Okay, look. I know most people don’t come to this blog for my political ramblings, and truth be told that’s not what I want to be doing with my time either. So I’ll make you all a deal: what follows is an extra-long and involved Trumpwatch post, and it will be the last such post I write for a good long while.
I think it’s safe to say that Trump’s first week in office has been something of a roller-coaster. First we had the gloom of inauguration day, followed by the elation of the worldwide women’s protests, and now, several days later, a string of shocking executive orders as Trump puts most of his odious campaign promises into practice.
The realization that you’re witnessing the creation of history–that this day, the one that started like any other, is going to be remembered beyond your own lifetime–is a very strange and particular feeling. I felt it during 9/11. I felt it (painfully) on the day of Donald Trump’s election. And I felt it today, as I watched images of the Women’s Marches pour in from all over the world.
I hadn’t paid much attention to this event, overshadowed as it was by Trump’s inauguration, and didn’t expect it to amount to much beyond a (admittedly brave) token gesture. Apparently, neither did the organizers: several of the planned marches had to be converted to stationary protests when more than double the expected attendees turned up. An estimated 2.5 million people took to the streets in America and many other countries (including Ireland, where several thousand people marched in Dublin–this is impressive in a country whose citizenry has been historically politically apathetic about any issue not involving water charges), which is incidentally ten times the estimated turnout of Trump’s inauguration address.
I think it’s safe to say that we all needed this.
What comes next? Are these protests going to convince the Trump administration to rethink their policies? Are we witnessing the spontaneous birth of a united liberal protest movement?
No, probably not. But I’ll tell you this: I can guarantee you that Trump and his henchmen and his supporters are just a little bit scared right now. The walls of the White House have begun to compress with the force of all of that anger and scorn, like a submarine descending into the deep ocean, and they’re checking nervously for leaks. The fall of empires has begun with events far more humble than what we’ve witnessed today, and they all know it.
All of a sudden, four years doesn’t seem like such a long time.
Well, it happened.
After the election, there was a honeymoon period. The world didn’t change; Obama was still President; everything seemed like it was going on as normal. It was easy to fall into the trap of ignoring what was about to happen, or of believing that it would somehow be averted. But no. Donald Trump is officially the President of the United States of America.
I still can’t type that sentence without feeling as if I’ve stepped into an alternate universe.
Protests are igniting across the country, and some of them have turned violent. Reports of police brutality are coming in. If these images were coming from any other country in the world, they’d be taken as signs of deep political instability or even of imminent civil war. America appears to be in the opening stages of tearing itself apart, and I have very little optimism in Trump’s administration to respond to that scenario with fairness or decency.
How do I know that? Because his administration just told us. It’s one of the first things they did.
I intended to write one of these posts every time the emerging Trump presidency did something noteworthy, expecting that this would occur at a rate of maybe once every week at most. But since the election’s immediate aftermath, there’s been such a steady flurry of noteworthy (i.e. concerning) events that I’ve found myself rewriting this post at least eight times to cover different topics, trying to eke out a coherent theme.
Did I want to write about his response to the anti-Trump protests? His further cabinet and staff picks, which include a heavy emphasis on former military personnel? How about the galvanising effect that his victory has had on the European right? His worrying remarks about America’s nuclear arsenal, and apparent enthusiasm for a new nuclear arms race?
But eventually I did notice a pattern emerging, one that has its roots in factors other than Trump, and which has potential consequences beyond his presidency. We seem, quietly and without fanfare, to have entered a new era of public discourse in which truth is irrelevant and bald-faced lies are accepted as perfectly normal, even when uttered by those aspiring to the highest office in the country.
That might not seem like news–politicians always lie; the public has always shown a depressing willingness to be swindled–but in the last few years falsehoods and lies have become ever more prevent and significant, thanks in large part to the internet.
The de-Trumpening continues, as our upcoming orange overlord continues to backpedal on many of his more outrageous campaign promises, to the chagrin of his most obsessive fans. We may soon be looking at the cheerful prospect a full-scale anti-Trump revolt as the hardliners who he spent the last year and a half courting turn against him.
Or perhaps not. A disturbing number of Trump-adjacent people have been floating the idea of a reinstatement of the post-9/11 registry for immigrants from Muslim-majority countries (some even bringing up the WWII internment of Japanese Americans as a potential road-map), and for reasons we’ll get to in a minute, Trump himself may soon no longer be the most critical component of a right-wing apparatus that would probably be more effective without his incompetent ass leading it.
We’re now four days into the long, dispiriting march toward January, when Trump officially becomes president of the United States. They have in many ways not been what I either imagined or hoped for in the immediate hours after the election.