Trump’s first 100 days
January 23, 2017
It is an unprecedented time in America. On June 16, 2015, a businessman known for his explosive personality, lavish hotel chains and fascinating helmet of hair now stands on Capitol Hill as the figurehead and leader of our country. Donald J. Trump is accompanied by a “cabinet of horrors,” a Republican majority in the House and Senate for the first time in almost ninety years and rhetoric that has left many American citizens shaken and fearful.
On Jan. 20, 2017, a man took office who called all Mexicans rapists, who joked that you could grab women by their genitalia and who publicly stated he could shoot someone on the streets of New York without losing popularity. Our nation has never been so dramatically split by political party. Social stratifications and tensions that have been ignored and brushed aside as fake by the incoming administration are not-so-quietly rising to the surface. Foreign policy hangs in the balance, or perhaps simply in Russia’s lap.
It is an unprecedented time in America.
Historically, presidents-elect put forth a plan of action during the campaign that they will enact during the first 100 days of their presidency. Covered religiously by journalists, these plans (and what actually is accomplished) set the tone for the rest of their time in the White House. In his plan, titled “Donald Trump’s Contract with the American Voter,” which he released in October, Trump includes restarting construction on the Keystone Pipeline, cancelling all federal funding to sanctuary cities, cancelling “billions in payments” to climate change programs sponsored by the United Nations and instituting the “End Illegal Immigrations Act,” which includes his famous wall (and includes the detail that Mexico will be paying for it). Those actions are not even the half of it.
Even though most of us at the high school are below voting age, it is crucial that we remain aware of the dramatic changes reckoned to take place in our country and in our world. Over the next 100 days, I hope to share with you some of my opinions and ideas about the current political climate and what that means for us as young people. It’s true, we can not vote, but that by no means equates that we should be silent.
A Different Kind of Inauguration
Regardless of personal opinion or emotion on Inauguration Day, it was a day of firsts. President Donald J. Trump is the oldest president to be inaugurated. He is the first president who has never served in political or military office. He is entering with one of the lowest approval ratings in history. And he has the unique circumstance of more people attending a protest against his inauguration than the inaugural ceremony itself.
On Jan 21, an estimated 470,000 people gathered on the capitol’s streets and marched in protest of President Trump’s racist, homophobic, misogynistic, anti-everything-but-cis-White-male rhetoric and promised agenda. Over 600 sister marches joined the huge crowds in D.C., including the Boston Women’s March for America; their website is currently reporting that more than 200,000 Bostonians gathered on the Common sporting signs, “pussy hats” and other feminist paraphernalia. It seems as though a demonstration this pervasive would be too big to fail. However, much to the nation’s chagrin (though perhaps not surprise), the Trump administration seems to be attempting to ignore it—or at least, smother its existence with falsified information.
On Saturday afternoon, Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed that the crowd on Friday was the largest ever to witness an inauguration, and that the photos that clearly show a much larger crowd at Obama’s election in 2008 was due to the reporters taking photos that were “intentionally framed in a way…to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall.” Spicer went on to scold the journalists in the room, and accuse them of not covering important national issues. Earlier that day, President Trump spoke to members of the Central Intelligence Agency, where he referred to journalists as being “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.”
Apparently Trump is trying to force a new definition of journalistic integrity onto American reporters. It is no longer about telling the truth; it is about telling his truth. If followed, this policy will make news sources despairingly similar to the Trump campaign itself. In this new America, it doesn’t matter what the evidence is—it doesn’t matter what the photos from the inauguration look like, nor what the reported numbers were. One can simply fabricate whatever best suits his image and publically shame whoever disagrees. With a mentality like that and the right team to sweep up the leftovers behind you, heck, you might even become president.
This attack on journalists directly contradicts President Trump’s claim in his inaugural address that he is giving power back to the American people and taking it out of the hands of the Washington elite. It doesn’t matter if the capital is filled with politicians or business moguls, elitism and egotism is universal.
The one good thing is the people did take their power, though perhaps not in the way Trump would have wanted. Just as some Americans exercised their right of assembly on the National Mall to show support for the President on Friday, other Americans used the exact same right to protest. These marches and the incredible momentum behind them give me hope for powerful reactions to the injustices that may be committed by America’s new administration. I am proud of the honest news coverage most media sources attempted to deliver this weekend, despite backlash from the Oval Office. Integrity is something that politics has always seemed to lack, especially in the recent election. It seems that now, more than ever, honesty needs to spread from the ground up.
