For Trump, It's Not About Changing Climate; It’s Bannon's Rapacious Capitalism and Deconstructing Government

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Bannon; Trump's climate expert. Photo Gage Skidmore-Flickr

President Donald Trump said that in order "to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord," and that "exiting the agreement protects the United States from future intrusions on the United States' sovereignty and massive future legal liability.”

This was June 1, when he announced that he has made the decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.  It’s important to understand the Accord and its mission.

According to the United Nations, “The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”  The Accord requires, “…all Parties to put forward their best efforts through “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts.”

According to the German paper Der Spiegel, while meeting with G-7 leaders in Europe, French president Emmanuel Macron tried to convince Trump to stick with the Paris Accord by saying, "Climate change is real and it affects the poorest countries." Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Trump that the fight against the ozone hole was a success.  Finally, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Trump that renewable energies present significant economic opportunities. "If the world's largest economic power were to pull out, the field would be left to the Chinese," she warned. Xi Jinping is clever, she added, and would take advantage of the vacuum created by America’s absence.

So why would Trump have such a problem with a voluntary agreement, endorsed by more than 175 countries to use their best efforts in preventing a 2-degree Celsius increase in the global temperature? Most scientists agree that an increase of more than 2-degrees Celsius (3.6 F) could result in the world experiencing longer droughts, more intense heat waves, large disruptions to the world’s food supply and a rise in sea levels of several feet resulting in the flooding of many coastal communities. The answer is, it’s not what the Accord does or does not do; it’s what the Accord represents to Trump and more importantly, Steve Bannon.

Trump’s ideological guru or “chief strategist” is Steve Bannon.  According to Bannon’s comments at the Human Dignity Institute’s 2014 Vatican conference as reported by Buzz Feed, “I believe the world, and particularly the Judeo-Christian West, is in a crisis… it is a crisis both of capitalism but really of the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian West in our beliefs.” He believes that hundreds of years from now, people will look back at this time as “almost a new Dark Age”.

Trump has bought into Bannon’s belief that what has saved America in the past and what will save America going forward is capitalism, not a representative democracy, but capitalism. “The underlying principle is an enlightened form of capitalism, that capitalism really gave us the wherewithal… And I believe we’ve come partly offtrack in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union and we’re starting now in the 21st century, which I believe, strongly, is a crisis both of our church, a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West, a crisis of capitalism.”

Bannon’s stated objective is to “deconstruct” the “administrative state”. He believes that capitalism can only flourish by eliminating the government’s ability to influence, control or protect the interests of the American people through its power to regulate business. He does not view American economic interests as a part of or an element to facilitate the growth of American culture. To Bannon, capitalism is the culture. He states, “…we're a nation with an economy. Not an economy just in some global marketplace with open borders, but we are a nation with a culture and a reason for being."

Bannon’s “America First” rhetoric as parroted by Trump, is a racist, anti-immigrant, anti-free trade and anti-globalization cacophony that they promote as protecting American sovereignty. It is imperative that African Americans and other people of color understand that Bannon’s “America First” rhetoric does not include them. According to the Southern Poverty Center, “It is easy to see why the KKK views Trump as their champion when Trump appoints one of the foremost peddlers of White Supremacist themes and rhetoric as his top aide. Bannon was ‘the main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill…”

Trump says he is pulling out of the Paris Accord because, “…our withdrawal from the agreement represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty… exiting the agreement protects the United States from future intrusions on the United States' sovereignty… The Paris Accord would undermine our economy, hamstring our workers, weaken our sovereignty, impose unacceptable legal risks, and put us at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.”

The Trump administration used lies, misinformation and disinformation as the rational for pulling out of the Accord. They used outdated reports such as an NERA Economic Consulting report that inaccurately stated that to stay in the Accord will cost close to $3 trillion in lost GDP.  When Trump says the Accord threatens American sovereignty he fails to take into consideration that participation is voluntary and nonbinding. Finally, it’s not the Paris Accord that is contributing to the loss of coal jobs in the US. Coal is not even mentioned in the agreement.  It’s the switch to natural gas and a reduction in demand abroad that is eliminating coal jobs.  If Trump is really interested in supporting coal miners, he should provide funding to retrain them to take “green jobs”. There are more “green jobs” in the California alone than there are coal miners in the entire country.

According to Politifact.com, “As of May 2017, there were 51,000 coal mining jobs nationwide, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics…according to a survey by Advanced Energy Economy Institute, as of 2015, AEEI’s survey found 507,703 advanced energy jobs in California, up 18 percent from the previous year. It estimated that figure would grow to nearly 550,000 in 2016.”

Analysts keep asking Trump administration officials whether or not Trump believes in climate change. Trump refuses to answer the question. The U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, "President Trump believes the climate is changing, and he believes pollutants are part of that equation."  They are asking the wrong question.

Among the questions we should demand answers to are: 1) What’s the opposition to a voluntary accord that allows countries to implement climate saving initiatives at their own discretion? 2) Why are you ignoring major companies like Exxon Mobil, Shell Oil, Chevron and BP, who support the Paris Accord 3) In the bigger picture what’s wrong with international trade deals, peace accords, international cooperative agreements and organizations such as the UN and NATO?

Trump’s position on the Paris Accord has absolutely nothing to do with changing the climate; it’s about changing the government by deconstructing the administrative state. The Paris Accord is just one example of this. It’s about unleashing unbridled capitalism upon the American people unrestrained by government oversight or control so that unregulated capitalists can squeeze every penny out of this economy for personal gain.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the author of Politics Another Perspective, Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon,” on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: wjl3us@yahoo.com. www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com

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