The Beginning of “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”
February 5, 2017
President Donald Trump’s tumultuous first week in office marked a new beginning for American politics amidst protests, “alternative facts”, and 7 new executive orders. He was officially inaugurated on January 20th 2017; a day which he proclaimed to be the “National Day of Patriotic Devotion”. President Trump, who lost the popular vote by almost 2.9 million votes, started his presidency with an approval rating of 36% according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. He is the first man to hold office without any prior political or military experience.
Upon entering office, his first executive order was to repeal Obamacare as he signed an order which directs agencies to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay” Obamacare fees and regulations. He also signed a memo restricting international funding to health organizations that perform abortions.
Global protests erupted on President Trump’s second day in office as several hundred thousand protesters marched in solidarity for women’s rights worldwide. Unofficial tallies of the ‘Women’s March’ attendance are approximately 2.5 million protesters. It was the biggest inaugural protest in history with more people in attendance than the inauguration itself.
The size of President Trump’s inauguration crowd also became the topic of a heated controversy with the president himself arguing that “It looked honestly like a million and a half people, whatever it was, it was, but it went all the way back to the Washington Monument and I turn on, by mistake, I get this network, and it showed an empty field. Said we drew 250,000 people. Now, that’s not bad. But it’s a lie”. President Trump was so irked by the issue of his inauguration crowd that he sent his new press secretary, Sean Spicer, to deliver a statement regarding it. Spicer blasted the media for “deliberately false reporting” and proceeded to blatantly lie that it had been the “largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period”. He later claimed that “our intention is never to lie to you.”
The issue of factual information being misstated by the White House administration took another turn when Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, coined a new term as she told NBC’s reporter Chuck Todd, “Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that.” The so called “alternative facts” were criticized heavily for being euphemism for lies as the media heavily slandered Conway.
President Trump sparked unrest again as he signed a memo reopening the Dakota and Keystone XL pipelines. The project had been halted by the US Army Corps of Engineers last year after numerous protests that argued the pipeline would damage the sacred burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The pipeline also threatens to contaminate drinking water if it bursts.
President Trump, keen on fulfilling his campaign promises, signed another executive order calling for the “immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border”. Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico attacked President Trump’s wall promising that Mexico will never pay for it. President Trump however, still expects Mexico to fund his wall despite being denied numerous times. Tensions rose after Mexico’s current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, cancelled a previously planned visit to the White House raising speculation regarding worsening diplomatic relations between the two countries.
One of President Trump’s most controversial and perhaps unconstitutional executive orders was the “extreme vetting” of refugees and people from Muslim countries trying to enter the US. He suspended the US refugee admissions program for 120 days and blocked visa holders as well as immigrants from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Sudan from entering the US for 90 days. Asghar Farhadi, an Oscar nominated Iranian director will miss this year’s ceremony due to the ban. The ban led to multiple people being detained at airports as they faced the threat of deportation despite being green card or visa holders. A spontaneous nationwide protest erupted as protesters chanted “let them in”, “no hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” at several airports including JFK, Dulles, O’Hare, and LAX airport. Lawyers also rushed to airports as they worked pro bono to release detainees. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed an immediate lawsuit against the executive order which many call a “Muslim ban”. Federal judge Ann Donnelly blocked President Trump’s order halting deportation as he suffered his first loss against ACLU.
President Trump’s first week in office challenged American values and left many wondering if they have a place in President Trump’s America. The prospect of a united country looks bleak as Americans are divided more than ever.