Áine Kenny gives her two cents on what has been a chaotic and controversial first few weeks in office for President Trump.
Every day last week, it seemed we were waking up to a fresh Executive Order from Donald Trump, carrying out one of his election promises. I for one am saddened, yet not surprised, by what’s going on in the US. It’s terrible that this buffoon has been allowed to become President. He seems to think running a country is much like running a business, and he can chop and change policies like stocks.
Now a lot of his voters are scared and angry at the outcome, many of whom are losing their insurance due to Trump’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Many people are also horrified by his de-facto “Muslim Ban”, which means no Syrian refugees can enter the States for 120 days. This ban also includes people holding citizenship from the seven countries seen to pose a significant terrorist threat: Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Yemen. But the most worrying thing about this ban was the phrasing of Trump’s initial plan for this executive order, where he asked advice from former mayor of New York City Rudi Giuliani, essentially asking that: “I want a Muslim ban, but make it legal”.
I think the average American citizen is appalled by these frenzied executive actions. It really does seem like Trump has no concrete plan for implementation of policies- he wants it done, and it will be done. But his version of done is very different to our version of done- for example, with the de-facto Muslim ban, green card holders and people who hold dual citizenship are barred from entering the USA. So, Trump trying to curb illegal immigration is, in effect, curbing legal immigration.
But this is what happens when you surround yourself with cronies and non experienced advisors- for example, the education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, has no experience with the public-school system or college loan system in the States. The nominee to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, thinks that human’s impact on climate change is “still up for debate”. But perhaps most worryingly of all, is Steve Bannon, Trump’s Chief Strategist and Senior Counsellor. Bannon was formerly the executive chairman of Breitbart News, an alt-right news website. Were you wondering why Trump’s inauguration speech was so “America first”, nationalist and isolationist in approach? Bannon, in part, wrote it.
But what does any of this all mean? In my opinion, it is an extremely messy transition of power, and points to an incompetent president. The resistance to these executive actions has been striking- for example, the Women’s March on Washington and in other cities drew mass support, which was good to see in the face of an overtly sexist president. There has been protests at JFK airport over the immigration ban, with lawyers arriving to work pro-bono for those effected. And perhaps the biggest statement of protest was from the Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who pulled out of meetings with Trump after his crass insistence that “Mexico are gonna pay for it”, referring to the infamous “wall”.
I wonder how the actions of Trump will affect the world stage. The USA seem to be retreating, with their exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, their removal of funding from organisations who provide abortions or provide information about abortion world-wide (no surprises there, as Trump has to keep the evangelical republican supporters happy).
Before World War One, the USA were quite isolationist and preferred not to meddle in world affairs. In recent times, it can be argued that the USA have been hyper-involved in global affairs, and many times this has led to carnage. Just look to the Middle East as an example of this. So perhaps an ‘exit stage right’ for the USA will benefit the rest of the world?
But in my heart, I believe in cooperation and multi-culturalism. I do not believe now is the time to be putting up walls, instead we should be tearing them down and working together to overcome the plight of suffering. That suffering has pervaded innocent people across the world for too long now. Whether it be Syrian refugees fleeing violence or economic migrants to the UK in search of a better life. The USA burying their heads in the sand isn’t a sign of courage, or “making America great again”.
At its core, the slogan is code for making America white again, it is promoting fear and suspicion of other countries, it is ultra-nationalist. And by definition, nationalism is exclusionary, and in this case, dangerous. But a President doesn’t define a people. Many US citizens are standing up against sexism and xenophobia in their own ways, through protest, donations or petition signing. So not all is lost. In any case, I think that there will always be political turmoil, and it just so happens we are living in these times.