Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Strong Nation With or Without a Strong Leader

By BHUMIKA CHOUDHARY  ’18 

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

A catastrophic atmosphere lingered on Nov. 9 as Donald Trump was declared the President-elect for 2016. Stock markets plummeted, anti-Trump protests raged from Los Angeles to New York, and the Canadian immigration website crashed; it was almost as if there had been a national tragedy. Simultaneously at Trinity College, minority students left class weeping, professors struggled to teach, and the entire community grieved together at the Underground Coffehouse. The outcome of the presidential election has evoked immense fear and uncertainty within the people of this country.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence, was forgotten in the process of exposing Trump as a racist, sexist, and incompetent presidential candidate. According to Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, “[Trump] needs an experienced person to do the part of the job he doesn’t want to do. He sees himself more as the Chairman of the Board, than even the CEO, let alone the COO,” suggesting Pence is the real terror. Pence is one of the most anti-LGBTQ political crusaders and he could make the progress on LGBTQ rights obsolete. Pence signed the draconian anti-LGBTQ Religious Liberty Law in Indiana last year, supported conversion therapy as a member of Congress, and as a columnist and radio host called homosexuality “a choice.” Trump also promised religious extremists he would sign the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), allowing discrimination against LGBT Qpeople by government employees and others along with nominating justices on the Supreme Court that would overturn marriage equality. The LGBTQ community may suffer drastically from the outcome of the presidential election.

Trump’s nomination and possible appointment of Supreme Court Justices, such as Senator Mike Lee and Judge Thomas Hardiman, indicates the prevalence of conservativism for the coming four years. Trump has threatened to overturn the 1973 court decision on Roe v. Wade, and with his appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice, this may be a reality. This case affirmed a woman’s right to have an abortion under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. During the final presidential debate, Trump said, “I feel that the justices that I am going to appoint — and I’ve named 20 of them — the justices that I’m going to appoint will be pro-life. They will have a conservative ‘bent’, confirming Trump opposition to Roe v. Wade. Women’s rights will be compromised by Trump’s presidency. Therefore, it is unsettling to learn that educated women voted for him. Trump’s win also hints at the deep-rooted sexism prevailing in the United States, states that are often democratic, such as Pennsylvania, went red; this implies that the American people refuse to have a woman occupying an important leadership role.

President Obama established the United States as the global leader in climate policy during his presidency, but Trump will undo these efforts. Trump believes climate change to be a “hoax,”dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency could be one of his priorities. Trump may immediately cancel last year’s Paris Agreement that commits more than 190 countries to reduce their emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution. Trump’s actions could move the country towards an irreversible future of extreme and dangerous climate warming. The absence of checks and balances endangers LGBQT rights, woman rights, and efforts to combat climate change.

Hope may seem hard to find, but it exists with Trump’s press statement released after meeting President Obama earlier this week. Trump’s statement suggested that he used extreme radicalism solely for campaigning purposes. Despite repeatedly vowing to “repeal and replace” Obamacare on the campaign trail, on Nov. 11, Trump signaled that he was open to keeping parts of Obamacare intact. The change in stance probably means Trump may not follow through with everything he has mentioned during his campaign previously, further increasing political uncertainty. Trump declared his priorities to be the economy, health care, and immigration.

Nonetheless, the outcome of the presidential election is negative, considering when the last time the Senate and House were Republican, we faced the Great Depression and Iraq War. Trump’s victory establishes a worrying precedent that presidential candidates are permitted to  have zero experience in public service and openly make racist and sexist remarks and still win. All he needed to win was to be a wealthy man, which makes me wonder if the outcome would have been different if Bernie Sanders had been the Democratic nominee.

Since Wednesday, signs of “Love Trumps Hate” have overwhelmed streets, post-it notes color the walls of 14th St. Subway in New York City, and messages of love are written across Trinity College. Irrespective of gender, color, and sexuality, individuals are pouring onto the streets together to express their displeasure. Sometimes a nation needs to be awakened, and the presidential outcome has done just that. Conservatism may consume the White House, but the country will stand together for equality and liberty.

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