President Trump’s tumultuous first year in office

BRIDGET EARLY | OPINION COLUMNIST | bfearly@butler.edu

One year ago, Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. In the following months, our nation has entered a new age of politically charged tweets, outspoken hateful rhetoric, social injustices and an unsettling fear of what is true.

Since Trump’s ascent to the Oval Office, the nation has witnessed a radically different chain and method of command that directly contrasts the policies of the Obama administration.

As we head into the second year of Trump’s presidency, the policies and rhetoric established this past year will serve as the foundation for new growth, which makes it vital to understand the social, political and economic fractures destabilizing this nation’s infrastructure.

Trump, who had very little previous involvement in politics before his decision to campaign for the 2016 presidential election, has changed the game in Washington, D.C., with a slew of aggressive, uncompromising new policies. This approach, combined with his inability to reach agreements with democrats and independents in Congress, has resulted in severe polarization and distrust in the government.

The Trump Administration has made a point of prioritizing legislation focused on groups of people. Between the immigration ban, proposed Muslim registry, transgender military service ban, discontinuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and other statements across various outlets, Trump has enforced the xenophobic rhetoric he advertised throughout his campaign.

In the past year, the president’s executive orders and legislative demands have centered around the construction of “the wall,” a massive barrier he aims to fund and erect on the border between Mexico and the United States as a way to deter “bad hombres” from entering the country.

Trump has been very clear in his disdain for people of Mexican or Latin American origins, and continues to push for deportation and retraction of grace stays despite the repercussions it will have on society and on the economy.

Established in 2012, DACA protects children who come to the United States, and grants them the ability to work and go to school. Approximately 800,000 DACA-protected people cumulatively add around $22.7 billion annually to the United States’ gross domestic product.

By rescinding DACA, Trump will actively damage the economy and infrastructure of the country he swore to protect, ruining the lives of nearly one million people who know nothing of the country they came from and whose home, loyalties and contributions extend solely to the United States.

Haley Stephens, a first-year exploratory studies major, emphasizes that although these rollbacks may seem foreign when they do not reach you, the actual consequences cripple thousands of people.

“One of my good friends is living in the United States on DACA,” Stephens said. “She can’t travel outside the country anymore, meaning she can no longer visit family and she is constantly afraid she could be forced to leave the only country she knows.”

Trump’s lack of social and diplomatic grace has also been the cause of much unrest. Unlike previous presidents, Trump utilizes Twitter as a direct and primary route of communication with the public. His unfiltered, diplomatically tactless tweets have caused more problems than they have solved.

Morgan Klase, a first-year political science major, said despite her conservative stance in politics, she recognizes Trump deviates from the norm in a way that threatens the stability of the government.

“He obviously wasn’t a politician before, and I still wouldn’t consider him one,” Klase said. “I didn’t agree with Obama’s policies, but I really liked and respected his diplomatic interactions, grace and poise in the office.”

Trump’s outlook on society, particularly on racial and religious minorities and women, has ushered in a startling era that sees innumerable instances of outwardly racist, sexist, xenophobic comments and actions, including threats and violence.

Throughout his tweets, in his speeches, and in his policy, President Trump has made it very clear that some groups of Americans are less accepted in society than others; the rhetoric directed at women, minorities and the LGBTQ+ community has aimed to ostracize or eliminate them from traditional society.

One of the most unsettling and upsetting facets of the president’s social stance is his silence and careful apathy toward the growth and increased organized action of white supremacist groups, including branches of neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members.

Following the Charlottesville riots, where three people were killed and more than 40 injured in rage-filled protests carried out by armed white supremacists, Trump responded after nearly a day of silence with a half-hearted call for an end to the “hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.”

When backlash for his official statement grew severe, Trump defended his comment with the argument that there were “very fine people on both sides,” an excuse for violent white supremacist branches and clusters of neo-Nazis who caused fatalities with their aggressive, hateful representations of their opinions.

The outright hate expressed by these groups, along with numerous other individuals throughout the year, has demonstrated how emboldened America has become when expressing opinions that are nothing but detrimental and threatening to other communities of Americans.

With our president as a role model, the amount of hateful rhetoric in tweets, online and even in public places has grown exponentially, and the number of hate crimes has grown exponentially; from January to November of 2017, the number of hate crimes cumulatively committed across major cities grew by 20 percent, according to date compiled by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino.

Sam Osborn, a junior recording industries technology major, is adamant that Trump’s rhetoric is destructive and goes against the founding principles of this nation.

If the supposed ‘leader of the free world’ consistently alienates a wide range of groups that make up the country,” Osborn said, “it challenges the nature of the office as a representation of the country at large.”

Throughout his campaign and his first year in office, Trump attacked his opponents on a personal level; in pointed attacks on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s health and ability to command a nation, Trump undermined the confidence of middle-ground voters and demonstrated his disdain for women in positions of power.

Despite a disastrous and chaotic first year of Trump’s presidency, the actions and reactions of thousands of naysayers have proven to be the bright spots keeping us afloat. If you stand for equality and justice, continue to speak out, stand up and continue to make a difference.

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