By: KENDALL ASBELL
Many things can be said about President Donald Trump’s first month in office. But with all this talk of “fake news” it is important that we stick to the facts. So before I continue any further, here is a list of some fun facts for you about Donald Trump’s presidency thus far:
-He reintroduced the Global Gag Rule, which stipulates that NGOs in countries receiving funds for medical aid from the US may not either perform abortions or provide information regarding abortions.
-Most of the previous White House Staff Advisors were fired.
-General Michael Flynn was fired over his troubling relationship with the Russian government.
-The White House removed any digital information about their commitment to protecting LGBTQ Rights and The Climate Action Plan.
-The USDA website page that listed abusive facilities to animals (such as puppy mills) was permanently deleted. In order to get the same information you must now fill out and send in forms that can take weeks or months to be processed.
-Scott Pruitt, an open and ardent critic of the Environmental Protection Agency, was confirmed to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
-House Republicans are taking steps to stop funding for Medicaid, suggesting that states start funding the program themselves, which will likely lead to a significant roll-back of the program.
-There is absolute proof that the people within the Trump Campaign were communicating with Russian intelligence officials during the election.
-In Mexico a Senator has proposed a bill to stop purchasing corn from the US and instead purchase from Argentina or other South American countries. If enacted, this would likely lead to a $1-2 billion loss to American corn farmers.
-The cost of security and travel for the Trump administration is estimated to cost taxpayers hundred of millions of dollars. Several times more than any other presidents in recent history.
-$500,000 of taxpayer’s money is spent everyday to protect the NYC location of Trump Towers.
What is interesting about Donald Trump’s presidency thus far is that he has immediately taken action on many of the promises he made during his campaign. Many presidents will often restructure their promises or hold off on implementing them too soon into their term.
This gives the president time to develop a better relationship with citizens who perhaps did not vote for the current President. But Trump is doing something called “playing to his base,” the good citizen Republicans that elected him as president.
They wanted less regulation on healthcare, so he, and the Republican-led-Congress are effectively getting rid of Medicaid. They wanted protection from terrorists, so the travel ban was put in place. They wanted illegal immigrants out of the country, so now mass deportations are occurring throughout the country.
The hastiness in carrying out so many changes perhaps even caught his supporters off guard. The supporters who whispered during the campaign “well, he won’t really go that far,” are now realizing that, yes, indeed he will.
The mass appeal of Trump is a concept that political scientists are still trying to comprehend. But the answer might not be so much that he himself was appealing, but rather, he knew what would appeal to a certain large group of people and he played to it.
For years there has been unrest among Republican citizens who were mystified by the handling of the party by its leaders. “People were very unhappy for a whole host of reasons,” IUSB history professor Jonathan Nashel said, describing Trump’s rise. “They wanted to basically hand the keys to someone else, even someone as radically different as Donald Trump.”
And this is exactly what happened.
Millions were surprised on Election Day. Despite the fact that this was considered by political scientists to be “Republican year,” no one expected someone with no governmental experience to actually win the election, even if running as a Republican.
But in the end, America is a two party country and past Republican voters came home to roost when it was time to cast their ballots. Despite the many negative incidences that occurred during the campaign, any one of which would normally have derailed past presidential candidates, Trump prevailed.
As Political Science professor Steven Gerencser put it “The desire for change, the desire to shake things up, the desire to bring some new voices in and new perspectives overcame any nervousness or anxiety about someone who didn’t have experience and how he might do.”
And perhaps “shaking things up” is exactly what both parties needed. Igniting a fire under younger generations to become politicians and activists and revitalizing the lust to be an active part of our democracy. “The public has a tremendous amount of responsibility to find or generate opinions and ideas,” said professor Yuri Obata. “Otherwise we are just a massive audience waiting to get fed information and obey.”
Obata is a communications professor at IUSB and she has noticed recent tensions between students who do not align politically. She reminds us that “In the Marketplace of Ideas we are supposed to discuss what matters to the public, and we must hear every side so the public can be trusted to make a rational decision for our democratic society.”
And that is exactly what President Trump did. He put his ideas in the marketplace and voiced them loudly. He exercised his First Amendment freedom of speech rights. He won, in large part, because of what was enshrined in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights and what has made America great since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1791: Freedom of speech.
We must all remember that such freedom extends to all of us. If you want to speak up for what you believe in then you should, but you must also be prepared to listen and learn. We live in interesting times indeed. But, perhaps now more than ever, it is a time to get involved politically. It is a time to exercise your First Amendment rights. And, perhaps most importantly, it is a time to lend your voice, and your ears, to the marketplace of ideas.