After last night's shocking action by House Republicans to gut the House Ethics Office, it is hard to know what to expect from the GOP itself in addition to support of Trump madness. Jay Michaelson gives us a glimpse of what we can expect from Trump himself. Prepare. Pressure your elected officials. Be strong and fight strong! 2018 will soon be here.
Looking toward 2017 can be overwhelming. The coming Trump administration presents so many potential risks, it's hard to know which to feel anxious about. When I feel overwhelmed, I find that it helps to make lists. Here, then, in a rough order of danger, but also grouped by category, are 50 things for American Jews to be worried about as the new administration takes shape.
National Security and International Affairs
1. Unprepared Amateurs in a Crisis. Surely the most dangerous aspect of the Trump presidency isn't what we know — it's what we don't know. What happens when the next terrorist attack takes place? Or the next belligerent move from Russia, China or North Korea? With ideologues and amateurs in charge of national security, the risk of war, even nuclear exchange, grows extremely high.
2. Poor Muslim Intelligence. Having alienated our former allies in the Muslim world and in the U.S. Muslim community, the United States has worse intelligence and more radicalized Islamists. The risk of a large-scale terror attack on our soil skyrockets.
3. Ceding Power to Russia. With America's retreat from the world stage, Russia gains power, influence and money. Human rights, democracy and the rule of law decline.
4. Ceding Power to China. With America's retreat from the world stage, China gains power. Same effects as No. 3.
5. Global Disorder. Trump's erratic behavior alienates our allies, destabilizes the world order and destroys American prestige (as has already begun to happen with his buffoonish phone calls with Taiwan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and the United Kingdom).
6. International Organizations Undermined. NATO and the United Nations are crippled. Israel suffers in particular, as its stalwart friend is undermined and ultranationalist Israeli policies leave few other allies.
7. War Crimes. Trump makes good on his promise to kill terrorists' families and is brought up on war crimes charges. In response, America pulls out of the International Criminal Court. The United States targets and murders innocent people.
8. Climate Change Accelerates. Its effects lead to violence and to further economic destabilization. Global agriculture is severely disrupted, and entire ecosystems wither.
9. Cowboy Diplomacy. With extremists running the executive branch, the United States engages in "cowboy diplomacy," including numerous military actions in the Middle East, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths and to a further destabilization of the region.
10. Decline of International Rule of Law. The United Nations is weakened as America undermines it and refuses to pay its dues. International rule of law declines to its lowest point since World War I.
11. The Islamic State Group Strengthens. With Assad in Syria, Russia's sphere of influence grows. The gains Iraq has made against the Islamic State group are lost when the United States alienates Iraq and others. Islamic State emerges stronger.
12. Israel Moves Away From Democracy. Israel passes a wave of anti-democratic measures, leading to the further emigration of its smartest, most productive citizens.
13. Nuclear Iran. With the Iran nuclear deal scuttled, Iran resumes development of nuclear weapons. This leads to a massive, deadly military exchange with the United States and/or Israel.
14. Global Intolerance. The State Department not only stops funding pro-women, pro-education, pro-human rights and pro-LGBTQ initiatives around the world, but also starts funding the exact opposite, channeling billions of federal dollars to hard-right Christian organizations.
15. Russian Machinations. It can't be ruled out that Russia had further interests in influencing the American election beyond having a weakened America. We don't know what these interests were.
DECLINE OF DEMOCRACY
16. Civil Liberties Are Discarded. Muslims and Mexicans are the primary targets, but the rule of law decays in America with summary deportation processes, decreased oversight from the Department of Justice, and legitimized stereotyping and scapegoating. [one more sentence about how?] Other minorities, including Jews, suffer from this overall decline.
17. Big Brother. All Americans are spied on, all the time. Per Newt Gingrich's recommendation, the Un-American Activities Committee is re-formed, targeting political opponents, liberals, etc.
18. First Amendment Is Redefined. Registries of Muslims are adopted, religious tests barring Muslims from entry, along with other anti-Muslim activities, erode the fundamental constitutional order of the United States and alienate our most important allies — moderates of all stripes, believers in modernity and the 88%? of Muslims who despise the fundamentalist terrorists — against terror.
19. Human Rights Nightmare. Deporting 3 million people is a human rights nightmare, especially for enrollees in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA participants were brought here as young children and gave their private information in exchange for deferred action on deportation. Now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement knows exactly where they are.
20. Social Permission for Discrimination. The "Trump Effect" leads to widespread "brownshirt" violence and discrimination against people of color, Muslims, women, LGBTQ people and Jews, among others. Rudeness, boorishness, chauvinism and vulgarity become even more commonplace, and often spill into physical attacks (as have already taken place).
21. White Supremacists in the Mainstream. The rise of the "alt-right" has unknown effects. At the very least, anti-Semitism and racism are mainstreamed.
22. Escalation of Invasive, Race-Based Policing. National stop-and-frisk and "law and order" policies cause a massive increase in police violence, leading to vicious rebellion by people of color, which in turn leads to further militarization of police, crackdowns across the country and an enormous spike in mass incarceration. Massive private prisons are built. Half of the country's young black men are in the criminal justice system. Many are dead.
23. Scapegoating the Fourth Estate. With the mainstream media no longer granted access to the White House, partisan, billionaire-funded yellow journalism such as Fox News and Breitbart supplant the "fourth estate." The press itself becomes regarded as the enemy, and standards of truth and fact-checking are disregarded. Transparency and the principles of government for the people are discarded.
24. Racial Disenfranchisement. Trump continues to baselessly allege voter fraud, leading to widespread disenfranchisement, particularly of people of color. The Republican Party seizes on voter suppression as a primary way to maintain power as a minority party.
