One week in, and President Trump is already reshaping America. He is turning the United States into an ugly, dark place walled-off ideologically and physically from the rest of the world. It’s gotten to the point—just seven days into his presidency—that I’m already wondering what kind of place I suddenly find myself living in. It’s not America. It’s Trumpland.
In just one week, Trump has cast aside, sullied, and trampled on many of the rights and concepts we as Americans have long fought for and believed in:
- He has threatened the Constitution of the United States of America
Journalists are facing felony charges for covering the protest rallies during his inauguration, which threatens the First Amendment. Trump also is calling for a Muslim registry (or, euphemistically, a database that tracks Muslims in America, which would be set up by his administration), which also threatens the First Amendment, not to mention all sorts of human rights. And, he placed a gag order on the country’s National Park System, prompting employees of many of the country’s organizations, from NPS to NASA to FDA, to launch rogue social media accounts.
- He has provoked some of the United States’s largest trading partners
Trump has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, effectively ceding to China first-place trade status in the Pacific region. He has bullied Mexico about his beloved wall, threatening a 20 percent import tax, prompting President Enrique Peña Nieto to cancel a scheduled meeting with Trump.
- He has proposed to entirely defund the arts
Trump seeks to defund the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The arts show us who we are as a nation. Even during World War II, Winston Churchill is said to have argued against defunding the arts: “The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them … Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.” Trump, however, seems to believe in some sort of separation between the arts and state.
- He has ordered NHS to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants
This vague executive order does not specify “illegal immigrants,” nor does it specify what crimes. If an illegal immigrant gets pulled over for failing to signal a lane change while driving, he could be put on the list. With this order, Trump also has defunded sanctuary cities, which will add to the already overburdened budgets of some of the country’s largest cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
The list goes on: defunding Planned Parenthood, banning funding to international health organizations, halting any new regulations, essentially knocking the teeth out of the EPA and various other departments.
In just one week, Trump has—much to the delight of many of his supporters—thwarted the seventy years of progress and peace that began when FDR was president. He has launched an isolationist foreign policy and an isolationist trade policy. He has irritated our neighbors and allies. He has maligned an entire religion. He has argued for the return of torture and black sites. He has wiped the White House website of information pertaining to climate change and to LGBTQ rights. He has threatened to destabilize NATO.
All of this on top of the “alternative facts” regarding the size of his inauguration crowd and the many lies he and his staff have pushed on the American people.
This is what tyrants do. This is what fascists do. This is what dictators do. If you don’t believe me, then look to history: Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Trujillo, Hussein, Ghaddafi, Erdogan.
They, too, locked up journalists while pushing out their own propaganda. They, too, sought to criminalize certain religions. They, too, sought to otherize different races. They, too, sought to exert control over the arts. They, too, blamed other countries for their economic and social woes.
Unfortunately, Republicans like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell—who are supposed to be leaders, not sycophants—are pooh-poohing much of what Trump has said and done. So orgasmic are they over their new-found triumverate of power, now that they control the House, the Senate, and the White House, that they are all but wringing their hands in ecstasy, letting pass all of this Trump craziness so that they can pursue their conservative agenda.
There is much outrage over all of this—so much so, unfortunately, that many of us are already suffering from outrage overload. Every day, everywhere we look, there is yet another group to rally behind, yet another cause to support. Do I go to the Scientists’ March on Washington? Do I go to the Trump Taxes Rally? Do I donate to the ACLU? The Society of Professional Journalists?
So much seems to be going wrong. So many causes need our support.
It’s enough to make your head spin.
And your stomach churn.
So what does one do in Trumpland? How do we save our country from Trump and the Trumpsters?
First, we must not be stunned into paralysis. We must keep educating ourselves, we must keep fighting for what we believe in, we must keep protesting—in whatever way—all the rights violations we see happening all around us.
Second, we must move toward action. Participating in marches may or may not be your thing. Marches might not actually effect tangible change, but when we come out in massive numbers like we did during the many hundreds of Women’s Marches that took place around the world on January 21, we show Trump and the Trumpsters that we are here, we are watching, and that we will not stand for this.
But marches aren’t enough.
So what can we do?
Run for office. Support candidates who are running for office. Support groups that support candidates who are running for office. Host an interfaith coffee. Volunteer at Planned Parenthood. Join a community organization. Donate to the causes you believe in. Write, call, and email your elected representatives. Petition the White House.
Whatever happens, we must act. History shows us what happens when we are on the wrong side of an issue: Nazi Germany. Stalin’s Russia. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Think I’m exaggerating? Nazi Germany didn’t begin with death camps. It started with political infighting. It started with the stabbed-in-the-back theory that it was the fault of the Jews that Germany lost the war and its economy tanked. It started with the establishment of special courts to punish political dissenters. It started with the burning of books. It started with racial policies that criminalized an entire religion. It started with the Nuremberg Laws. It started with Goebbells’s propaganda machine.
Tyranny and fascism don’t happen all of the sudden. It’s insidious, a slow-growing cancer. It grows so slowly, just one little bit at a time, that it’s easy for the people to overlook how nasty it’s gotten—until it’s entirely out of control.
We are inching in the same direction. It might sound like hyperbole—and, believe me, I hope it is—but the signs are there for anyone who cares to read them. If we want to save our country from becoming Trumpland, we must read the signs and heed their warnings.
Trumpland is not a nice place. It is not a place that respects freedom of speech or freedom of religion. It is not a place that understands how big the world is and how we are all connected. It is not a place that welcomes the tired or the poor.
I don’t want to live in Trumpland. I won’t give in to Trump and the Trumpsters. I will do whatever I can, in any way I can, to push back against the festering tyranny that already marks the Trump Administration. Maybe this wee blog will help. I don’t know. But it’s a start. I won’t keep quiet.
Will you join me?