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Trump’s troubling first month

| Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I’ll be the first person to tell you that I didn’t expect Donald Trump to be elected a few weeks ago. I honestly thought that Hillary Clinton was a strong enough candidate and that Donald had made far too many mistakes (a light word to describe all of the things that he’s said), and people wouldn’t be able to look past everything that he’s done. Well, I was wrong. And I was stunned on election night. As time passed, however, I began to think about what a Donald Trump presidency would mean, how he would govern and how the time until his inauguration could ease the worries and doubts that me and many others had.

It’s undeniable that Donald Trump’s campaign was unlike any other we’ve ever seen. Nothing he did was traditional or “establishment.” Much of it consisted of getting as much publicity as possible, wherever and whenever he could. At the same time however, he did a lot of things that seemingly took us back 100 years — from racist and sexist comments to giving legitimacy to conspiracy theories, his actions worried people on both sides of the aisle. At the end of the day, this is what many people were worried about, including myself – and that’s why his first month was so important. His first month would show just how he attempted to transition from campaign mode to governing mode, and whether or not he will attempt to moderate any of his positions.

Firstly, Trump has done little to quell the fears that his campaign brought about in minority communities. Throughout his campaign, the divisive and hateful rhetoric that his campaign ignored, enabled and even participated in led many people to believe that a Trump presidency would lead to hate — both within a Trump presidency and around the country. And his first month has done little to convince us otherwise. His appointment of Steve Bannon, the leader of alt-right website Breitbart, gave us no indication that he was going to vehemently reject the nasty parts of his campaign. His appointment of General Michael Flynn, a staunch proponent of a Muslim ban, for National Security Adviser told us that he refused to back off some of the statements that gave pause to so many of our fellow citizens.

Furthermore, it seems like he has not learned to restrain his own narcissistic side — specifically on Twitter. Although in the last few weeks of the campaign it seemed that he showed remarkable self-control, his actions as president-elect have been anything but controlled. He felt the need to lash out at the cast of “Hamilton” for addressing concerns to Vice-President Elect Mike Pence. Additionally, he stoked a (undeniably false) conspiracy theory that there were a large amount of illegal immigrants who voted in states around the country in the election. All of these things, every single one, come from a need to feel validated and attack those who attack himself.

So what does this mean? It means that the American people and others in government must hold him accountable. It means that senators and congressmen need to call him out when he appoints people who fundamentally reject the values that America was founded upon. It’s clear that he won’t moderate who he is or who he surrounds himself with — so Americans and politicians, Democrats and Republicans and even people who surround him must have the courage to tell him that the things he are doing are wrong. Because even though a plurality of people voted for him, he represents all Americans — and he has to do that in every action that he takes.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • Newyorkmom

    This reads like a journaling excercise in second grade not a college newspaper. I would hope ND would have more quality articles and not indulge in a “feelings” excercise. Stick to the facts and report them.

    • João Pedro Santos

      Is there anything factually wrong in the viewpoint?

      • Newyorkmom

        What facts? It’s all feelings.

  • i_enjoy_tacos

    Thank you for writing this. Please keep up the good work.

  • conway0516

    So much for you not ranting about the “toupee wearing reality television star” as you referred to President Elect Trump in your Nov 8 letter. How does that crow taste?

    • João Pedro Santos

      How old are you really?

      • conway0516

        Old enough to be a benefactor to the university so your leftist thoughts can have a safe space to take up.

        • João Pedro Santos

          Well, then apparently age doesn’t prevent you from being a troll with childish answers.

          • conway0516

            Says the man with over 600 comments on Observer articles.

            All I did was call out the writer for his hubris on 11/8 and doing what he said he would no longer have to do…rant against Trump. Nothing wrong with calling someone out on that.

          • João Pedro Santos

            Personal attacks now? You didn’t “call someone out”. You basically had the reaction of an elementary school kid when he wins a competition at a school and, instead of being civilized, decides to mock on the defeated. But go ahead, it must be fun to laugh about stuff such as the raise on hate crimes in the last weeks. It must be fun to laugh about Muslims who were attacked by people who think like you but aren’t satisfied with spewing their hate on the Internet. It will probably also be fun when you realize that your dear leader won’t do anything that he promised because most of his promises are either unfeasible or unconstitutional (and he admitted that Obamacare was a good thing after being told about what Obamacare is).

