Proposed Changes: Overview of Trump’s 2024 Social Contract

Change is a direction or set of decisions translated into actions that influence a difference in organizational operations, identity, and overall ethos. Social change refers to changes in the political or economic context of societies which affect the vast majority of the population, albeit not necessarily in a uniform way. The political philosophers would explain the social contract theory as individuals giving power to the government (state) to govern over them in exchange for protection. It must not be misinterpreted that an individual, who is under the social contract has to give up their total freedom rather, the person is still at liberty to do as they please so far as it does not cause harm or impede on another individual’s freedom. Giving up this freedom under the social contract is viewed as a benefit to the society. The social contract can be used as a tool to track changes within a country.

John Locke (1632-1704) developed a theory of natural laws and natural rights which could be used to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate government, and to argue for the legitimacy of revolt against a tyrannical government. It was the government’s responsibility to protect them. Reason served to control and order political life. Individuals relinquish power, but not rights to government (as the government is supposed to preserve rights). He believed that no one ought to harm another with respect to his life, health, liberty, or possessions. For Locke, the role of the social contract that placed authority over people was to protect human equality and freedom; this is why social groups agreed to a social contract that placed an authority over them.1 Donald Trump has made a slew of promises related to the economy, immigration, climate change, and more should he win the 2024 election.

Hegel’s theory is basically that mankind is merely a series of constant philosophical conflicts. That Hegel (1770-1831) was in some sense a critic of social contract theory is beyond dispute. The social contract theory maintained that in organized society the individual must forfeit a certain number of individual rights to the state as the representative of the collective interest of the community. The struggle that Hegel envisioned is the great tension between ‘is’ and ‘ought,’ between the way things are and the way they ought to be. Hegel claims individuals are in various states of alienation – the tension created between the way things are and the way they ought to be. Once the potentialities of a particular society had been realized in the creation of a certain mode of life, its historical role was over; its members became aware of its inadequacies, and the laws and institutions they had previously accepted unquestioningly in the past were now experienced as fetters, inhibiting further development and no longer reflecting their deepest aspirations.

A fair and equitable distribution of income is a fundamental element of the social contract. Social contract theory says that people live together in society in accordance with an agreement that establishes moral and political rules of behavior. Some people believe that if we live according to a social contract, we can live morally by our own choice and not because a divine being requires it. During the 21st century the cost of many discretionary goods and services has fallen sharply, but basic necessities such as housing, healthcare, and education are absorbing an ever-larger proportion of incomes, aggravated by wage stagnation. These shifts point to an evolution in the “social contract”: the arrangements and expectations, often implicit, that govern the exchanges between individuals and institutions. Broadly, individuals have had to assume greater responsibility for their economic outcomes. For many individuals the changes are spurring uncertainty, pessimism, and a general loss of trust in institutions.

Two main reasons have been put forward to explain Donald Trump’s surprising victory at the 2016 presidential election: blue-collar workers’ feeling of socioeconomic insecurity and their feeling of cultural insecurity. The technical reason Trump won the presidency is that he won very narrow victories in just a few key Rust Belt swing states. But the geography and math of the Electoral College ended up working to Trump’s benefit. The white working-class voters who strongly backed Trump are over represented in Electoral College math, while Clinton’s non-white and urban backers tended to be packed into a few key states –even while Hillary Clinton won the electoral vote with a margin of almost three million votes, Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote. A significant chunk of voters were dissatisfied with their choice of candidates. Thus, the number of people electing not to vote for the Republican or Democratic nominee went up by 4.5 million votes, nearly tripling from 2012.

From his first days in Washington to his last, Trump seemed to revel in the political fight. He used his presidential megaphone to criticize a long list of perceived adversaries, from the news media to members of his own administration, elected officials in both political parties and foreign heads of state. The more than 26,000 tweets he sent as president provided an unvarnished, real-time account of his thinking on a broad spectrum of issues and eventually proved so provocative that Twitter permanently banned him from its platform. In his final days in office, Trump became the first president ever to be impeached twice – the second time for inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol during the certification of the election he lost – and the nation’s first chief executive in more than 150 years to refuse to attend his successor’s inauguration.

