Today, Trump nation officially begins. The festivities began last night, with Trump’s welcome concert setting a compelling tone for the new administration: it didn’t run properly, didn’t reflect current and popular tastes, and no one really wanted to buy a ticket and attend. With the lowest approval ratings of any incoming president in at least 40 years, Trump’s team resorted to sponsored ads on social media begging and inviting the public to attend. The numbers show the reluctance that the country has with the event: there are only 393 bus parking passes for Trump’s inauguration, while 1,200 bus parking permits have been booked for the Women’s March protest on the 21.
I think it’s a pretty accurate representation of the feelings about the incoming President and administration.
The majority of us want nothing to do with him, but we don’t exactly have a choice now, so I’d like to try and give him a chance at least. To be fair, he hasn’t actually done a single thing as President of the United States yet. I mean, Ronald Reagan was a laughing stock when he took office, but look at the incredible changes he made to shape American history.
Trump has very clearly established that he is anti-establishment. That much, I cheer for. In his Inauguration Eve speech, he recounts how the mainstream media completely discounted him and his supporters. “That last month of the campaign, we knew that something special was happening,” Trump recalled. “And I can only tell you this, the polls started going up, up up, but they didn’t want to give us credit because they forget about a lot of us.”
And they did. Americans were so sick and distrustful of institutions and current establishment that those in key swing states flocked to the polls and ended up electing Trump to arguably the most powerful position in the world. Despite the fact that he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million, it’s a bit exciting to have someone in office who won’t do things the same way just because that’s how it’s been done in the past. We all know change needed to come.
Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where my enthusiasm ends for our Cheetos demagogue. Although Friday marks another peaceful transition of power (peaceful as in no military coups on the horizon), Trump’s transition was one of the most controversial in history, filled with scandals and protests. Often it seemed as though Trump reveled in the attention, consistently ranting on Twitter regarding his grievances and inciting passionate responses. He is also in the unique position of coming into office with the biggest Republican majority in the House in a century, along with a majority in the Senate. Although Trump will lament the many disasters leftover from the last eight years, he will not have the same ridiculous roadblocks Obama had when trying to pass any single piece of legislation or make any change whatsoever, so we’re going to have to see what Trump does with some of the most important aspects of governing this country.
Jobs, jobs, jobs. It’s one of the most important things our government should be addressing, and definitely one Trump claims he can improve. Interestingly enough though, he’s in a much better position than Obama was in when he took office in 2009. Not only are we not in the middle of a devastating recession, but over the last eight years, Obama has actually reduced our unemployment rate from 7.8% to 4.7%. Trump’s emphasis on bringing jobs back to America made him quite popular, but economic evidence suggests recent announcements by high-profile companies about US job creations are just maneuvers to avoid being subject to a Trump Twitter tantrum.
For example, GM announced creating 450 new American jobs and moving 6,000 existing technology jobs back to the US, but this is actually a part of a four-year efficiency plan. Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, is on Trump’s economic policy team, and has rebuffed his claims of involvement several times. In fact, GM had already begun insourcing 11,000 IT jobs in the US over the last few years- long before Trump became a viable presidential candidate. Trump continues to tweet about many companies though, like Toyota, who are creating jobs outside the US, despite the fact that most already have their hiring plans in place. However, it seems as though many companies are recycling their old news to avoid getting on Trump’s naughty list.
So Trump can’t claim credit for 130,000 US jobs announced since November, but shining such a public light on examples of outsourcing may ultimately impact corporate conduct. Trump prodding CEOs could eventually lead to American jobs, since companies respond to stakeholders, investors, consumers, and public relations pressures. This is clearly a priority for Trump based on the amount of time he’s spent tweeting about it recently, but the billion dollar question is what he’ll do himself to change things. Will he alter corporate law, federal policy, or international trade? I’ll need to see more than a few targeted tweets to really believe he’s seeking to lower that 4.7% unemployment rate further.
