Robert A. Levine 11-18-17
Though some analysts have called our time the Second Gilded Age, it is more appropriate to label it as the Age of Uncertainty. With Donald Trump in the White House, the direction the nation will take, both in terms of domestic issues and foreign affairs, is veiled in uncertainty. And with America’s path and policies unclear, the world as a whole must accommodate to a perplexing future. In fact, it is likely that even President-elect Trump is uncertain of where he will be taking America, as he has demonstrated frequent changes of mind on a host of issues. This includes political leanings and party affiliations, as in the past he was a large donor to the Democrats and supported abortion, gay rights, and Planned Parenthood. While it is unlikely he will return to these positions, he may shift his stances on some of the views that got him elected.
The nation has seen some of this already. Running as a populist and soliciting the votes of working men and women, Trump has populated the domestic posts in his cabinet with millionaires and billionaires whose ideas will do nothing to improve the lives of the working and middle classes. In all likelihood, they will make things more difficult for the Americans who formed Trump’s base, starting with the elimination of Obamacare and Tom Price’s plans for health care reform, which will undoubtedly make health care more expensive and take it away from some recipients.
There is also the opposition to a minimum wage and workplace regulations by the new Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder. Pudzer had been the CEO of two fast food companies who was against the regulations put in place for workers that increased their safety and expanded the rules for overtime pay. He has said that he is looking forward to replacing workers with automation, as machines never get sick, do not injure themselves on the job or sue the companies, do not ask for raises, and are always polite to customers.
Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary has been involved in pushing charter schools in Michigan. However, her ideas have not resulted in improved student test scores or educational success. She has also fought continuously with the Teacher’s Unions.
Trump himself has changed his mind on a number of issues. On the campaign trail, he was going to deport all undocumented immigrants. This has now morphed into those who have committed criminal offenses. He was also going to build a wall at America’s southern border which Mexico will pay for. Now it has become a fence that will be supplemented by electronic devices and aerial surveillance. From not allowing any Muslims into the country, he now has restricted it to Muslim nations harboring terrorists. It is uncertain how that will be determined.
There is also the bru-ha-ha over Trump’s bromance with Putin, with Russia previously America’s main adversary. No one is sure how this relationship will evolve. And America’s alliance as part of NATO that has been in place since WW II has been bad-mouthed by Trump, unsettling the other members. What does he intend to do with NATO?
And how will he handle the Middle East? His naming an Israeli hawk as ambassador may make it hard for any peace deal to be negotiated as more and more of the West Bank is absorbed into Israel and the embassy is moved to Jerusalem.
How about the trade pacts and trade deals that Trump has been so unhappy about? NAFTA may be renegotiated and the TPP seems dead for now (much to China’s delight). Will he slap tariffs on imported goods from manufacturers that left the country or those that get subsidies from their governments? The stock markets soared right after Trump was elected, believing that as a businessman, he would cut regulations and not do anything that would damage foreign trade. But can one be certain of the latter? The markets seem to have stabilized recently, even declining slightly.
Thus, we are in a period of uncertainty, where domestic, foreign, and economic policy is not yet clear to anyone, even President-elect Trump. America’s new leader is a man who frequently shifts directions and in the future, it is likely that he will take the world along for the roller-coaster ride.
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