25. Kleptocracy. As did his actual conflict of interests, Trump's potential kleptocracy goes unpunished. In addition to Trump's family siphoning off billions of dollars, American democracy becomes a banana republic in which kowtowing to the leader is de rigueur for anyone wishing to do business here.
26. De Facto Censorship. Trump continues to insult and assault artists, leading to de facto censorship.
27. Post-Truthiness. All of the foregoing and more lead to a retreat from truth and reasoned discourse, and to its replacement by a conservative relativism that denies science and the basic principles of truthful exposition.
28. Militarization of the Border. Trump's border policies are an abject failure, leading to further militarization of the border and to numerous incidents of deadly violence.
OTHER DOMESTIC ISSUES
29. Gun Violence. All gun control is banned across America, with a federal law taking precedence over local and state regulations and banning gun restrictions. Handgun violence and mass shootings skyrocket, amplifying calls for "law and order."
30. Drill, Baby, Drill. The "Drill, Baby, Drill" mantra becomes national policy. Devastating spills occur in the Gulf of Mexico and in the former Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Keystone XL and other mega-pipelines are built. America loses its edge in renewable technologies, enriching China. And, of course, climate change accelerates.
31. Pollution Reaches Unprecedented Levels. The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act are [repealed or unenforced] (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/08/scott-pruitt-trump-s-climate-denying-epa-pick-is-worse-than-you-think.html), and pollution reaches levels never before seen in America. The Environmental Protection Agency is dismantled from within by a "director" cherry-picked from the fossil fuel industry.
32. America's Wilderness Is Destroyed. America's vast open areas are turned into coal mines, forests are clear-cut and wilderness areas across the country are destroyed. The die-off of mass species spikes.
33. Unregulated Chemicals Cause Devastation. Generally modified organisms, pesticides and other newly unregulated technologies lead to unexpected devastation across the country.
34. Jim Crow Era Voter Restrictions. The Civil Rights Act is ignored, and African Americans have essentially no legal protections whatsoever. The Voting Rights Act is fully repealed, and we see a return to Jim Crow era restrictions on voting. Affirmative action is likewise repealed, of course.
35. Supreme Court Rollback. Another Supreme Court justice dies, and so Trump nominates two arch-conservatives who not only roll back Roe v. Wade and same-sex marriage, but also take a "strict" reading of the Commerce Clause and thus invalidate all civil rights laws, most environmental laws and the modern American state as we know it.
36. Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination Is Legalized, Funded. With the passage of the "First Amendment Defense Act," it becomes legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people across the country. Conversion therapy is offered in public schools.
37. Transgender Is Declared To Be Mental Illness. Anti-trans discrimination is formally legal, and violence against trans people skyrockets.
38. Church-State Barriers Are Dismantled. Led by Mike Pence, re-Christianization of America unfolds, [[can we flag the invention of this Christian America more than with ""s?] with billions of dollars flowing to conservative religious organizations, and the introduction "religious liberty" laws that enable anyone to discriminate or otherwise flout laws for religious reasons. Moralizers use intimidation, censorship and regulation to shut down "immoral" art and expression.
39. Gutting of Higher Education. Focusing on the nonissue of "political correctness" and "safe spaces," public university education is gutted. Liberal arts education particularly suffers. The American work force becomes dumber and less adaptable.
40. Gutting of Public Education. Under Betsy DeVos, federal funds for public education are rerouted to barely regulated sectarian private schools. Federal education curricula promote intelligent design, abstinence-only education and discredited pseudoscience on sexuality.
41. A Feudal Wealth Gap. With taxes slashed for the .01% richest Americans, the wealth gap balloons to levels unknown since feudalism. The depredations of the 1% look like a socialist paradise. Ironically, Trump's own working-class supporters lose the most.
42. Health Insurance Destroyed. With Obamacare repealed and replaced by private health accounts, millions become uninsured once again, and the health system becomes further stratified, resembling an airplane with a crowded coach class and an ever more opulent first class.
43. Organized Labor Participation and Wages Plummet. Union busters take over (or eliminate) the Department of Labor, destroying the institutions most responsible for the middle-class: labor unions. Wages fall across the country.
44. Dollar and Real Estate Collapse. With America retreating from the world stage, the dollar loses its status as reference currency, the New York real estate market crashes and trillions of dollars of wealth are wiped out, causing economic depression. (Low risk, but high damage.)
45. Trade War. Protectionist policies and a trade war with China devastate America's economy, and since the Trans-Pacific Partnership dies, China establishes economic dominance over the entire Pacific Rim. A U.S. depression quickly follows.
46. Risky Wall Street Speculation. Dodd Frank is repealed, which causes a new round of risk-taking and double-dealing on Wall Street, exacerbating the risk of a repeat of 2008. Wall Street wins big, and when the crash comes Wall Street wins big again, as in 2009. Everyone else loses worse than in 2008.
47. Economic Disorder. The Trump administration meddles with the Federal Reserve, causing financial panic.
48. Brain Drain. Immigration laws make it impossible for talented technology workers to come to the United States, leading to a massive brain drain for other countries.
49. Destruction of the Internet as We Know It. Net neutrality is discarded, leading to a monopolization of the internet by a small handful of companies. The internet as we know it is replaced by something that looks more like network television.
50. Creation of the U.S. Oligarchy. Giant monopolies, especially in finance, are allowed to be created through unregulated mega-mergers. Power is aggregated in a small handful of gigantic institutions. The United States becomes an oligarchy.
Jay Michaelson is a regular columnist for the Forward. This article is reprinted from The Forward, December 30, 2016
January 3, 2017