Tim Jones analyses the Trump Administration through the lens of the ‘id’. Will the super-ego keep them in check? Will Americans accept rule by kleptocrats and oligarchs?
HBO’s Bill Maher once described Donald Trump as ‘id’. That is, Latin for ‘it’. In Freudian terms, the unfiltered, raw and animalistic side to the human being. This is usually kept in check by the super ego. That is, the rules, prohibitions and inhibitions which prevent id based action – the conscience if you will.
This post refers not to Mr Trump’s personality, but to his administration as a whole. They have come to represent, in microcosm, many of the problems present within the American political system today. The Trump Administration represents the id of the hypocritical, corrupt, self-interested oligarchy that America has become.
Networks Don’t Rock the Boat
We start with the media. There has always been a tacit understanding between politicians and the media. The networks don’t rock the boat (read don’t do journalism) and in exchange they get access to the politicians. Were they to do real journalism, as Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski did to Debbie Wasserman Schultz during the campaign, threats could be made, as Schultz did, to talk to their boss if they didn’t tow the line. Trump has taken this tacit understanding one step further, with Kellyanne Conway, or, if you prefer her official title, Propaganda Barbie. Conway said that Trump surrogates would not appear on networks that did not ‘promote’ his agenda. Schultz may have threatened the media with blowback if they did not tow the line, but Propaganda Barbie threatened access to representatives of the Trump Administration.
This was a tacit understanding, the networks don’t rock the boat and they get access. But the Trump Administration, in its id, lacks the subtlety to keep it that way. In their brazenness, they have, intentionally or otherwise, exposed the corruption and the symbiotic relationship that exists between politicians and the media.
With a Little Help To My Friends
We now turn to policy, legislation and advisors. At a recent press conference about the undermining and eventual destruction of the weak and ineffectual Dodd-Frank Financial Reform bill, the President let two gems slip. This was, again intentionally or not, lay the game bare on the corruption, self-interest and symbiosis that exists between the US government and big business.
To quote the President, from CNBC
We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank because frankly, I have so many people, friends of mine that had nice businesses, they can’t borrow money.
There has long been a suspicion that US politicians have governed in both their own and their friends’/donors interests. But not one of them, even the often derided Mr. Bush, would ever have said it. President Trump just openly admitted that he was undertaking policy in the interests of his friends. Here, again, we see it – id – no filter at all. Policy (admittedly weak) that benefited the majority, is to be done away with to benefit a tiny fraction of the population. If America were not an oligarchy before, it certainly is now.
In that same press conference, Trump said that he had been advised on financial regulation and related matters by Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase. Indeed the President said there was ‘nobody better’ to advise him on such issues. Foxes guarding the hen-house, anyone? We see it here yet again: the public acknowledgement of the power and influence of special interests. No filter – the fox is advising me on how to protect the hens.
Finally, consider some of Mr. Trump’s Cabinet appointees: from Mr. Perry at Energy, to Mrs. DeVos at Education (who, through ‘campaign contributions’ – read bribes – quite literally bought her position), to Mr. Pruitt at the EPA. These people are actively opposed to the very agencies they have been appointed to lead.
That Republicans have been anti-government for at least a generation is well known. As well as their hostility to public education and environmental protection. But they have always worked covertly, behind the scenes to achieve their agenda. At least, they have couched it in rhetoric designed to sell it to the rubes.
But Mr. Trump, with his id mentality, lacks the subtlety to do that. He has no filter, and the hypocrisy, corruption and self-serving nature of his administration is on display for all to see.
There are two possible responses to this. Either the oligarchy is so well entrenched that, as Betsy DeVos did, they can literally buy and sell the government and are to be able to do as they please unimpeded, or this is seen as a signal moment in American history.
Trump’s lack of subtlety, as I said above, lays bare the corruption, hypocrisy and symbiosis that is the operating principle of American governance. America, do you take this opportunity, or do you accept rule by kleptocrats and oligarchs?
This is your moment – I am not holding my breath