Hateful, divisive policy goes hand in hand with militarization and increased support for solving problems by killing people. The Trump administration proposed today to dramatically increase our already bloated military spending and increase support for law enforcement that targets poor and marginalized communities at home – all while slashing funding for agencies that actually serve those communities and help society, including agencies that provide foreign assistance. This is of course perfectly in line with Trump’s rhetoric and policy that have already been enabling hate crimes, political violence and breaking of families in our country – both by government entities like CBP and ICE, and by white nationalist vigilantes.
That the Trump administration singled out foreign assistance as a primary target for budget cuts is no surprise. Foreign assistance is a cornerstone of international cooperation and, at its best, represents an understanding of our moral obligation to support the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. While U.S. foreign aid has always been beset by problems – channeling money to private U.S. contractors rather than directly to the people who need it, and serving as a foreign policy tool rather than as genuine support for or solidarity with the poor and vulnerable – cutting it is not the answer.
In cutting aid, Mr. Trump is not reforming the way we do foreign assistance; he is merely demonstrating that he cares nothing about international cooperation, much less feels any moral obligation to those less fortunate than himself.
Fascism relies on increased mobilization of state-sponsored violence against perceived “enemies of the state” or “enemies of the people” (a phrase the Trump administration has begun openly using), both foreign and domestic. This budget proposal is both a statement about the Trump administration’s disdain for the rest of the world, and an important step towards the dystopian authoritarian regime to which it seems to aspire. The two phenomena are linked – withdrawing from international cooperation means that global crises like climate change will continue unabated, which will inevitably have implications for our country. Trump’s natural response will be further militarization of our borders and clamping down on dissent. And so the vicious cycle will continue.
Legislators – Democratic and Republican alike – must wake up to the reality that the Trump administration is attempting to turn our country into a neo-fascist police state. This is a reality that many marginalized communities have already been living, but the administration’s nakedly authoritarian actions should force even the most spineless legislators to stand up and say that this is not the path we as a country want to walk.
Of course, members of Congress do not have the best record when it comes to demonstrating that they possess spines. As both parties prove themselves to be terribly weak when it comes to meaningfully pushing back against the slide into fascism, our own resistance – in town halls, on the streets, on the phones, in the small meeting rooms, churches, and private homes where real organizing happens – becomes increasingly important. Trump, spineless Republicans, and helpless Democrats will not bring our communities further ruin without a fight.