In Donald Trump’s first week in office, his administration has taken swift action to undo many of his predecessor’s key accomplishments and also enact some of his major campaign promises. President Trump has thus far issued 5 executive orders, 9 memoranda, and one proclamation. These actions have initiated the construction of the long-anticipated Border Wall™, resurrected the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL Pipeline, halted the hiring of federal civilian employees, decreased the enforcement of the Affordable Care Act pending repeal and/or replacement, have withdrawn the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership, cancelled foreign aid to groups providing contraceptive and abortion services abroad, loosened environmental regulations for domestic companies, fired a host of employees from executive departments and agencies, and will deprive sanctuary cities of federal funding and expedite the removal proceedings of undocumented immigrants.
Citing the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Trump administration has also issued a temporary ban on all immigration from seven predominantly-Muslim countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen) and has suspended the Syrian refugee program indefinitely. Some Muslim countries noticeably missing from the ban include the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia–countries that were home to the 9/11 hijackers and countries in which Trump has business dealings. This ban has left many green card and visa holders stuck abroad–at the very least for the next three months of so and has shuttered the hopes of many refugees hoping to flee their collapsing country.
Trump’s ban was received with massive backlash from non-profit organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Oxfam, companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Apple, and also protesters in airports across the country. On Saturday, US District Court Judge issued a temporary stay on the deportation of those detained after ACLU lawyers filed suit on behalf of two Iraqi nationals that were detained at New York’s JFK Airport. Although the ban has been been vilified by many as a Muslim ban, the Trump administration has defended it by saying that “This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe.” However, the Trump admin illegally promised preferential treatment to Christian refugees in Syria, thus explicitly making this a Muslim ban.
Regardless of its legality, the ban will only only make the devastation and carnage in the Middle East–particularly, Syria–much worse. It will undoubtedly polarize the situation even further, making the apparent divide between the West and Islam wider and wider. This plays right into the hands of Islamic extremist organizations like the Daesh and simply emboldens their recruiting efforts. Trump’s actions will not benefit our country and will only hurt innocent people fleeing abject violence in a complete betrayal on the very foundation we were built upon.
In short, Donald Trump has fulfilled many of his campaign promises through brute force while his Republican lackeys in Congress enable him after lamenting President Obama’s own executive actions for eight years. Yet it remains to be seen how many of them will hold up in a court of law. There are concerns that the executive orders have not undergone the proper review from the actual agencies implementing the policies, whereas President Obama “ran executive orders through a painstaking weeks-long process of soliciting feedback from agencies and briefing lawmakers” according to a Politico report.
It remains unclear exactly what rights states have versus the federal government in regards to immigration laws and Trump simply can’t fund his plans without getting Congressional approval–something fiscal conservatives might be reluctant about. It also remains to be seen how exactly the Trump administration would coerce Mexico to pay for the Border Wall™, though he indicated that the American people will be swindled and have to pay for the wall twice–upfront and in the form of a 20 percent import tax on Mexican goods. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has reaffirmed President Trump that his country will not pay for the wall and told him that they will no longer discuss the issue publicly.
Officials from California–arguably the most progressive states in the country–have also rebuked Donald Trump’s attempts to undermine their policies and have promised to fight the Trump administration’s overreach every step of the way. While the legality of Trump’s promise to defund sanctuary cities is uncertain, the 2012 Supreme Court case National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius ruled that the government cannot force a state to comply to federal policy by threatening to withhold its funds.
Aside from the legislative stuff, Donald Trump and his administration have also spent their first week in office spreading outright lies, quieting internal dissent, and gaslighting any critiques they have faced from the media, the public, or other politicians–even some Republicans themselves.
On Saturday, his first full day in office, the President wasted no time in whining about the “unfair” media coverage of his inauguration–infuriated that President Obama’s first inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington both had a better turnout. Trump was so bothered by this, in fact, that he allegedly put pressure on the National Parks Service (NPS) to publish pictures of the inauguration with the intent of disproving the media’s reporting, causing the NPS to quietly delete a side-by-side picture comparison of Trump and Obama’s inaugurations they previously retweeted.
President Trump also spoke to the intelligence community that he constantly undermined for the first time on Saturday. He used his time at the Langley headquarters to not only boast about himself, his victory, and inauguration, but to also blast the “dishonest” media, saying that they were responsible for provoking a “feud” between the intelligence community and himself. Despite previously expressing serious skepticism on their findings and motives, he promised them that “there is nobody that feels stronger about this community and the CIA than Donald Trump”.
In his first briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer continued to insist that “Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall”. Though Spicer later explained that it is the administration’s “intention’s never to lie to you”, he refused to walk back his incorrect statements. To further emphasize Mr. Spicer’s apparent disconnect with reality, he recently retweeted an Onion News Network video of him, seemingly without the knowledge that the Onion is notorious for their satire.
You nailed it. Period! https://t.co/AUmS1C222b
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) January 29, 2017
In the same vein, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway coined the term “alternative-facts” during an appearance on NBC last week to describe the discrepancy between the White House’s views on the crowd sizes and the views of pretty much everyone else. Anchor Chuck Todd laughed in disbelief and informed Conway that “alternative facts” are in fact, not facts. Soon after Conway’s statement, sales of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 swelled on Amazon.
This modus operandi of repeating a lie enough times until it becomes true is a hallmark of both the novel and Trump’s campaign, which is showing no signs of letting up. While dismissing intelligence reports indicating that Russia had a role in his election, President Trump has continued to reiterate the false, unsubstantiated claims that millions of “illegal” votes were cast against him and has promised a “major investigation” into the matter.
I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and former head of the far-right publication Breitbart, has also seen his power and influence in the White House grow. In accordance with the Trump administration’s newspeak policy, Bannon denounced the mainstream media as “the opposition party” and suggested that it “keep its mouth shut and listen”. Soon afterwards, Trump picked Bannon to be one of his top advisers on the National Security Council (NCS) while simultaneously diluting the power and influence of the director of national intelligence and the joint chiefs. This move has elicited concern and scorn from security officials of previous administrations, including chairman of the Armed Services Committee Senator John McCain (R-AZ), former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and former National Security Adviser and US ambassador Susan Rice.
This is stone cold crazy. After a week of crazy. Who needs military advice or intell to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan, DPRK? https://t.co/Mmyc139w3M
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) January 29, 2017
From Trump’s election in November up until his inauguration earlier this month, many people said to themselves and others that though he is divisive fearmonger who is unfit to be president of this country, we should give him a chance because he is our president. But though it has only been a week, President Trump has given us a substantial hint as to how he will likely run his administration–with brute force and deception. He will obscure the lines of communication between his administration, the press, and the public as well as continue to propagate the distrust, paranoia, and division that fueled his presidential campaign.
However, American people throughout the country have mobilized en masse against President Trump’s actions and have made their dissatisfaction very clear. They will not sit idly by as Trump and the Republican party attempt to roll the progress that people have struggled vigorously to earn in this country. President Trump and his administration can continue to steamroll through their agenda, but they must keep in mind that they will be challenged both in and out of the courtrooms. They will not shred the multi-colored, multi-textured fabric that our American society is composed of–no matter how strongly they try to pull. While Donald Trump has arguably brought out the worst aspects of culture in the United States, there remains a shinning beacon of hope that our response to that challenge will bring out our best aspects as well.