This Is "Making America Great Again"?

This Is "Making America Great Again"?

One week in, and we're seeing promises fulfilled...but not for everyone.
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Within his campaign, Donald Trump considered the political elite as good talkers, but getting nothing done. Under his administration, he believes this will no longer be the case. The theme was enough to get him into the White House in November, and claiming that the government now belongs to the people in his inaugural speech featured dark imagery about what the United States is now.

To those who voted for him to create a change, they’ve started to get their wish. A series of executive orders ranging from creating a gag order for organizations that mention abortion to developing plans of the infamous wall alongside the Mexican border were signed within this week. Basically, he is starting the presidency the way he said he would, eventually focusing on those vulnerable to the changes in modern day society leading to job losses.

As somebody from the other side of the political spectrum, I understand why some people voted for Trump and won’t comment on that further. However, I do have my concerns with these policies along with the flurry of events going on, especially with the implications.

First, the global gag order on any programs which even mention the term “abortion” within their services. If they do so, they are subjugated to less, or no funding, from the United States government. This is a problem because these organizations also provide help for malaria and other diseases for people living in developing countries, especially within rural areas. While this was relevant since the passage of the Helms Amendment in 1973, through which the United States cannot use taxpayer money to fund abortions internationally, then what is the point if smaller health organizations become vulnerable? This could lead to unwanted births and a wider variety of health consequences.

While that was in the background, another executive order was signed on Wednesday to officially declare the beginnings of a wall built on the Mexican border, something promised since the day Trump declared his candidacy. And like the suggestion that Mexico will pay for it, Enrique Peña Nieto, the president, has declined. The project, which would be worth trillions of dollars, could theoretically end up being paid through a 20% tax on Mexican imports or on the American people. Either way, the symbolism is drastically clear: to solve crime and undocumented immigration, just build a wall? There is no looking at the intricacies on why they are coming here, or the labor necessary, or the impact on both economies.

And most recently, he signed an executive order establishing an indefinite end to the refugee program, along with banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. While the administration suggests this is because of fears of terrorism from said countries, this falls short on some aspects. Several countries, including Saudi Arabia, were not part of this wide-scoping ban, which even involve some of the president’s conflicts of interest with his business. Stories of detaining travelers, not letting others in, and protests in airports follows. Ghosts of previous American policies banning immigrants also arose. Even more ironically, it was signed on Holocaust Remembrance Day—bringing another dimension to how the United States abandoned Jewish refugees in World War II, including sending one ship back full of them. They would eventually die in concentration camps.

“Making America Great Again” has become a slogan for those who believed they drowned within the accelerating changes in globalization, jobs, and how to approach them. Their champion has arose and in a sweep, signed executive orders to benefit them. While I do recognize they may not fully come to pass, the precedent with these is that the United States will reject the livelihoods of many people across the world. And with the emergence of "alternative facts" and the resumption of two big pipelines, we're facing a question of what our politicians are fighting for and the further degradation of the environment. Although we are a week into Trump's administration with more to see, if this is a "great" United States so far, then the bar has been set very low.

Cover Image Credit: Getty Images / Nicholas Kamm

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Terrors Behind "Toddlers & Tiaras" - Beauty Pageants Need To Go!

Why Honey Boo Boo is not the girl we should be idolizing...

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Honey Boo Boo is famous for her extravagant persona, extreme temper tantrums, overwhelming attitude, and intense sassiness. All of these qualities are shared by many other young girls who participate in beauty pageants - not just in "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" but also in TLC's notorious "Toddlers & Tiaras," a show that depicts the horrors of little girls who have dedicated their childhood to winning the crown.

These shows, and the pageants they glorify do nothing but force girls to grow up too quickly, send negative messages to viewers and participants and pose health risks for the girls involved.

Therefore, beauty pageants for young girls should be abolished.

The hypersexualization that takes place in these pageants is staggering. Not only are young girls' minds molded into having a superficial view on beauty, but they are also waxed, spray-tanned, given wigs, retouched in pictures, injected with Botox and fillers, and painted with fake abs and even breasts.

Sexy is the goal, not cute. Girls of ages 2-12 wear skimpy clothing, accentuating only their underdeveloped bodies. A 4-year-old girl on "Toddlers and Tiaras" once impersonated Dolly Parton with fake breasts, another dressed as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (so basically, a prostitute), and another even pretended to smoke a cigarette to look like Sandy from Grease.

In Venezuela, people are so obsessed with pageants that they send their daughters to "Miss Factories," to train them to win. At these factories, underage girls undergo plastic surgery and hormone therapy to delay puberty in attempts to grow taller. In addition, they often get mesh sewn onto their tongues so that they are physically incapable of eating solid food. This idea of taking horrific measures to look slimmer is not unique to Venezuela. A former Miss USA explained that she would "slather on hemorrhoid ointment, wrap herself up with Saran wrap, and run on a treadmill with an incline for 30 minutes to tighten her skin and waist up." Many countries, including France and Israel have banned child beauty pageants because it is "hypersexualizing." Why has the US yet to follow in their footsteps?

Additionally, the pageants strip their young contestants of a childhood by basically putting them through harsh child labor. Oftentimes, girls as young as 18 months old participate in pageants. There is no way that a girl under 2 years old has the capacity to decide for herself that she wants to participate in a beauty pageant. Not to mention, education often takes a backseat in pageant girls' lives as long practice sessions interfere with sleep and homework. This causes long-term distress for the contestants, including widespread unemployment for former pageant girls.

Moreover, these pageants tie self-worth and self-esteem to attractiveness. They teach girls that natural beauty and intelligence are not enough, when in actuality they should be doing the opposite. In fact, 72% of pageant girls hire coaches to train girls to be more "attractive."

Finally, these pageants pose potent health risks for the girls competing. Not only do intense rehearsals interfere with their sleep cycles, but they are also impacted by the harmful methods taken to keep them awake. One example is Honey Boo Boo's "go go juice" - AKA a mixture of Mountain Dew and Red Bull. She is known for drinking this continuously throughout pageant days to stay awake and energetic - but the health risks associated with the drinks, let alone for such a young girl, are completely ignored.

And, the future health problems associated with pageantry cannot be looked past. Participating in beauty pageants as kids leads to eating disorders, perfectionism, depression - in fact, at least 6% suffer from depression while competing. "The Princess Syndrome," as Psychology Today calls it relates to a small study published in 2005 that showed that former childhood beauty pageant contestants had higher rates of body dissatisfaction. This sense of dissatisfaction can so easily be translated to more severe mental and physical health issues, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. The average BMI (Body Mass Index) of a Beauty Contestant in the US in 1930 was 20.8, which is universally in the middle of the "healthy" range. In 2010, it was 16.9, which is considered underweight for anyone.

So, despite the entertainment these shows and pageants provide, they should most definitely be stopped due to the immense amount of issues they cause for those involved and those who watch.

Although Honey Boo Boo is (sadly) considered one of America's sweethearts, her experience in pageantry has certainly not been a positive influence in her life nor in the lives of her fans - and this is the case for nearly all young pageant girls.

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