Valentina Rojas/Sagamore Staff
President Trump signed an order that banned immigrants from seven Middle Eastern countries on Jan. 27. The speed at which people were affected by the executive order was halting and sickeningly rapid. American citizens who were in the air when the order was signed suddenly were denied access into the country when they touched the ground.
From our own ground level, it seems that we can’t stop these executive orders from happening. The will of the executive branch is so far removed from the pleas and needs of so many American citizens. But the reaction is just as important as the action itself. While Trump may be able to place gag rules on the other two branches, he cannot stifle the electorate.
Here’s how we know: The outrage over the entry-ban has been visceral and protest followed almost as soon as the effects began.. When the news of the detainees was spread online, demonstrations erupted. There was fear that after the Women’s March, people would lose the desire to mobilize, to participate. This fear proved to be false as hundreds gathered outside major airports such as JFK and Dulles to publicly advocate for detained Middle Eastern Americans. In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh and Senator Elizabeth Warren joined crowds in Logan Airport, and a large-scale protest in Copley Square on Jan 29, which local news sources credited to the Council on American-Islamic Relations with its organization. These actions–duct-taping a ruler to a poster board to make a sign and chanting on a crowded street–are beginning to feel natural, habitual.
This second wave of protest is indication that many Americans have developed a reflexive instinct to combat the horrors slinking out of the White House. The publicity that these protests garner make it impossible for the administration to ignore them, or at least look idiotic while trying–I’m thinking about the photographic evidence that made it impossible to claim that the inauguration drew a larger crowd than the Women’s March on Washington. Though they may try, they cannot dispute the existence of thousands of protesters.
Though the positive effects of this new, immediate resistance are proudly noted, it is duly important to analyze where they are lacking. For example, police cooperation and support have helped these protests remain peaceful. Writer Jia Tolentino noted that the atmosphere created by police was noticeably different than, say, a Black Lives Matter protest, where they may show up in higher numbers and with more protective gear due to racial bias and prejudices. Though the marches have been diverse, White, cisgendered women have been given an elevated platform, leading many to forget inclusivity. Even within these new eruptions of activism, there is still systematic racism. It is crucial moving forward that White protesters realize their privileges, even in a space as radical and seemingly inclusive as a march.
The fire is being harnessed; action is being met with action. These demonstrations, which feel far more American to me than any legislation passed this month in Washington, are hopefully the first steps in a new era of grassroots change.
You can’t mess with the press
I am sick of the phrase “fake news” and the way it is tossed around so cavalierly by the current administration. It makes it impossible to tell what is real and what they simply do not want you to know.
Free press functions due to a system of give and receive. The reporters rely on administration and press secretaries to deliver accurate situational depictions and credible statistics and facts. The administration then must trust the press to use that information in a way that will accurately and without bias convey the situation to the public. However, the President and his staff have picked a cyclical fight with major news sources. Due to rising allegations of fake news and bias, the administration treats the press with hostility. The press attempts to convey that hostility to the public, and then the press staff is able to use those articles as evidence towards biased, harsh reporting. Thus, they treat the press with further contempt and scorn, and the cycle continues. Communication is crucial in order for democracy to function.
The electorate deserve to be informed about all levels of their government so that they can effectively vote or petition. A major vehicle for that communication is the press. News sources need access to information about legislation, executive orders, foreign relations and whatever else is going on in our government to paint an honest picture of the current political climate. My national news sources are companies like CNN, NBC, the New York Times and the Huffington Post, all deemed reliable and respectable publications. Never before have I seen denial on this scale, where even these sources are restricted from full knowledge of what goes on behind the closed White House doors.
Once the press is incapable of drawing away the curtain for the public, the Trump administration is using a bread and circus tactic to get away with dangerous measures. They are distracting the American public with flashy, sudden and detrimental executive orders in order to further push their agenda in the House of Representatives and the Senate, with the press always one step behind. If you need to distract, you probably have something to hide.
We need to pay attention to what is going on at every level of our government, but access to information is crucial. Coverage of the House and the Senate has always been inconsistent due to an often lack of packageable marketing, but never due to the distracting, unprecedented shenanigans of the electoral branch. We cannot rely on catchy hashtags like #ShePersisted to draw our attention the rest of government; they are actively creating legislation that insidiously affects our country.
The New York Times recently released a short, 30-second advertisement featuring a plain white background and several statements rapid-fire statements starting with “the truth is,” the last one being “the truth is now more important than ever.”
Restricting the press restricts the human right to be informed and to then act based on that information. It is not the first time the truth has been restricted in America, nor will it be the last, but it currently is a topical source of public controversy.
Journalism has always been a controversial profession, and it is up to everyone to ensure we face active obstacles to the truth with staunch resolve.