On November 8th, 2016, Donald Trump won the United States Presidential Election. This victory was cemented on December 19th when the Electoral College cast its votes and Trump managed to maintain the vast majority of his pledged electors and garner well over the required 270 votes to win. Since his victory Trump and his campaign advisors have begun to lay the foundation of their administration. As his policies begin to take shape hundreds of thousands of Americans who supported Clinton or did not support Trump have continued to show their anger through social media posts and failed petitions to the electoral college to prevent him from “running the country”.
There has been a continuous outcry over Trump’s cabinet appointments with both news commentators and everyday citizens claiming that, for example, Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon, should not be running the Department of Housing and Urban Development (or HUD). Carson even at first announced he didn’t want the position as he felt he was unqualified to manage such a department. Yet among all these complaints about how Trump's presidency will be devastating or how his Cabinet appointments are terribly unqualified and potentially corrupt one thing has been stunningly missing. Calls to action.
Despite the comparisons of Trump and many fascist leaders, the United States is not yet a dictatorship. While the job of the President is incredibly important and powerful (too powerful, in fact, according to many Constitutional scholars) it is not the only branch of the government that holds power. Congress is usually agreed upon by legal experts to have been granted the most power by the Constitution. It has the ability to investigate, impeach, and indict the President, vote up or down his appointments and write and pass all legislation. Should the president veto it, congress could potentially override that action as well. So far Trump has nominated 17 individuals to Cabinet-level positions and all of which will be questioned by various members of the Senate as well as voted upon for approval by the Senate as a whole.
If you disagree with Trump’s pick for Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, don’t just share Facebook posts about his ties to Goldman Sachs that will most likely bounce off the walls of a liberal echo chamber. Call or write your Senator and demand that they represent your voice in the confirmation process. Promise them that you’ll remember this vote in 2, 4 or 6 years when they’re up for re-election. If you believe that the racist comments that shot down Jeff Sessions nomination for a federal judgeship over a decade ago ought to disqualify him for Attorney General, let your Senator know. There are 100 United States Senators if you live in any state you have 2 Senator who represent you. Whether they’re Democrats, Republicans, newly elected or have been in the Senate forever let them hear your voice and demand that they do their job in keeping Trump and his appointees accountable.
The price America pays for what sometimes seems to be insurmountable gridlock is checks and balances. The same processes which can allow for a government shutdown can allow for Congress to demand action from the President and vice versa. We’ve seen an overwhelming amount of frustration and the gridlock and partisanship that has flourished in the midst of these systems, but for once, we need to be able to put aside differences and use these processes for what they were created to do, maintain a balance of power.
Whether you like or despise Trump, one must admit his Presidency and election bring with it unprecedented questions whether it’s in regards to his business empire, the Russian hacking, or his unusual cabinet appointments and media relations. To answer these questions we must demand a Congress that acts in our interest and not along partisan lines.
To find out who represents you in Congress go here.