In watching Donald Trump’s choices for different roles in his cabinet and other offices, I couldn’t help thinking this is like watching him casting the pilot for his new show called “Political Apprentice.” It is like Trump has been making choices based on who would create the most drama to keep the show continually interesting, and if we end up with World War III, well, that will be even more exciting. Because in drama, you want the stakes as high as possible to keep the audience even more engaged. And what better emotions to get even more audience involvement than anger and fear.
For example, consider some of Trump’s recent appointments. Retired LT. General Mike Flynn, selected as National Security Adviser, was the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency for 2 years, but he was fired in 2014 because of concerns about his disruptive management style, and he has expressed an eagerness to go to war against enemies. Trump is seriously considering Ben Carson, for Secretary of Housing, although Carson retired as a surgeon, has no experience with the housing industry, and ran a sleepy lackluster presidential campaign ― and at one point Carson declined becoming surgeon general, since he had no experience in government. Another selection is billionaire Republican Activist Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education when she has no education degree or teaching experience, never worked in public education, never attended public school or a state university, and never put her kids in public schools, only in private schools. In fact, Travis Waldron and Daniel Marans, Huffington Post reporters, have suggested that “Donald Trump’s Cabinet Is on Track to be the Least Experienced in Modern History.”
Trump has also selected Steve Bannon, best known for running Breitbart and advocating the alt-right platform based on the white nationalist agenda, for Chief Strategist. And for Attorney General he tapped Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who is well known as a hardliner against immigration, a military hawk who once voted against an amendment banning cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of prisoners; a skeptic of climate change; and he has been accused of being a racist. Plus Trump has been considering bringing in his son-in-law Jared Kushner as a White House adviser, though Kushner, who ran his family’s real estate business, has no previous political experience. Trump also has involved his daughter Ivanka, who played a prominent role in Celebrity Apprentice, in hhigh-levelmeetings with foreign officials, such as the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.
I could go on and on listing others tapped for key positions, but you get the idea. These are great choices for casting an exciting season of a new show called Political Apprentice, where part of the excitement is wondering what nutty outrageous thing each person will do, as well as who will be ceremoniously fired in the board room – now the Oval Office ― each week. Perhaps starting World War III might even be a fitting capper for the season, since it will leave everyone wondering what can possibly come next after Trump punches the nuclear codes button instead of sending out a late-night tweet. The ensuing nuclear explosion might even have the same action-adventure box office appeal, like one of the growing number of apocalypse movies and TV shows, in which the U.S. or world is destroyed and the chosen few get to rebuild society. In fact, since 2010, this global destruction has been a popular theme in movies such as Last Day on Earth, Battle: Los Angeles, Extinction, Goodbye World, The Maze Runner, Oblivion, I Am Legend, World War Z – and many many more.
Moreover, just think of the recent plot twists, as Trump has gone back on a series of promises that were fed to his largely white lower-income Rust Belt audience, like red meat to the howling dogs. Let me count the ways. First there was the promise to launch an investigation and prosecute Hillary Clinton, leading to the chants of “Lock Her Up!” that energized the crowds at Trump’s rallies and inspired a T-Shirt industry with images of Hillary behind bars. Now Trump has said that would be too divisive and so he has backpedaled on that, although with her campaign’s recent involvement in Jill Stein’s vote recount efforts, maybe he’s changing his mind and may urge prosecuting her after all.
Then, there was Trump’s promise to deport 11 million illegal immigrants and build a wall that Mexico would pay for. Well, the numbers have shrunk to perhaps 2 to 3 million immigrants who have been convicted of a crime, and the wall has turned into a fence or area patrolled by drones along some parts of the border. And will Mexico pay? Well, not so much or maybe not at all.
Oh, and then there is that promise to bring jobs back to coal country and other backwater areas of the country. That may not happen either, because big companies are going to continue to outsource jobs; new high tech jobs can’t employ unskilled workers; and the trade wars resulting from new economic policies are expected to reduce jobs and perhaps contribute to the next Great Recession. And when low-income workers – or unemployed workers as the case may be – find they are losing their social security, health benefits, and access to public education, given some recently proposed policies, they may soon discover, as some commentators have suggested, that they have fallen for Trump’s latest scam.
Meanwhile, the policies Trump is advocating will make the rich very happy, as well as line his own businesses, now that he has declared that Presidents can’t have conflicts of interest and don’t have to set up blind trusts. So he thinks it is fine for his daughter and sons to run his business, or for Ivanka to sit in on his meetings with foreign leaders, such as a recent meeting with officials from Japan. Trump may have criticized Clinton for her contacts with high level officials who contributed to the Clinton Foundation, presumably because they were getting advantages since she was Secretary of State. But then, since she wasn’t President (or President-elect), she wasn’t supposed to make such quid pro quo arrangements. But if a President makes them, according to Trump’s claim that a president can’t have a conflict of interest, that’s fine. Thus, if he gets millions for housing Secret Service agents in his Trump tower or encourages foreign dignitaries to stay in his Washington hotel, that’s fine.
As for Trump’s proposed policies, they seem sure to make both the rich and establishment Republicans very happy – such as lower taxes for the wealthy and big corporations, reduced government spending by eliminating departments like the Department of Education, and eliminating or reducing payments for Social Security and Medicare. Plus there will be fewer regulations on business, and many functions formerly performed by government will be privatized, such as building the infrastructure of America. No wonder stocks rebounded for certain industries, such as pharmaceuticals and banks, while most of the high tech industry, which opposed Trump, is suffering.
Yes, revenge is sweet, as he once told Richard Branson, head of Virgin Airways, that he was determined to get payback and revenge on those who harmed him – which is probably about half of the country who voted against him. And, of course, any revenge will make for exciting drama in the weekly Political Apprentice series that will continue running for four years, unless, of course, the network – whoops, the political powers that be, decide to cancel it, say by firing – uh, impeaching ― the President or deciding he is unfit for office and unable to perform his official duties.
Meanwhile, the country is in for an exciting tumultuous ride as each week of Political Apprentice unfolds with a new twist and turn in the plot. What will happen next? An enthralled and often wary country awaits the outcome.
Gini Graham Scott, PhD, writes frequently about social trends and everyday life. She is the author of over 50 books with major publishers and has published over 40 books through her company Changemakers Publishing and Writing. She writes books and proposals for clients and has written and produced over 50 short videos through Changemakers Productions and is a partner in a service that connects writers to publishers, agents, and the film industry. Her latest books include: Turn Your Dreams Into Reality, The New Middle Ages, Scammed, and Lies and Liars: How and Why Sociopaths Lie and How to Detect and Deal With Them.