The conservative movement is committed to two mutually reinforcing policies: plutocratic giveaways that empower the ultra-wealthy, and law-and-order crackdowns that target the poor, people of color, immigrants and the working class.
President Trump’s agenda perfectly reflects this dystopian dynamic. His vast corporate tax handout is already filling the pockets of those that control our country’s economic system: On Saturday February 24, for instance, in his annual letter to shareholders, the billionaire Warren Buffet announced that his company Berkshire Hathaway had raked in more than $29 billion in gains thanks to the tax bill alone. Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that roughly 100 US companies have announced that they will use the windfall from tax savings to finance more than $178 billion in stock buybacks—a practice that will primarily benefit their shareholders. The rich, in other words, are getting much richer.
At the same time, the Trump administration has made punishment its principal tool for managing those on the margins. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has enthusiastically reignited the war on drugs, rescinding in January a number of Obama-era policies that had directed federal prosecutors to avoid interfering with marijuana-friendly states. The Department of Homeland Security, for its part, continues its vicious crackdown on immigrant communities across the country. In 2017, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency arrested more than 155,000 undocumented immigrants, more than 30 percent of whom had no criminal record whatsoever. More than 2.2 million people, meanwhile, remain locked in prisons, and the Trump administration has shown no desire to shrink that abysmal figure.
Thankfully, there are better angels outside of the Beltway, and they’ve been busy this past month. From coast to coast, in places like Philadelphia, Columbus, Kansas City, and Oakland, legislators and officials and organizers have been working to overturn the failures of the federal drug war, to provide for those living in precarious conditions and to improve the health and well-being of their constituents and neighbors. Unlike their conservative counterparts, they want no part in policies that empower the already powerful and oppress the already oppressed.
A Promising Start for Philadelphia’s Progressive New DA
Larry Krasner—the long-time civil-rights attorney who was elected in a landslide in November to be Philadelphia’s district attorney—has made his mark in little more than a month in office. After a bold campaign that called for an end to mass incarceration, the war on drugs, and the death penalty, he is rapidly reforming his new office.