Trump: Erdogan-Style Purges & the New Deplorables

Trump, Putin, Erdogan: Despots or Idiots. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

In the week’s following the unsuccessful summer coup seeking to unseat Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian regime, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an aggressive purge seemingly targeting all those thought to be sympathetic to the liberal cleric Fethullah Gülen. The Alliance for Shared Values, linked to Gülen, has denied any involvement.

Whatever forces are ultimately found guilty for the attempted coup, it served perfectly Erdogan’s press for total power. The sheer numbers involved in this purge suggest he is taking maximum advantage of the situation to remove anyone believed to be out of step with that aim.

The round-up, according to BBC News, has included members of the military and courts, as well as school teachers, members of the finance ministry, clerics and religious teachers, social-service workers, and university faculty. The government’s actions came so fast and were so vast in scope, the operation is believed to have been planned secretly well before the coup.

Compare that with Donald Trump’s promised purge of Obama appointees, political rivals, and department staffers potentially out of ideological step with the President-Elect’s intended war on scientific research and pollution-reducing energy policy. In contrast with Erdogan, Trump’s promised purge has been public since well before last month’s election. It was, in other words, a purge we voted for.

Gone will be the nation’s top-tier generals:

Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump promised to quickly get rid of the top level of senior military officers serving in uniform. But if Trump actually follows through on his plan to purge President Obama’s generals as his first order of business, he could provoke a crisis in civil-military relations at the very beginning of his presidency.

Gone will be Obama appointees:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Trump ally who leads the campaign’s White House transition team, told a room of Republican donors at a closed-door meeting that a Trump presidency could target Obama-administration appointees for firings, saying the campaign was already developing a list of names.

Even the anti-leftist Paul Kengor writing for the Conservative Review decried as a Stalinist echo Trump’s stated willingness to devote tens of millions to destroy the lives of political rivals such as Ted Cruz through the creation of a dedicated super PAC.

This super PAC apparatus would be aimed at destroying Ted Cruz’s future presidential hopes (and Kasich’s), and his future generally. Such is the bitter vindictiveness of Donald Trump. He and his surrogates are setting up for an old-fashioned party purge.

Ted Cruz is guilty of heresy in the house of Trump, for not bowing to the supremacy of the party. Trump loyalists are effectively sentencing Cruz to political death. Their leader grins as he envisions the execution papers.

Now we read that the incoming administration is making a list of any U.S. Department of Energy employees who have attended conferences related to climate change or involved in any way in the crafting of recent climate policy initiatives.

Writes Darius Dixon at Politico:

Donald Trump’s transition team wants the Energy Department to provide the names of any employees who have worked on President Barack Obama’s climate initiatives — a request that has current and former staffers fearing an oncoming “witch hunt.”

The president-elect’s team sought the information as part of a 74-point questionnaire that also asked for details about how DOE’s statistical arm, the Energy Information Administration, does the math on issues such as the cost-effectiveness of wind and solar power versus fossil fuels. POLITICO obtained the document Friday, after Trump’s advisers sent it to the department earlier in the week. …

Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, denounced the questions as “environmental McCarthyism,” calling them “a witch hunt and a loyalty test all rolled into one.”

If Trump’s base was truly fired up by his promises to fight for common folk, the appointments of Goldman Sachs cronies birthed in the heart of Wall Street should be cooling their confidence. One—Trump’s pick to lead the Treasury—oversaw the eviction of a 90-year-old woman for a 27-cent payment error. How’s that for the common folk?

Or the anti-living-wage, fast-food CEO who praises the efficiencies of automation that displace living and breathing workers and holds dear immigrants for their “Thank God I have this job” attitude. In other words, he prefers those holding on by their fingernails to avoid economic oblivion that minimum wages represent. (It’s even harder for those working in less-than-minimum-wage jobs: the disabled, agricultural workers, waiters, and home care aides, among others.)

Continuing to work our way down the list, consider yet another of Trump’s billionaire friends.

From Suzanne McGee at the Guardian:

Then there’s the nomination of Linda McMahon, the co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment, to serve as the head of the Small Business Administration. A collective groan may have gone up from the throats of many WWE wrestlers, dozens of whom filed suit against the company earlier this year alleging it deliberately misclassified them as independent contractors rather than as employees so that it wouldn’t be responsible for concussions and other major head injuries that have caused long-term brain damage. It’s the second time that WWE wrestlers have battled the company over their status. The first attempt failed for procedural reasons, although some legal scholars argue that “WWE’s classification of its wrestlers as independent contractors appears to be patently wrong”.

Let’s get this straight: the individual who will be responsible for overseeing the government’s policies with respect to small business – ensuring that those small businesses treat their employees responsibly and that the government finds ways to help them grow – is a billionaire co-owner of a (large, not small) company that may have achieved its wealth in part by exploiting loopholes in labor rules? That’s a great model for those ambitious entrepreneurs to emulate, isn’t it?

So we have a government hellbent on destroying their rivals at any cost, willing to contest the findings of our own intelligence community to offer shade to authoritarians like Vladimir Putin, and twisting of the meaning of the War on Poverty in the bleakest possible ways.

Surely there’s a purge for all that.