          • conway0516

            Yes, I did call him out on reneging on his statement on 11/8. I try to get a chuckle out of someone. But as usual, someone says A, you bring up B, C, and D. Well, this discussion had nothing to do with Trump being unconstitutional but since you brought it up…

            Are you a student of the Constitution? it appears to me you are a math grad student. Which of Trump’s plans are unconstitutional? He wants to reverse some of Obama’s executive orders, which he can do. His plans are to rework Obamacare, which can be done via law through Congress and some executive orders. He has a tax plan, again, it will go through Congress. Restricting immigration is not unconstitutional. It has been done several times before. So where is he looking to sign an unconstitutional executive order?

            And if you want to talk about attacks…let’s talk about the Muslim refugee who stabbed people at OSU yesterday in the name of ISIS. I’m sure they’re all happy we have such a great vetting process in this country.

          • i_enjoy_tacos

            Example of Trump’s unconstitutional plans from just this morning: his threats to flag burners. Sorry, President-elect Trump, but flag burning is constitutionally-protected free speech. You can’t throw these people in jail or revoke their citizenship.

          • conway0516

            Flag burning is the only one I will give you. However it is a tweet. Not an executive order or suggestion of a bill. His phrasing was “should be” which is an opinion. Not law. But you are correct. That would be challenged in the courts.

            The rest, as you say, do not violate the letter of the constitution. Call me a literalist but to quote Antonin Scalia, it says what it says and it doesn’t say what it doesn’t say. The things you list are just political positions of Trump’s you may not agree with and that is totally fine. Nowhere does it say in the Constitution that borders must be open and immigrants cannot be screened. But to dismiss these positions as unconstitutional is incorrect. You are within your bounds to disagree with the positions. Hillary Clinton wanted to reverse DC v. Heller which could be construed as unconstitutional. There’s a difference there.

            Also, I believe the “racism peddler” you refer to is Bannon. He is not a cabinet member.

            Also, I never disrespected you. My comment was calling out the writer (maybe it’s you) on the hubris in the 11/8 article that stated he’d never have to write about Trump again (while describing him in an insulting way). How would it be if he referred to Obama as a nappy-headed community organizer? It probably wouldn’t be looked upon too kindly but it is a similar dis. (Toupee wearing reality tv star). Pretty rude comments and very uncalled for. That’s what I was going for. It wasn’t meant to be a discussion of whose positions are right for this country.

          • i_enjoy_tacos

            Sorry if I didn’t make myself clear (the order of my posts appears to be backwards), but I’m not trying to argue the constitutionality of any of the issues I raised. I agree they’d survive tests, with or without Scalia. Arguing the constitutionality would be missing the forest for the trees.

            Instead, I’m arguing that something can pass constitutional muster but still be extremely dangerous and damaging, and the actions and positions I’ve listed fall into that category. They are beyond policy disagreements: they’re damaging to our democracy.

            Like when Trump said, “the President can’t have a conflict of interest.” Yeah, technically that’s true. But unlike Trump, every other president has gone to great lengths to distance themselves from their business interests. He has not, and right before he said this he had discussed policy that directly affected one of his golf resorts with a British MP. This behavior is not good for a liberal/western democracy like ours where we trust our leaders look out for the best interest of the nation, not themselves or their friends.

            As for the Bigotry Peddler: yes, I was talking about Bannon. And sorry for missing the exact detail of his position, but that’s immaterial to my larger point: there’s a bigotry peddler with the President-elect’s ear. Do I really need to explain why I find this troubling?

            And as for the defense of his flag burning tweet as just a tweet: no. Sorry. That’s not an acceptable defense. He’s about to become president of the US: lying and inciting matters, even if it’s just in a tweet.

            So, since you seem like a reasonable person, my question is: do you really think the things I listed above (religious profiling; appointment of bigotry peddler; threats to prosecute a political rival; unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud; etc.) fall into the camp of simple policy disagreements in a healthy democracy?

          • conway0516

            I think you’ve presented a good case as to why you, or millions of others, did not vote for Trump. I think that is absolutely fair. However, we have a disagreement as to the role of the executive branch and the letter versus the spirit of the law. It could be argued that Hillary was also riddled with conflicts. She also had some policies people didn’t agree with and why they may have been less harsh in your eyes, to many others they were more offensive/dangerous than Trump’s rhetoric and policies.

