The Coin: Trump’s Presidency Has Only Left Us More Divided

Although I am not an American citizen and have only been able to call the United States home for a few months, the 2016 election impacted me in an intensely visceral manner. When Donald Trump was elected President, I wept alongside my friends, who cried for their country, for their future and for their safety. Together we mourned the premature death of progressive politics and the possibilities of freedoms for everyone: regardless of gender, sexual orientation or skin colour. Yet following the election, the rambunctious nature of Trump’s image, alongside his complete absence of political record stood as a faint glimmer of hope. That perhaps Trump catalysed social tensions as a ploy to attain votes, and would not deliver upon his radical electoral promises such as defunding Planned Parenthood or building his wall. However, following his inauguration, it cannot be denied that Trump was true to his word. In the first month of his presidency, Trump has issued numerous executive orders and nominated divisive figures for positions in his administration, dramatically affecting policies in immigration, abortion and foreign relations. Whether such actions will set America on the trajectory for greatness is extremely dubious. I firmly believe discriminatory sentiment fueling such rapid action could have cataclysmic implications for the country, jeopardising both the sustainability of a progressive United States and the international perception of America as a significant power.

Arguably, the most dramatic of Trump’s actions in office was the issuing of an executive order barring citizens from seven countries from entering the United States for 120 days. The President claims that the restrictions imposed will secure the country from potential terrorist threats, preventing the infiltration of ISIS onto American soil. However, Trump has omitted the inclusion of countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which have consistently backed the interests of Islamic State, both financially and through terrorist recruitment. It appears that Trump prioritises the continued success of his businesses, particularly in Saudi Arabia, rather than truly strengthening domestic security. Furthermore, the exclusion of the above nations serves to evidence the executive order as an attack upon the Islamic faith rather than combatting the actual threat of ISIS. This ‘Muslim Ban’ doesn’t prevent the entry of terrorists to the United States, but rather refugees fleeing the destruction of the ISIS occupation or normal law abiding citizens who happen to praise a God that goes by a different name. Even as an international student who does not have many connections in America, I was personally affected by the implementation of such a policy. A close friend of mine, of Iranian descent, recently experienced the devastation of her family as a result of the executive order. Two of her relatives temporarily left the country prior to the election to visit family back in Iran and following the introduction of the travel ban were unable to return to their homes in the states. Both were legal immigrants, employed in professional work, guilty of nothing other than following a faith that is not Christianity. Sadly, her story is not unique, and is echoed throughout the Muslim community, poignantly signifying the omnipresent discriminatory reality of America. The inefficiency of this policy stands stark, no refugee has ever committed a terrorist attack on American soil and thus the ban of such a vulnerable facet of society is cruel and callous. In my opinion it is with great irony that Trump describes such measures as “protective,” as the ban alienates minorities, creating an environment which is more likely to motivate violent acts from such marginalised groups rather than preventing them.

Remaining optimistic over the future is difficult, due to the nomination of controversial figures to Trump’s cabinet. The recent Senate confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education is prophetically grim. More of a lobbyist than an educator, DeVos has been vocal as a proponent of charter schools in the United States, which would lead to detrimental outcomes in the public school system nationwide. With lesser government oversight, such institutions would be free to pursue an ideological agenda that infringes on academic content. Indeed, DeVos herself stated that education reform can “advance God’s Kingdom” and promote and evangelical and creationist curriculum. As education is integral for the successful development of future generations, I find it extremely disturbing that a she is in charge this sanctified institution. DeVos’ appointment itself is a microcosm of the Trump presidency. Like Trump, DeVos attained her position through wealth, holds a view toxic to the general welfare of the country, and is a polarizing figure. In a country as fervently nationalistic as the United States, the extent of impassioned opposition toward the president is striking. For Trump’s disregard of democracy, political correctness and human decency has led me to count down the next four years with urgent anticipation, hoping that maybe America will have learnt its lesson.

Annabelle Van Dort ’17

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