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.