The nomination and election of Trump indicates a fundamental flaw in how our current bipartisan system works. Anyone remotely left of center was completely horrified by the unprofessional and undignified way Trump went about his campaign, inciting public outrage over his racist, misogynistic, xenophobic and downright verbally abusive comments. Hell, many members of the Republican Party didn’t want him as their nominee- though since he’s won, they seem to have changed their tune. When Obama took office in 2009, there were 257 Democrats in the House; that has dropped to 194. I’m extremely curious to see whether the Democrats look at overhauling their party's priorities- evidence currently suggests otherwise- along with what the conservatives will do among their ranks to ensure they continue to hold the most power they’ve had in decades. We the people have sent a message to our politicians for changes in their parties and institutions, so now it’s going to be interesting to see whether Trump, the supposed man of the people, will get his party to start paying attention.
Of course, all the separate aspects I’m discussing tie into one another and are extremely important for a presidency, but this is the big one everyone’s focusing on. Trump’s businesses around the globe put him at risk for conflicts of interest, so what safeguards will he be putting up to protect against these? Or will he at all? Is he going to continue to promote his Trump family brand and businesses with the backing of the American government? I mean, he already delivered remarks at a leadership luncheon with his transition officials and incoming staff at the Washington Trump hotel. Booking that event at any other location would have been a way to waive off his critics, but it doesn’t seem like he can bear to let that money go somewhere else right now. After all the hoopla about Russian involvement and his weird bromance with Putin, the world is waiting to see whether his cabinet pick of Rex Tillerson- who has high stakes in re-establishing business in Russia- can manage to get over his own conflicts of interest.
There are still several thousand troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, although far fewer than when Obama came into office. But there are new dynamics in the world, such as the Syrian civil war, North Korea’s nuclear tests, and rumors of China building/acquiring additional islands in the South China Sea to contend with, along with diplomatic relations with Cuba. There are two delegations of Israeli settlers heading for his inauguration today, along with Russia’s top diplomat in the US- so it’s obvious that Trump is looking to change up US diplomacy. It’s unclear what Trump plans are exactly, but we already know his wall along the Mexico border is falling apart.
That wall along Mexico’s border was just a ludicrous idea. Anyone who really supported that clearly thought they were living in the Qin dynasty and could build another Great Wall to keep out the modern day version of nomadic tribes. Surprise, they’re not, and this is a terrible idea, made worse by Trump’s assumption that he has enough influence to make Mexico pay for the wall. This idiotic idea is only rivaled by his claims regarding the benefits of a Muslim ban, or registry. Should we ask how well that went in Germany with the Jews? Or is that a sufficient enough cliché in its own right? The way Trump railed against refugees and immigrants, you’d think that every single problem in the world was their fault. Hint: it’s not. Unfortunately, this means our immigration numbers could change significantly under his presidency. We’ll have to see whether someone gives Trump a crash course in the effects of globalization and advances in technology on the job market.
Crime and Justice
I’ve already spent some time detailing my worries about Sessions and the crime rate, and Jed Fisher has discussed the ridiculous Supreme Court issues, so we won’t waste valuable space on that anymore. But Trump now has the power to effect our laws long past his time in office, and I’m starting to get anxiety attacks about Republicans using this as the opportunity to roll back health care rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights- not to mention increasing legal prejudices against minorities and ongoing mass incarceration. Let’s move on.
Health Policy and Outcomes
Since I already mentioned it above, we might as well address some of it directly. The big health policy story of Obama’s year was (duh) Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act in case people were confused. Republicans have already started the process of dismantling this, despite the fact that the rate of cost growth for health insurance has slowed down from +5% to +3% during the Obama years. The fact that Republicans are looking for ways to take health insurance away from 8.4 million children emphasizes that Trump’s administration is not making any efforts to protect people’s health rights. Pushing their conservative agenda, they still haven’t announced details as to their health plan alternative, which, considering Trump has time to tweet about SNL and getting snubbed by Hollywood A-listers, makes me think there aren’t any details to share yet.
