I could never figure out why Donald Trump would want to be president. He flummoxed me further when he stopped taking his daily national security briefings while Mike Pence is. Now, I get it. Trump wanted to win because he doesn’t care about running the country. He cares about winning, being the center of attention and making money.
My prediction is that Trump will be president in name only and Pence will run the policy. Trump will spend his days using the White House to make more money. Pence will have free reign to handle all the policy decisions.
This sounds paranoid but I have evidence. Look to the cabinet he is putting together. Trump said he did not want to privatize Medicare yet Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), the nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has adopted House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan, which does just that. Under Ryan’s plan, seniors will be given vouchers and left to fend for themselves. Trump also said he wanted a health care plan that let people with pre-existing health conditions stay on their insurance plan. Price has authored a replacement to Obamacare that specifically doesn’t have that.
Despite wanting to “Drain the Swamp,” all of the people that Trump has selected for top positions are Washington insiders whose political ideology mirrors Pence’s. From Reince Priebus to Senator Jeff Sessions and Congressman Tom Price, Trump is surrounding himself with people who are very comfortable working in the swamp known as Washington, DC. People point to his decision to include Steve Bannon in his inner circle as bringing in outsiders, but many don’t think Bannon is the outsider he claims to be. He has bragged that his website, Breitbart, was a “platform for the alt right” and some think he was using that to get himself into a position like the one he has now. Before he supported Trump, he was a big supporter of Sarah Palin. If Trump wants to “drain the swamp,” he needs to make some different choices.
Some other people Trump is putting forward show just how little he cares about policy. Palin has been floated to be the Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Some say this is because her “brand” has been linked to veterans because her son is a veteran and Trump is very interested in appearances and brands. Similarly, Ben Carson, who admitted he is not qualified to run an agency when he turned down the Health and Human Services slot, was just tappned to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. No, a team of rivals this is not. Trump may not care about policy but Pence does. He will be expected to pick up a lot of the pieces.
This also explains how Pence, a staunch conservative who is deeply religious and believes we should spend money on gay conversion therapy, could stand by when tapes emerged of Trump talking about assaulting women and watching 16 year-old girls change before his pageants. He was loyal because he knew it would be worth it.
For Trump’s part, he has told many people that he can have whatever conflict of interest that he wants. While he is not taking his security briefing, he is spending his days talking to dozens of world leaders. From having his daughter, Ivanka, in the meeting with the Japanese prime minister to hawking his hotels from government servers (and every stop along the campaign trail) he is showing already that he cares more about making money than policy.
As for his need for attention, that’s what the tweets are all about. Trump’s need for attention and a scary view into the only government talk he will care about; silencing his political critics. At rallies he talked about beating up protesters and “shutting down parts of the internet,” and in tweets he muses about stripping the citizenship of flag burners. And if you add in his admiration of Vladimir Putin, he doesn’t want to be president, he wants to be King.
Trump’s actions and statements have already sent one company out of the country. The Way Back Machine, the site that was basically the library of the internet, has said it does not feel safe here anymore.
“On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change,” the Internet Archive’s blog post reads. “It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change. For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a Web that may face greater restrictions. It means serving patrons in a world in which government surveillance is not going away; indeed it looks like it will increase.”
If I am wrong, there will be vigorous debates about the future of health care and Medicare reform. If I am right, both will sail through the House of Representatives and only be stopped by a filibuster.
I hope I am wrong.
Featured Image by Gage Skidmore, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons