*People (n, plural): Wealthy, white, heterosexual, cisgender men who will most likely be appointed to positions of power in the U.S. government at some point during the Trump administration
If you consider yourself a liberal in any capacity, you’ve most likely spent the last year and a half watching in horror as America descended into a state of madness. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. What happened to our country these last eighteen months is that, spurred on by a narcissistic bigot without a compassionate bone in his body, a (frighteningly large) swath of the American public stood up to let the rest of us “liberal elites” know that they felt forgotten, left behind, overlooked, discriminated against.
There is truth to this statement. But there is also…let’s say an “alternative truth.” Are farmers in rural areas struggling? Are blue-collar workers largely overlooked? Are these people—the majority of whom are white—also endowed with white privilege so blind they are literally blinded to the struggles of fellow citizens who are not also white? The answer is yes to all of these questions.
So when Donald Trump stood up and said he would fight for “all” Americans, those who feel that political correctness is overrated, that social justice is useless, and that racism is over surged behind him. For eighteen months, devoured his falsehoods, and on November 8, they turned out in droves. Trump has called this a “movement”; I called it reactionary. And I believe it’s a reaction the entire country will come to regret quite soon.
No matter how you look at it, since Trump officially took the oath of office on January 20, claiming to end the “carnage” against the American people, you have to admit that he has proven himself to be anything but the president of the people he claimed he would be. You cannot be the voice of an entire country if you refuse to protect the rights of every citizen in that country; you cannot be the representative of the United States on the global stage if you refuse to participate in global politics.
Since taking office six—six—days ago, our 45th president has begun the repeal of “Obamacare,” without so much as a whisper of what his supposed replacement plan will look like (though we do know that removing the Affordable Care Act will leave a hole in coverage for the very people he swore to defend and help to prosper); put forward a bill that would have the US leave the United Nations entirely; pledged to nominate a conservative Supreme Court justice with the aim of repealing the historic Roe v. Wade; insisted that his asinine idea of building a wall along our southern border is moving forward; continued his war with the press (his much-loathed “liberal media,” at least) and threatened the existence of the White House Press Corps; and banned multiple government agencies from using their social media accounts to share everything from lifesaving details to scientifically accurate facts.
He has done most of this by signing four—four—executive orders and eight—eight—presidential memoranda (yes, there’s a difference). Executive orders require no one’s say so but the president’s. He has sidestepped our country’s much-lauded “checks and balances” system to put his plans into action, without the support or consent of either his government or, by extension, his citizens. This is an autocracy. Trump answers to no one, just the way he wanted it, just the way he always said it would be. He pledged to “drain the swamp,” but he has instead simply begun building his administration a few blocks over. He’s ignoring the swamp, because to look into that murky water is to see his own reflection. He has become—if he wasn’t already—the corrupt elite against whom he promised his supporters he would fight.
Beyond all of that, he has literally spread falsehoods—excuse me, “alternative facts”—since the day he set foot on the campaign trail. And, in recent days, when critics have dared to call out these falsehoods, he has censored them. We now live under a regime that not only flat-out lies, but under which public information is kept from the public. Multiple government agencies have had their social media privileges revoked—including the entirety of the National Parks Service—because they dared to share factual evidence that climate change is real. The administration chooses to believe that such things are fallacies, and so has decided we, the American public, do not deserve to hear the facts and decide for ourselves.
Our own president is delusional enough to believe that his inauguration was the “biggest” in history, that no one cares about his tax returns, and that “illegals” (is there a term more offense than that?) voted illegally to win Hillary Clinton the popular vote. Anyone who dares say otherwise becomes the focus of his infantile ire. In this new age of “alternative facts” and under the threat of being silenced for daring to spread the truth, how can we trust anything this administration tells us? This is censorship; this is the first step on the slippery slope to dictatorship. I wonder what books we’ll be encouraged to burn first.
If you’re a woman under this new regime, you’re undoubtedly frightened—I know I am. And we should be. The one glimmer of hope was this last weekend’s women’s march, which crossed oceans and borders and nationalities and races to cover all seven continents. But Trump has not only signed off on, but expanded, a global gag rule aimed at stopped health organizations from even mentioning abortion to vulnerable women across the globe. Under this rule, organizations that list abortion—and, apparently, a number of other medical procedures and screening—as among their services will not receive monetary aid, money that is desperately needed for them to keep up their efforts. This version of the gag apparently also covers multiple health services beyond abortion, contraception, and reproductive health, curtailing efforts to help women have access to healthcare and thrive. These women need help, not to have their rights further restricted and their lives put at risk. And you’re insane if you don’t think policies in this same vein and targeting American women won’t soon be crossing Trump’s desk.
Trump has not only repeatedly censored the information we are allowed to know and refused to allow his government to actually govern by taking the decisions out of the hands of the House and Senate by simply signing orders, but has also blatantly ignored the letter of the law. Perhaps it isn’t illegal not to share your tax returns. But it is illegal, according to our Constitution (which I’ll remind Mr. President he swore to uphold just five days ago), for a sitting president to accept any kind of gift from foreign dignitaries. It’s called the emoluments clause. This, of course, causes a unique conflict of interest for Trump, who built a hotel in Washington mere months before his swearing in and has since continued to make money from his assorted business ventures, many of which operate globally. Handing control of the company over to his sons is not enough—and he doesn’t even show any sign of doing that. He cannot be an objective leader if he is constantly reminded of the billions he could make by choosing one trade agreement over another. Trump will make money and Americans—ordinary Americans, just like the “forgotten” people who voted for him—will suffer. If they made Jimmy Carter give up his family-owned peanut farm in Georgia, we should insist this man divest himself entirely of his assets.
Donald Trump is entirely unsuited to the office which we (some of) the people have given to him. He is a narcissist, an egotist, a bigot; he is sexist, racist, xenophobic. He thinks women are to be grabbed, immigrants are to be cast out, and minorities are the perpetrators of “American carnage.” None of these things are true. President Barack Obama was correct when he said that Trump was “uniquely unqualified” for his role as president. He will never care so much about the American people, America as a nation, or our democracy as he does about himself. He entered this race for the notoriety and we handed him the highest office in the land (well, the electoral college did, anyway).
The President of the United States is a public service position. Being elected President does not make you a king or a despot; it makes you a servant of your citizens. All elected officials are meant to be beholden to the constituents who elected them. That’s why there have been so many, unending calls to phone, email, and write to your congresspeople and senators to beg their help on any number of issues. They are supposed to listen to us. Donald Trump will never do that. He has proven that he will never do that. No matter how many petitions we sign or how many calls are made for action, he will simply wait until the news cycle runs out, and then he will continue to bask in the glow of his victory and conveniently forget that he is now the leader of our country. And he has proven that he will turn his back on those who believed in him, voted for him, and, astonishingly, continue to support him.