Trump, The Cabinet, and the Purse-Strings of Power

***Warning: unapologetic speculation follows***

More than two months after Donald Trump’s electoral victory, many who did not vote for him are still in ‘Chicken Little’ mode, with social media commentators frequently inveighing against the impending disintegration of the United States, sandwiched as they are between the antithetical inexperience of the incoming ruling elite (Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, Scott Pruitt, Tom Price: looking at you – and your boss), and the abject ignorance of those they see as having cast their vote from some dank recess of the 14th century.

This is perhaps a tad melodramatic, and there is little value in lamenting the inevitable; there is a world of difference between ungraciously being told to “suck it up, buttercup” (usually and irritatingly by someone who voted for Trump), and making a concerted effort to power through the fourth stage of grief instead of wallowing there, and moving on to the fifth.* It’s better to face the future full-on, having retained the lessons of the past but discarded its distractions. (And if you happen to be one of the fortunate ones who maintain “Well I can do both,” then bully for you.)

It seems to me that the undoing of the US would not be in the interests of those who wish to derive as much profit from it for as long as possible. In such a scenario, I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump’s policy picks are every bit the attention-drawing puppets that he is.

If you want to control the purse-strings of power, the very last thing on Earth you want or need is an educated electorate (something I briefly bemoaned in a previous blog post), or agency heads who – heaven forfend – have any knowledge of their respective agencies. The mr-moneybagslatter state of affairs has been spelled out recently and in wince-inducing fashion, even for the most hermetically self-delusional among us. (Enter any of the nominees above plus ‘confirmation hearing’ into YouTube, and prepare to be psychologically lobotomised by the epic inadequacy.)

In effect, what we’re seeing here is the logical contrapositive of founding father Thomas Jefferson’s famous dictum, that “the cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate”, and which, with apologies, can be phrased roughly as follows:

An ignorant electorate is the bedrock of a thriving autocracy.

While we all react to Trump’s mentally disordered idiocy on Twitter, and to the unrivalled unsuitability of his cabinet picks, I would love to know what’s going on behind the scenes. You know, in that room behind the veil, where the oligarchs and the serious politicians confer. It may be small comfort, but at current rates, Trump will be too busy pursuing real and imagined vendettas on Twitter to get anywhere close to ruining the country. While the dramatis personae draw fire and ire and monopolise our attention with their grotesqueries, spare a thought for the more level-headed and low-profile powers behind the throne. I think these are the ones to watch.

I leave you with the words of Austrian playwright and satirist, Karl Kraus, and ask: who are the audience?

quote-the-secret-of-the-demagogue-is-to-make-himself-as-stupid-as-his-audience-so-they-believe-karl-kraus-89-20-61


* denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance

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