There’s a lot we don’t know about the legacy Donald Trump will leave behind. And it is, of course, hugely important what happens in the 2020 election. But one thing seems sure: Even if he’s a one-term president, Trump will have caused, directly or indirectly, the premature deaths of a large number of Americans.
Some of those deaths will come at the hands of right-wing, white nationalist extremists, who are a rapidly growing threat, partly because they feel empowered by a president who calls them “very fine people.”
Some will come from failures of governance, like the inadequate response to Hurricane Maria, which surely contributed to the high death toll in Puerto Rico. (Reminder: Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.)
Some will come from the administration’s continuing efforts to sabotage Obamacare, which have failed to kill health reform but have stalled the decline in the number of uninsured, meaning that many people still aren’t getting the health care they need. Of course, if Trump gets his way and eliminates Obamacare altogether, things on this front will get much, much worse.
But the biggest death toll is likely to come from Trump’s agenda of deregulation — or maybe we should call it “deregulation,” because his administration is curiously selective about which industries it wants to leave alone.
Consider two recent events that help capture the deadly strangeness of what’s going on.
One is the administration’s plan for hog plants to take over much of the federal responsibility for food safety inspections. And why not? It’s not as if we’ve seen safety problems arise from self-regulation in, say, the