I will preface the rest of this post by including something of a disclaimer, and by clarifying some points immediately. Never in our country's history has a president been viewed in a divine light. Presidents of the United States are just that, elected officials - not "supreme leaders." Our presidents do not rule, they govern; our heads of state do not coerce - they lead, and by proper example.
We expect the presidency to carry itself in a manner exuding integrity and high moral fiber. That notion is now officially under threat, and those grievances against humanity must be met head-on with according public dissent. Anyone suggesting the highest public office in this nation is above criticism could not be more misguided. Donald Trump and his policies should be subject to the most fervent skepticism, even if his thin skin does not lend itself to constructive outrage. Despite the perpetual cynicism revolving around politics, we demand the best from every presidency. To anyone in disagreement with these guiding principles, you can kindly take your business to the nearest authoritarian country. It deeply disturbs me to declare that you may not need to travel very far.
I have written before on how we can take steps to work together as citizens and constituents in this country. Devolving into intellectual adolescence by dubbing one another "libtards" and other derogatory terms is not the path to take. Living our lives divided on a partisan basis will not encourage progress. Many of us heard of plans for the White House to become a leader of unification. Nothing has been done to help achieve this goal; in fact, we have taken steps backwards. Aloof glances being shared in public, social media firestorms raging fiercely through the late hours as instigators burn the midnight oil. This juvenile taunting based on who prevailed and who did not has run its course - in fact, it renders us all losers. Again, this is a viewpoint that should not require repetition.
Turning our focus to the Oval Office, the initial wave of executive orders have left many citizens feeling personally attacked. The Trump Administration has justifiably caught plenty of flack for its rhetoric, and has since deemed it necessary to substantiate that rhetoric via action. Here are some major topics of concern, ones that will have many implications moving forward:
The Women's March on Washington
"Why didn't these people vote?" Such a simple quote, but rife with ignorance. It is completely asinine to suggest that protesters were not participating voters on November 8th, although assumptions seem to rule the day anymore. Peaceful demonstrations, especially in the female context, have become a hallmark of American democracy since the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. The Declaration of Sentiments, born from that drive for equality, became the beacon of hope for women seeking egalitarian treatment moving forward. Women in this country have fought adamantly for the right to vote and participate in various socio-political activities. That guarantee is something that has not been awarded in vain.
The March signifies many things: fear, anger, and distrust. There is a fear that initiatives like the Mexico City Policy will lead to further defunding and debilitation of Planned Parenthood, and will have negative health impacts on mothers both foreign and domestic. The notion that maternal care will be crippled instantly transports us to the days prior to Roe vs. Wade. There is anger that the personal decisions representative of the entire female population in this country are being regulated by old, white men. There are nothing indicating respect from the now-incumbent administration towards women's rights - aside from yet another Trump tweet signaling a supposed 'change of heart,' on the heels of his previous quote. An administration leads by proactively preventing conflict, not engaging in damage control that appears disingenuous. Lastly (and I am sure there is much more to be said), there is a lack of trust regarding the notion that our federal government will take women's rights into full account when advancing policy decisions.
When Science Becomes State-Regulated
In addition to his negative dealings with the press, Trump also issued a statement placing a gag order on agency scientists and social media accounts. Those who work under the federal umbrella are not permitted to share findings with the public via mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, and mainstream media. When reading between the lines, this essentially equates to, "No scientific findings or research will be shared publicly if it does not advance our administration's narrative." For years, we scoffed at and bemoaned the way in which foreign dictators controlled the spread of information (and misinformation). Such an authoritarian approach to governance will not be tolerated by both the legal and scientific communities. As outlined by provisions within the Freedom of Information Act, government agencies must be transparent in reporting their findings, and disclosing the efficiency of their operations. This, alongside the fact that American taxpayer dollars help fund new R&D initiatives, creates a very problematic scenario. This country cannot be fed information that is biased and misguided from the highest reaches of our government. Orwell is turning over in his grave as we entertain the presence of 'alternative facts.'
Childish Exchanges and Wars With the Media
It is no secret that the White House has now become characterized by its contentious relationship with various mainstream media outlets. President Trump has been very vocal in his criticisms of the New York Times, and CNN in particular. Just because media outlets do not paint you in a flattering light is not reason enough for a clash. Information is reported in response to current events and decisions that hold mainstream appeal. Perhaps it would be prudent for the Administration to not engage in activities that cast shadows. Trump himself regularly praises Fox News for its reporting, often in response to negative remarks from CNN. A Republican president supporting a conservative news outlet? That, in itself, is hardly newsworthy.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is also no stranger to bouts with the media. When controversy - if one could call it that - arose over the size of the inauguration crowd vs. the crowd from Obama's, he took the stand in defense. In addition to what became a frustrated rant, Trump himself released statements about the crowd size and TV audience sizes in comparison to Obama's inauguration. Long story short, such immature dealings based on insecurity are putting much more important issues on the back-burner.
Why do Voter Fraud Investigations Even Matter Now?
Trump himself has been on record many times pointing out that the election is over, thus declaring him the victor. Recently, a report surfaced stating that the Administration is opening up an investigation into voter fraud, alleging the casting of massive quantities of illegal votes. Moreover, these claims are unsubstantiated, lacking support of any telling evidence. Fraud and rigging have been topics of fierce debate during and after the election. This appears to be in retaliation to the evidence of Russian hacking, as a method of saving face. Once again, this is a waste of time and precious resources that could be allocated elsewhere.
The Trump Administration is already being defined by its rocky start in just a few days following his official swearing-in ceremony. The changes that have already come via executive action have had very damaging consequences in terms of equality, human rights protections, and upholding tenets of our Bill of Rights. If this continues to move forward in unmitigated fashion, there can be some dire outcomes to be expected for our country. The moves to protest peacefully and act politically are more important now than they have ever been as our rights are being tested. I urge anyone with a voice and strong opinion to speak out; our voices will always be important in shaping public policy. In addition, contact your congressmen and women to relay any concerns. Civic engagement has the power to protect our core democratic values in turbulent times. Such progress can only be achieved when working together, while keeping the common good in mind.