Shortly after taking the oath of office and swearing to uphold and protect the Constitution, Donald Trump took a weekend off to revel in the afterglow...or let the massive protests taking place across the nation fizzle out. Either way, before sneaking away for a weekend of vacation, something Sean Spicer swore he’d never do, Trump pushed through two agenda items that indicate the direction his administration is going to take.
The first was to eliminate a mortgage fee cut that is popular with thousands of first time home buyers. Effectively, this is a tax increase. Donald Trump’s first tangible action in office was a tax increase. The cut was put in place in order to help offset recent increases in mortgage rates and likely would have saved the average homeowner $500 in their first year on a $200,000 mortgage. This is a subtle punch in the stomach for first time home buyers and working class families. However, President Trump wasn’t finished.
His second act in office was to delay the Department of Justice’s case against a Texas discriminatory voting law. The hearing was scheduled to begin on Tuesday and the DoJ was prepared to make a case that the state law intentionally sought to discriminate against Latino and African-American voters. The case has been in the courts for four years.
A ruling in support of the plaintiff would have set the legal precedent that anybody with a conscience has known about Voter ID laws. They are intentionally designed to disenfranchise minority voters. They are inherently undemocratic and are designed to protect from the virtually nonexistent threat of illegal voting.
The rest of Trump’s changes were mostly cosmetic. He began setting up the dominoes to allow for the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act. He made cosmetic changes to the Oval Office by installing gold drapes, removing a rug with quotes from four presidents and Martin Luther King Jr., and reinstalling a bust of Winston Churchill.
He also made sweeping changes to the Whitehouse.gov website. Trump’s team removed pages on the website about climate change, civil rights, health care, LGBT issues and replaced them with pages about “Bringing Back American Jobs and Growth” and “Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community”. On a much more concerning note, his team also uploaded pages pledging “America First Foreign Policy” and “America First Energy Plan”.
For those of you not familiar, “America First” was the slogan of the America First Committee, a group founded in 1940 that openly opposed American involvement in World War II and the New Deal reforms put into place by FDR. They attracted support from various groups from all positions on the political spectrum, from future President Gerald Ford to Sargent Shriver. The group took on an increasing anti-semitic tone, culminating in a 1941 speech by spokesman Charles Lindburgh. The slogan was later adopted by Pat Buchanan during his run for President in 1999. He was rapidly denounced as a “Hitler Lover” by an upstart politician that had just renounced his Republican affiliation to seek the Reform Party nomination, that politician was Donald Trump.
From denouncing America First rhetoric, to adopting it as his own, Donald Trump has gone full circle on his political beliefs. He has no concrete ideology to stick to. He is only interested in serving himself and his own interests. He has demonstrated this by refusing to divest himself from his businesses. Already his administration has flouted the norms of conflict of interest and Donald himself is a ticking time bomb of violations of the emoluments clause of the constitution, despite his poorly interpreted legal justification. The biggest tenant in Trump Tower, the Bank of China, has a lease that expires in 2019.
Already, President Trump’s team of propagandists are hard at work playing their own version of the Russian Firehose of Falsehood model. Press Secretary Sean Spicer gave a farcical press conference using false statistics, which was then backed up by Kellyanne Conway, who disgustingly suggested they were merely “alternative facts”, or as they used to be known as, lies. This is exactly what Americans can anticipate being fed for the next four years.
Americans are going to be assigned the Sisyphean task of sifting through the outright lies, attacks on the middle class, curtailing of the civil rights of minorities, and cherry picking of policies from all areas of the political spectrum. Small government conservatives are going to get on board with a long overdue trillion dollar infrastructure program that will be riddled with private-public partnerships that lead to inefficiency and corruption. At the same time, they are pledging to make token cuts to solvent programs such as Planned Parenthood and the National Endowment of the Arts. Cuts that do not have a meaningful impact on the budget, but have the token appearance of being tough on big government.
Going forward, Americans have to stay as active and engages as they were when millions took to the public spaces of America on Saturday. We must vigilantly remain attentive to the changes the Trump Administration is attempting to slip through the staggering mire of bullshit they are creating. We must shout down the rise of ultra nationalists, America firsters, fascists, and actual Nazis feeling empowered by the hateful rhetoric espoused by President Trump. We must do everything in our power to take back Congress in the mid-term elections. We must increase the margin of popular vote victory and use and abuse the phrase One-Term Trump. We must protect and improve institutions like public education and the free press that have an empowering, democratizing effect on our society.
We cannot idly sit on the sidelines. We are all being called into the game. So who’s got next? I do. Do you?