It has now been a month since the election of Donald Trump, and the time in between has been interesting, to say the least. In the Trump transition thus far, we have seen numerous cabinet appointments, arising conflicts of interest (some pertinent to the appointments), and more than our fair share of controversial statements on social media and elsewhere. As we had feared, the hateful, divisive tactics that fueled his campaign, persist in his methodology for all interactions as the President-Elect of our country. This is the kind of behavior we cannot normalize. Whether it is engaging in accusatory, degrading twitter wars, or personally attacking someone simply because of their opposition to either his business, or his agenda, it should be disavowed. This behavior should be disavowed, not only by congress and other members of public service, but by the people. Every voice carries weight, and millions of voices with the same message will be heard loud and clear. This will be our responsibility as active citizens in the coming years; to ensure that these processes and behaviors will not become the norm.
Now that we have reached the conclusion of the election, we must ask ourselves this very important question: Will Donald Trump change his behavior now that the burden of “winning votes” is no longer relevant? Short answer: No. Trump continues to display the same ignorance and minimal restraint in his statements. We have seen this most recently with his interactions relating to Carrier, and the steelworker’s union pushing for the labor rights of hard-working Americans. Trump tweeted that the union should have “spent more time working, less time talking”, blaming the union for their jobs being moved out of the country. This took place after he blamed Carrier for the loss of American jobs, and then blatantly lied about the number of jobs he had kept in the nation on behalf of the Carrier operation. This blame game has become a common scene for Donald Trump, as it seems, it’s never the fault of his own. We see this as well with his tweets about Hamilton after the cast of the play addressed Mike Pence, who had attended the play that night. Trump sent out messages directed to the cast of Hamilton accusing them of harassment (for speaking directly to Pence), demanded an apology, and then proceeded to personally attack specific cast members for not “memorizing their lines”. This consistent display of hateful, divisive demeanor, should be rejected. Trump must discontinue this behavior immediately, as it will only continue to be detrimental to our democratic systems and institutions, put in place to protect our basic freedoms and rights as Americans. Despite his reluctance to change his behavior, his policies have flipped on many different issues. This is including the Affordable Healthcare Act, marriage equality, waterboarding, climate change, his stance on prosecuting Hillary Clinton, and even his view on media outlets like The New York Times. His positions on all of these issues and more, have altered drastically.
His mannerisms are not the only red flag thus far, however, as his appointments are deeply concerning in many instances. This was seen immediately, with the appointment of Steve Bannon, who is a representative of an “alt-right extremist” media outlet which preaches the kind of misogyny and bigotry our leaders are supposedly tasked with rejecting. Apparently not. Donald Trump went on to appoint Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. Sessions was once rejected as a federal judge for quite literally being “too racist.” He had been accused of suggesting that a white lawyer with a black client is a “race traitor”, and that his only issue with the Ku Klux Klan was their drug use. He will, ironically, be succeeding two African-Americans at the Attorney General position. These concerning decisions continue with the appointment of Mike Flynn for national security advisor, with Russian and Turkish ties, leading to potential conflicts of interest, and that of Scott Pruitt for the Head of the Environment Protection Agency. Pruitt is outspoken about denying human impact on climate change, or even climate change altogether, which poses many obvious problems for the Environmental Protection Agency. We have seen the appointment of Ben Carson for Housing and Urban development, even after Carson himself spoke on his lack of experience and hesitance to take up the position for that reason. Carson has also been quoted in the past, criticizing federal programs which were created to combat poverty. With numerous more concerning and controversial appointments, like Rick Perry for head of the energy department, and Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, we have begun to see a pattern emerge. Trump seems to be condoning, and even trying to build on his big-business-oriented, capitalistic, anti-environment administration. His approach when selecting government officials has been very concerning. Many of his appointees have potential conflicts of interest with big business, and were selected by Trump, not in spite of these conflicts, but because of them. Unfortunately, it would appear as if Mr. Trump has been selecting candidates based solely on loyalty to the president-elect, and/or business prospect. This is what we face with the upcoming administration. It seems that this complete disregard for the roles and duties of our government departments and organizations, will not cease in the near future. And this, unfortunately, is the new normal for his administration, but we cannot normalize it.
Donald Trump has accumulated a vast amount of wealth as a businessman, controlling or having a share in over 500 different businesses. His success does pose potential issues though, as he is set to become the next president of the United States. Although Trump promised to cut his ties with his businesses, and that his sole focus would be on that of the well-being of the country, he has not done very well to carry these promises out, so far. Given that his businesses have many ties with foreign leaders and organization, he could be more vulnerable to influence or even bribery, which potentially could place our foreign policy in danger of a complete collapse. Some of these potential “favors” from foreign leaders can already be seen with the creation of Trump Tower in Moscow, which will generate millions for the Trump family. He has suggested a “blind trust”, by placing his business in the hands of his children. Despite the fact that this trust would not be blind at all, and would not get rid of potential conflicts of interest, as all profits would still go to the Trump family. These potential conflicts continue to become apparent as the Trump administration takes form. We have seen billions in combined accumulated wealth among his cabinet appointees. One of the most important, if not the most prominent role in the administration, Secretary of State, went to his campaign’s top donor, and Exxon Mobil CEO. This is another example of his possible ulterior motives and interest conflicts. Trump seems to be influenced by business prospect and/or potential beneficiaries to the Trump brand or Trump’s pocket. This, of course, is an issue that should not be taken lightly. At the least, our President should be held accountable in every aspect as it pertains to the financial conflict of interest law for other public servants. This is a threat to our democratic system like none we have encountered previously, this is uncharted territory and we must tread carefully. We must be aware of the enormity and potential destructive nature of the situation, and recognize it as a serious impending issue that demands our attention. This needs to be addressed immediately, as Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest are not just “potential problems”, but they are now imminent issues.
Donald Trump seems to continue to disappoint our people, disregard our basic foundational values and ideas as the “land of the free”, and tarnish the legacies of the diplomats who came before him, more by the day. American politics has been volatile in the years prior, but now sits in a potentially destructive position. Preserving these basic, foundational principles that our nation was founded upon, is now our responsibility. It is now our duty to disavow these destructive, disgraceful, and absolutely un-presidential behaviors.