Subversion, Trump style
When I was young, the word “subversion” was bandied about and used to describe the threat of an insidious conspiracy to undermine our constitution and our democratic institutions. Evil forces, we were told, would infiltrate our government and corrupt and sabotage it from within. These forces would not be operating under any sort of popular mandate, but would insinuate themselves into our public life stealthily, without revealing their true agenda. Once in positions of power, they would obey their true masters and undermine the very agencies they were charged with administering. Thousands of people were fired, blacklisted, and persecuted because of the fear of this subversion. Many politicians made careers out of their vigilance and their uncompromising stands against this threat. But now this threat has become reality. It is more insidious than we once feared, however, as it is not directed by a foreign power, or in service to an alternative political philosophy.
This state of affairs is summed up nicely by our new President’s appointment to the National Security Council, possibly the most influential of his circle of advisers, Steve Bannon. “I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment,” Bannon has said. I can see old Joe McCarthy (redbaiting senator, who led the prosecution of suspected communists in the late ‘50s) rolling in his grave, especially after Bannon’s admission that he is taking after Lenin in his approach to wielding power.
He is not the only one. Every one of the new cabinet appointments, the people who are charged with the administration of government functions, is on record for having expressed opposition to the mission of the office to which they have been appointed. Rick Perry has explicitly stated that the Department of Energy, of which he is now in charge, should be abolished. Betsy DeVos, the new head of the Department of Education, is strongly opposed to public education. Scott Pruitt, the new Environmental Protection Agency head, makes no secret of his intention to dismantle it completely. Furthermore, the new Republican leadership is now pushing to cut funding for Medicare, as well as privatizing Social Security. While I’m sure there are people who support these positions, they are in a minority of the minority who voted for the present administration. During the campaign, it was promised that these popular programs would continue. Clearly many people who voted for the current president, were misled by these promises.
The fact is, the current administration has no popular mandate, despite their defensive and unconvincing assertions to the contrary. Their agenda is not conservative in the least; it is radical, reactionary, and more to the point, subversive.