Trump: A Nation Divided

Illustration by Hugh Brooks

Whether republican or democrat, libertarian or green, the Presidential Inauguration typically marks a new era and the steady progression of a global superpower. With the divisive inauguration of Donald Trump, the air surrounding the American people can only be described as tense and anxious. President Trump’s first few days has sparked mass protest, anger and debate unlike any other seen within the opening fortnight of a presidency. Trump’s executive orders have increased moral confusion and chaos; they have relieved women of bodily autonomy, isolated religious minorities and immigrants and increased xenophobia and racism to unprecedented levels. However, there still remains Trump’s faithful base; supporters who refuse to see the moral wrong in his actions and wish to see further moves to continue in this ultra-conservative pattern of governance. Simply put, Trump is literally dividing the country as he strives towards implementing his policies.

Trump seems driven to undo all of the work completed by the Obama administration, as within a few days he overruled laws on abortion, shut down sites associated with environmental sustainability and signalled his intent to repeal Obamacare. In doing so, he is continuing the election cycle divide. A new presidency is supposed to unify the nation, and yet these moves seem to exhibit that Trump has no desire to compromise with the people who voted Hillary, but instead undo all of the work which they wanted to see expanded.

No greater example of this tension can be seen than that of the state of California. Prior to the inauguration, the popularity of succession was at 20%. After two weeks, it has risen to 34%. The state is petitioning for signatures allowing for a state-wide vote on the succession in 2018, a move which is almost certain to succeed. California, which has both a larger population and a stronger economy than Australia, has literally been so divided from the United States, there is a legitimate move to separate from their country. Given that under Trump they will be paying more federal taxes then they receive in federal benefits, that they have a large multi-cultural population and that they have increasing doubts over Trump’s ability to govern effectively, the reasons for separation is evident.

People from all corners of the country are standing up in opposition to Trump, particularly in the wake of his immigration ban. The Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAGs) highlighted numerous celebrities using their platform to lampoon Trump’s executive order, in a similar vein to the Golden Globes ceremony. However, despite the seeming obvious immorality and cruelty of some of the policies, Trump’s supporters have grown more ardent than ever. Agreeing with the hysterics of Sean Spicer’s first press conference as Press Secretary, there is a popular sentiment that Trump has been treated unfairly by the media, and that his policies are for the benefit of the “Real American”. In southern states such as Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, radio stations are lauding Trump’s decisiveness even as the poverty riddled cities of Mexico remain in eye’s sight just across the current fence-line.

Nevermind that these people are a minority, they are vocal and persuasive.

Refusing to focus on the racist immigration laws which they believe in but do not always vocalise; Trump’s followers focus on his “economic genius”. Nevermind that he was voted into office to ‘drain the swamp’ and has since hired the Goldman-Sachs executives he condemned, or that more of his businesses have failed than succeeded, his commercial acumen is going to revitalise the country. Admittedly, Trump’s pressure on General Motors has led to their decision to invest $1billion into a new American factory – instead of the original Mexican alternative – and the subsequent 7,000 jobs that will result. However, his spectacular idea that America should tax all Mexican imports 20% to pay for ‘The Wall’ would also lead to major price inflations that would cause the poor of America – who Donald targeted in his campaign – to be priced out of ordinary goods. It is only a matter of time before even his most loyal supporters are either disenfranchised by his manoeuvres or left loyal through their support of his racist policies alone.    

Illustration by Hugh Brook

What is escalating the divisiveness within the country, however, is the seeming lack of preparation that has characterised Trump’s administration thus far. The comparison between Barack Obama’s first agenda which consisted of over 25,000 words to Donald Trump’s 2,500-word equivalent was an initial sign that there may be disorganisation in the administration. Since then, not one of Trump’s executive orders has received legal counsel, let alone legal review, resulting in the federal courts having to question or attempt to overturn his policies. Similarly, Kelly-Anne Conway has drawn comparisons to George Orwell’s infamous 1984 dictatorship for her presentation of ‘alternative facts’, as has Sean Spicer with his consistent demand that Donald Trump had roughly one million more people attend his inauguration than independent bodies have estimated. The comparisons with 1984 do not end there, however, with Trump’s administration censoring the National Parks Department’s twitter feed in order to delete their pro-environment posts. The administration has tried to subtly influence what their government bodies publish and yet has done so poorly that it is public knowledge. This near-comedic circle of idiocy has confirmed the majority of the population’s opinions that this man is unfit to govern the country, and yet he is their president for the next four years. That is another 200 weeks of protests, racially targeted laws and outdated ultra-conservatism.

What I can safely say after six weeks within this melting pot of anger, fear and confusion is that America is a nation on the verge of mass violence, unlawfulness and human rights breaches. By no means is Australia perfect – our refugee solution is barbaric, and our marriage equality stance archaic – but thank God I won’t have to live in America the next four years.

Nick Jarrett

The author Nick Jarrett

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