During the 2016 campaign he told people he was not beholding to wealthy donors. Trump’s policy record included major changes at home and abroad. He achieved a string of long-sought conservative victories domestically, including the biggest corporate tax cuts on record, the elimination of scores of environmental regulations and a reshaping of the federal judiciary. In the international arena, he imposed tough new immigration restrictions, withdrew from several multilateral agreements, forged closer ties with Israel and launched a tit-for-tat trade dispute with China as part of a wider effort to address what he saw as glaring imbalances in America’s economic relationship with other countries. His corporate tax cuts disappear next year. For the 2024 campaign Trump needs help from donors for both campaign funds as well as for his personal finance that has been triggered by two lawsuits. Digital World sets up a scenario where money interests will be able to influence many of Trump’s future decisions.2

However, a social contract can be used as a tool of analysis. Today many argue that a social contract is neither good nor bad by nature but is an equilibrium of the give-and-take between those in power and the rest of society, which reflects the distribution of power. A social contract can be defined as the entirety of explicit or implicit agreements between all relevant societal groups and the sovereign (i.e., the government or any other actor in power), defining their rights and obligations toward each other. Social contracts can be quite different from each other, depending on the nature of state-society relations and the distribution of power. In return for providing deliverables, governments expect members of society to comply with its rule, to confirm – or at least not object to – the legitimacy of its rule, and to remain loyal when conflict with others arises. Social contracts help to create a sense of social cohesion and cooperation, which is necessary for the functioning of any society.

Governments may also require citizens to pay taxes or provide “national” services, such as military or civil service. In this way, analyzing the social contract helps identify what different regimes – authoritarian as well as democratic – have on offer for citizens and what they expect in return. The social contract between an authoritarian regime and its citizens is supposed to create compliance with repressive laws and practices in exchange for security and prosperity. Perspectives on authoritarian rule reflects the “contract” between dictators and different constituencies whereby the latter acquiesce to constraints on their political participation and liberties in exchange for economic security. Rich in oil and natural gas, Russia has utilized its national income to prop up public goods provision. However, while these resources have left Russia nearly free of sovereign debt held abroad, economic development has been limited. The Russian social contract exchanges inaction and loyalty for public safety and reliable access to public goods.

Unfortunately, America’s social contract broke down in the 1980s when the gap between wage growth and productivity growth first started to appear, creating the conditions that Trump tapped into during the 2016 election.  Trump used the primary contest as a tool for purging the party of dissent, and took over the Republican Party. What is Trump’s new social contract for 2024? In efforts to achieve a new social contract workers may elect an authoritarian, in this case, Donald Trump. However, Trump is a symptom of the problem, not the cause. The Republican Party, is now a party without dissent or internal debate, one that exists only to serve the will of one man. Trump admires Putin, but will be unable to emulate Putin’s social contract, as Trump lacks access to national income to help the working man, rather, he will be looking after the concerns of the one percent.

The 2016 election gave voice to the deep-seated frustrations and anger of those who felt left behind by economic forces and fear their children will experience a lower standard of living than they did. Election rage shows why America needs a new social contract to ensure the economy works for all. A new social contract would tie together the main stakeholders of an economy, its workers, business leaders, educators and government, and ensures each group meets it obligations to each other while also pursuing its own goals. Workers, for example, want good wages and careers and have an obligation to work productively and contribute to the success of their enterprise. Employers have to balance the expectations of investors, employees and customers. Trump’s 2024 social contract will not address these key issues. Trump’s proposed changes: 10% import tax along with tax breaks for the rich will not trickle down to those in need of relief.

1 file:///C:/Users/horsm/Downloads/Objectivism-Lost-2012.pdf  2012 (p 55)

2https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/donald-trump-debts-corruption/

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