A Year in Trump’s America
A year has passed since the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States, swearing Donald John Trump into the highest office in the land. Even before his official term began, his road to the White House was highly reported and scrutinized for numerous reasons. Now, the past 365 days in office has lead to the documentation of arguably the most controversial administration witnessed in generations. Never before has a president stirred such visceral reactions. Whether it is love or hate, everyone has an opinion.
To review the first year in Donald Trump’s America, some of the most memorable (and infamous) moments have been compiled below:
- President Trump’s Inauguration Crowd
Right out of the gate the Trump administration made quite a statement regarding the amount of spectators at the 45th Inauguration, falling flat to meet the estimated crowd of 800,000 attendants. Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer addressed the issue by saying; “Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular Tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall. That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period”.
Official photos released by the National Park Service proved otherwise. Aerial shots of President Trump’s Inauguration as well as former President Obama’s 2009 and 2013 Inaugurations give a very different perspective. Though there are no official numbers provided regarding crowds on the National Mall, estimates believe that approximately 1.8 million were present for the 2009 inauguration, one million in 2013, and only 250,000 to 600,000 present in 2017. This is very different than what President Trump saw from his standpoint saying, “We had a massive field of people. You saw that — packed…I looked out the field was, it looked like a million, a million and half people, they showed a field where there was practically nobody standing there.”
- “Alternative Facts”
One of the most memorable and even humorous moments of the Trump administration has been the announcement of the term “alternative facts” to pop culture. Advisor to the President, Kelleyanne Conway, introduced the phrase in an interview with “Meet the Press”, again discussing the size of the crowd at the Inauguration and the clearly erroneous statements made by Sean Spicer the previous day. Host Chuck Todd immediately retorted saying, “Alternative facts are not facts, they’re falsehoods”. Naturally, people made jokes and alternative facts became one of the “it” terms of the year.
- Repealing of Obama-Era Regulations
Possibly the scariest element to this administration has been the quiet undertaking to repeal policies, regulations, and protections enacted during the eight years under President Obama. While some have been highly publicized like the attempt to repeal Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act), the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, and the Federal Trade Commission’s vote against Net Neutrality, many others have quietly taken affect.
One such change has been the adjustment in how the investigations of sexual assault cases are handled across college campuses. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, has orchestrated the reverse in policy. Fearing unfair treatment of the accused under the Obama-era policy, which operated on a “preponderance of evidence” standard, schools should now utilize a “clear and convincing evidence” standard. Critics believe that the alteration will deter victims from reporting crimes.
Environmental changes have also been made, making good on President Trump’s campaign promise to overturn former President Obama’s legacy on the matter. Since coming into office, the president has withdrawn the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, a pact to adopt green energy sources, cut down on emissions, and acknowledgement to the threat of climate change. Also, the director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has repealed the Clean-Power Plan, which curbed power plant’s emissions of greenhouse gases and pushed for electric energy sources rather than coal.
- The Travel Ban
As part of his mission to increase national security and crack down on immigration, President Trump announced the Travel Ban, an executive order to protect against possible terrorism, targeting primarily Muslim-majority countries. Many may remember photos documenting the fear and grief shown throughout airports across the country as families were separated almost immediately due to the restrictions.
In one year, three versions of the ban have been declared- the first two have been blocked and expired before they could take effect. The latest travel ban has been issued, this time restricting eight countries and is far more refined than its predecessors. It is likely that the ban will hold given the fact that refugees are not directly targeted this time, coupled with clearer guidelines for the policy.
- Appointing Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court
A win for the Trump Administration has been the Appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. The conservative judge has made headlines for his less than traditional entry to the Court, unabashed when it comes to making his opinion heard or showing support for his party. Furthermore, Democrats are still upset with his swift confirmation upon President Trump entering office, a year after a vacancy. Regardless, Justice Gorsuch makes for a Republican majority in the highest court of the land with several landmark cases awaiting their consideration in the new year.
- Allegations of Russian Interference
A repeating topic throughout the year, and likely to continue, has been allegations of Russian interference during the 2016 campaign upon the Democratic National Committee revealing that Russian hackers infiltrated the party’s servers. The idea has become nothing short of a scandal complete with allegations of collusion, secret meetings, and public hearings making headlines throughout the year of presidency. Since the matter has become public knowledge several members of the administration have come under fire, including Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law. With the investigation still ongoing, new revelations are sure to come.
- Inability to Denounce White Supremacist
A major point of contention for many was the response of the President after the alt-right protest in Charlottesville, VA in August of 2017 regarding the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park. The “Unite the Right” rally made headlines for the imagery of hundreds of white supremacists protecting the statue with lit tiki torches and peaceful protestors surrounding them. The following day however, violence erupted, leaving one dead and many injured. One alt-right demonstrator even plowed through a crowd of peaceful participants.
The public looked towards the president to give a statement regarding the situation and condemn the actions of those that aligned themselves with the alt-right yet, the opposite occurred. In a press conference President Trump was quoted saying, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides…It’s been going on for a long time in our country.” The statement drew both its share of critics and supporters.
- Successfully Signing Tax Reform into Law
A second win for the Trump Administration has been signing a new tax reform into law. The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” was signed on December 22, 2017, making it one of the last major acts in the first year. There is still much to be learned about the new law and how citizens will be affected, but changes have already taken effect starting January 1st. Some of the earliest changes that will be seen from the reform are altered tax brackets, lowering tax rates.
Tax cuts have also been changed. Now, corporate taxes will experience a permanent cut while individuals will only experience temporary cuts. Insurance premiums are also expected to rise, thus reducing the number of those covered by health insurance. Experts predict that the new law will result in a rise of the federal deficit by billions.
- Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital
“Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do,” President Trump said in a press conference from the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room. The controversial declaration continued to make waves when he made the announcement to move the U.S Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that has ignited violent protests. Again, all eyes are on the President as the world watches these events unfold.
- Literally Everything He Tweets (North Korea, Trans Military Ban)
One area that both liberals and conservatives alike can agree upon is President Donald Trump’s Twitter and how much everyone wishes it would disappear. A meager 26% of 1,500 polled by The Economist found the President’s Twitter to be appropriate. Wrapping up his first year, Trump has spent about 40 hours tweeting approximately 2,600 tweets. The social media platform has been used for everything from shameless self-promotion to petty twitter beef.
Lackluster diplomacy has also found a home on Twitter with threats of nuclear war being exchanged with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, in only 240-characters or less. Twitter has also been the means of communication for policy introductions, as was the case for the Transgender Military Ban (which has not and seemingly will not take effect).