just a few problems with all of this:
How is Virginia going to pay for the missing federal K12 funds which amount to $1,169,844,000, or $907 per pupil ?
With Republican control of the Staunton City Council, we have needed a "Fully Fund Staunton Schools" movement and talk about reinstating WRE.
Do we really think that Republicans can magically reduce taxes, make up for the missing federal education spending, improve schools and pay for parent choices to send their kids to more expensive private or charter schools ?
Restrict voting to one day using paper ballots - more electoral subversion and voter suppression. There has been NO evidence that there is widespread or even more that minuscule amounts of voter fraud to make this necessary. For more information please see my blog post "Vote like your pants are on fire !"
Conclusion: The GOP does not really have an agenda to take America forward. Simpleton slogans and one line legislative proposals are not a solution to very complex problems.