Please don’t ruin our healthcare system, Trump. I’m really hoping you have a plan and can actually improve it.
This one’s a doozy. Trump has already gone on record denying global warming, then blaming climate change on China (how convenient). The measure of global temperatures is disturbing, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announcing the warmest global temperatures on record. This is the third record-breaking temperature climb in three years. In addition, with Trump’s cabinet being a who’s who of the big banks and fossil fuel industries, there’s already an unprecedented amount of public doubters towards human-caused climate change. Scott Pruitt as the Environmental Protection Agency pick- who has accepted more than $250,000 in donations from the oil and gas industry and helped lead a lawsuit from 28 states against the agency’s clean power plan- has written that there is still a debate about the extent of global warming and its connection to humans. There isn’t. So I’ll be colored surprised if any environmental protection progress is made over the next four years. Most telling will be what Trump is going to do in regards to the North Dakota Pipeline- clashes between protesters and police have started again with fears that Trump will allow his oil friends to pressure him into granting them the easement to start drilling. His decision in this crucial situation will reveal a great deal about his plans for the environment.
I don’t have the time to delve into the 500+ conflict of interests Trump and his children currently have. His statements on how to address these significantly fail to do so properly. And despite his claims that his cabinet “has the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever assembled,” his cabinet is one of the worst qualified as well. Trump’s few appointments have indicated that he has zero intention of draining the swamp, especially with appointments like Betsy Devos who has absolutely no qualifications except for her family’s donations to the Republican party. Honestly, I’m getting tired of being awash in the negativity surrounding Trump’s incoming administration though, so let’s wrap this up so everyone can start calling me names for insulting “the dear leader” in the comments section.
Maybe I’m being unfair. Trump’s administration is still vastly empty- which is a problem in itself. Out of the 690 positions requiring Senate confirmation, Trump has come up with 30. Considering the risk he’s running with missing National Security Council staffers, Trump’s administration is off to a rough start. The Partnership for Public Service suggests presidents have 100 Senate-confirmed appointees in place on or around Inauguration Day, but at this rate, Trump won’t have 100 nominees by the end of February, let alone have them confirmed and actually working. Trump may be falling short, despite his ambitious announcements for his first day in office, because he just doesn’t have enough staff to get things going in the first few months, which is important.
It’s possible Trump- or his camp- intend to bypass the executive branch and attempt to run the nation, including its foreign policy, out of the White House themselves. It’s possible, to some extent, but it never ends well. I sincerely hope this isn’t the case, but given his obsession with power and proving his worth, it’s a possibility. Then again, perhaps his empty administration has nothing to do with choice and everything to do with a lack of understanding: he just has no idea what he’s doing, and hasn’t surrounded himself with people well-equipped to translate his temper tantrums and spoiled demands into actual governmental practices.
I think that’s what will ultimately define our upcoming Trump years. Trump’s lack of experience could be an asset, but it probably won’t be. His fumbling, conflicts of interest, lack of knowledge, blatant lies, attacks against the press, and overall failings outline how Trump seems to want to use the presidency to bully those lesser than him and generate profit for his family and personal brand. This man who prides himself on every action being front-page news- whether the coverage is flattering or not- seems to want the pomp and circumstance of the highest office without putting forth the effort to run and properly govern our country. Trump’s sense of worth seems directly tied to outside catalysts, and he desperately wants to prove himself. Even his biographers believe he has a deep fear that he is not a legitimate president.
I hope he shifts his perspective. Over the next four years, I hope he changes- from that reality TV star mentality, from being a businessman who filed for bankruptcy 6 times, from being a constant source of anger and division within our country- into someone we can all get behind. C’mon Trump- prove me wrong. Be the man that does help America become great without throwing away all the social, economic, and cultural progress we’ve made over the years. I’d love nothing more than to eat my words. Don’t turn the US into a ratings machine or a profit center for yourself. Please defy all us naysayers and become a real, inspirational, legitimate President of the great United States.