We’re already starting to see how America’s gamble on Donald Trump will pay off: with gifts to the corporations and billionaires he swore he’d put us above.
One of Trump’s first priorities is to repeal one of the only federal laws standing between us and Wall Street. That law created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal office created to look after consumers’ interests.
Since its founding, the bureau has returned $11.8 billion that big banks essentially stole from 27 million of their customers. The agency recently uncovered rampant fraud at Wells Fargo and hit the bank with a $100 million fine. It also acted to rein in the predatory payday lending industry, which catches 12 million people in its debt trap each year.
Our president-elect now wants to eliminate that agency, and the Republicans running Congress will be all too happy to accommodate him. Like the Republicans’ 2012 presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, they’ve always been in the pocket of the big banks.
Without the consumer protection agency, you’ll be absolutely on your own. The big banks can run roughshod over you, and there won’t be a single federal agency whose sole job it is to defend you from them.
Trump also says he’ll repeal Obamacare right away. There’s a lot that isn’t working in the health care law. But Trump doesn’t have any plan to fix those things, or to lower premiums and get rid of deductibles.
Instead, he’ll throw out the health care plans an estimated 20 million people received through the Affordable Care Act — many for the first time in their lives. There will be no one there for them but the insurance corporations, and we know how that goes. And House Speaker Paul Ryan is talking about turning Medicare over to the insurance corporations, too.
On top of that, Trump’s going to toss the Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions. He’s pledged to put a climate change denier at the head of the EPA and to undermine the key laws that protect our air and water. The corporations that dump poisonous waste into our drinking water and asthma-inducing pollutants into our air are thrilled.
He’s also vowing to deport millions of our friends, neighbors, and family members. The futures of millions of young people hang in the balance. And he’d shred the Constitution to ban Muslims, destroying a nearly 300-year tradition of religious liberty.
I sincerely hope that’s not our voice.
But we’ll have to prove it’s not by standing up for each other — for the immigrants in our communities, Muslims, African Americans, and everyone who’s now under attack. The man who claims to speak for us has stoked a wave of alleged attacks against marginalized communities by his supporters.
There are reports of high school students calling out “heil Hitler” and using slurs against African American and gay students, handing out “deportation” letters to classmates, and harassing Muslim students. A church just outside the nation’s capital found its banner advertising a Spanish-language service vandalized with the inscription, “Trump Nation. Whites Only.”
The Ku Klux Klan says Donald Trump speaks for them, and they’re planning to celebrate by marching in North Carolina. Does he speak for the rest of us, too?
Now the choice is ours. No matter how we voted, we have to show who we really are. Forget about anybody speaking for us. It’s time for us all to speak up for ourselves and our neighbors, and to pledge to defend everyone in our communities — from billionaires and bigots alike.
LeeAnn Hall is the co-director of People’s Action (PeoplesAction.org), a national organization engaging in research and advocacy for economic, racial, gender, and climate justice. Distributed by OtherWords.org.