            I speak for myself when I say he was not my ideal candidate either and you’ve laid out some cases why. But when I stack the two against each other, I skew more conservative in my politics and favor lower taxes and smaller government. Two of the things Hillary did not promise at all. Additionally when asked in the third debate about the role of the Supreme Court she did not once mention “upholding the constitution” but instead went on about legislation and equality. The Court is not a legislative body. So she really lost me there. But that’s a different point.

            So to answer your question about a threat to democracy. My answer is no. What I do see as a threat to our constitutional republic (we are not a democracy) is 8 more years of a borderline socialist agenda including higher taxes, socialized medicine, anti-growth economic policies, and Congressional workarounds. I also see the latest #notmypresident movement along with the threats to electoral college members to go rogue as a threat to our country. (Not implying you’re part of that). I think others saw the socialist agenda promoted by Obama/Clinton as a threat as well…down ballot voting showed support for republicans in a big way.

            So if our country can survive that and this transition period, I would say we are in good shape and the next administration, Congress, the Court and history will decide what else survives.

            If Trump sets up a Gestapo and violates 4th and 14th Amendment rights, then please come back to me and I will say I was wrong and apologize. But until then, he has done nothing to violate anyone’s rights under the consitituion.

          • i_enjoy_tacos

            A few points:

            – Simply not violating citizen’s constitutional rights is an extremely low bar for a president in terms of threatening the integrity of our democratic institutions. (Desperately…trying…to…avoid Godwin’s Law, and failing) He can do a lot of damage without setting up Gestapo-like infrastructure.

            – Your list of threats to our democratic institutions (size of government; tax rates; government-sponsored healthcare) appear to me like policy disagreements much more so than the things I listed (religious profiling; appointment of bigotry peddler; threats to prosecute a political rival; unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud; etc.). The lists are not the same.

            – I agree the #notmypresident protests are misplaced, but [1] they appear to be grassroots and not led by a political party, [2] given Trump’s divisive campaign I can understand where they’re coming from, and [3] it’d be great to see Trump – the future president of the protesters, too – extend an olive branch rather than claim they’re being “unfair”, whatever that means. So comparing this to Trump’s actions before and after the election is a false equivalence.

            – HRC was a flawed candidate, to be sure, but her sins were not even in the same ballpark as Trump’s. For example…

            – I still find it extremely troubling that you and other Trump supporters won’t throw Bannon under the bus or acknowledge a that a large portion of Trump’s campaign was built upon bigotry.

            All that said, thank you for engaging. As a Californian I know very few Trump supporters. Even my friends who are Republicans – including other ND grads elsewhere in the country – did not vote for him (3P candidates all the way!). I and others didn’t see this as “Obama vs. Romney”, two qualified candidates who disagreed policy. Instead, it was, “Flawed yet Thoughtful vs. Racist, Unethical, Self-abosrbed Dumpster Fire”. Basically, I’m still trying to figure out how somebody can look at what he’s said and done and say, “yeah, let’s make that guy the most powerful person on the planet”.


            And then… I just read this:
            It sounds like better strategy is to not get drawn into the circus. I’ll do my best.

          • Punta Venyage

            On conflicts of interests, thoughts on the Saudis bankrolling Clinton’s campaign?

          • João Pedro Santos


          • Punta Venyage
          • Newyorkmom

            Hillary was all for it,,, response?

          • i_enjoy_tacos

            I was about to list several more, but then I realized that focusing on explicit violations of the constitution is missing the forest for the trees.

            What scares people like me (your fellow citizen who, despite not having his preferred candidate win the election, still deserves your equal respect) who is that he’s violating the spirit of the constitution.

            Here are examples of his behavior that fall into this category:

            – plans to bar people from the country on a religious test
            – installation at a high level of his cabinet somebody who’s recent career was built upon peddling racism, sexism, and other bigotry
            – threats to the freedom of the press by “opening-up our libel laws”
            – threats to prosecute a political rival during the debate
            – complete disregard for concerns about conflict of interest between his business interests and new powers
            – 100% unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the millions. What kind of country are we if the citizens don’t trust the elections? (And, no, this is not the same as the other recounts underway.)

            … I could go on.

            All of this undermines our democratic institutions. Many do not explicitly violate the constitution. But you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think they violate the spirit of it.

            We’re a country of laws, yes. But people enforce them and people are people, and we’ve just elected somebody who’s pushing the envelop before he’s even been sworn in.