And there are a couple of shifts that do indeed seem to be as permanent as anything is in politics: marriage equality and legal cannabis.
But neither, one recalls, was a signature goal of Obama.
Obama’s core achievement in foreign policy was to shift America from embattled enmeshment in the region to a more offshore balancing role.
By getting out of Iraq, and reaching out to Tehran, as well as maintaining our links to Jerusalem and the Saudi theocracy, the U. increased its options and leverage, while bringing Europe into the mix through the Iran deal. policy clearly committed de facto to the Israeli goal of annexation of the entire West Bank, and of intensified apartheid. withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has more deeply entangled the U. in the Muslim religious war, by throwing in our lot completely with the Sunnis.
The window for keeping the planet from ecological catastrophe was only barely ajar in 2016; the Paris Agreement was the most minimal of gestures toward keeping it open; now, it’s all but sealed shut.
Trump’s championing of environmental destruction, his active reveling in it, his plan to open up the Alaskan wilderness to oil drilling, his near-religious fealty to fossil fuels: Unless some technological miracle occurs, the odds of restraining, let alone reversing, climate catastrophe are vanishingly low.He began as an alleged opponent of marriage equality, even though, of course, he was bullshitting.He wouldn’t touch the marijuana issue in his entire term and even at one point dismissed it as trivial.By ending the individual mandate, by allowing for more bare-bones insurance policies, and by narrowing the time window to apply for Obamacare policies, Trump has rendered the ACA unstable and unaffordable.More profoundly, Trump has managed to shift our cultural politics.Almost all of that regulation has now gone out the window, thanks to Scott Pruitt’s diligent fanaticism.Yes, there is no undoing of the deeper market and technological trends that are making renewable energy more affordable; but if you take the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change seriously, even Obama’s energy legacy was insufficient to the scale of the task.He has baited the left to occupying new territory, thereby cementing his triumph.What drives Trump is racial essentialism, a rage at the post-racial, integrative center that the mixed-race Obama represented. The idea that African-Americans have some responsibility for their own advancement, that absent fatherhood and a cultural association of studying with “acting white” are part of the problem — themes Obama touched upon throughout his presidency — is now almost a definition of racism itself.The fiscal vandalism is also a massive U-turn in terms of redistribution.If Obama managed to shift resources, ever so incrementally, toward the middle class and the poor (by allowing Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy to expire, by bringing millions of the working poor into health insurance), Trump has done the opposite, by doubling down on unprecedented economic inequality, and borrowing unimaginable sums to disproportionately benefit the unimaginably wealthy.