Commands from the King’s Throne, Trump’s first days in office
So as you all likely know, I’ve not been a big Trump fan. Even though I have been firmly against Progressives pretty much my entire life, I was a staunch supporter of Bernie Sanders in the last election seeing him as one of the fewer genuine candidates who attempted to run. To me, a genuine candidate does not have to be one I agree with all the time, one whose narratives I necessarily support, but rather just one whose point of view is in the right place for their political post.
As someone with a classical liberal point of view who has modern interpretations for what that means in terms of our current state of government, I simply have nobody representing me in the political arena. However I feel it is important to document my points of view from time to time to provide a little clarity for myself. Despite my general disdain for the subject right now, I’m going to try to look at the prospects of Trump’s presidency, after only about a week of it going on.
With that I apologize in advance, there is a bit of a wall of text incoming.
Finding Nuance in a Mire of Alternative Facts and Political Narratives
Nuance is one of the cornerstones of my political points of view, because with nuance we look into the finer details of a situation to divulge a wide variety of perspectives. I feel that is important now more than ever to understand just what is thoroughly wrong with the culture and society that would give us the current political climate.
Perhaps one of the biggest problems in the United States is education about government. The United States government since its foundation was founded on the concept of division of powers and the limitation of total government control, but actual propogation of this type of thinking about government essentially ended with the Enlightenment era. In the 1900’s to the 2000’s we find society has progressively rolled back into thinking about government as a top down mechanism with central control happening from the highest levels. Everyone has a reason – some people think they’re doing society justice by thinking government has this right to limit this behavior or another, others think they know better as far as economics, health care, the military. I think everyone with political convictions feels like if people simply did as they said, that the world would be a better place.
However there was a reason the founders of our government created a document built around this idea of limited powers, seperated authorities with checks and balances, and explicit restrictions on what government can do. It is because, at its core, the type of thinking that leads to top down centralized government is the exact same thing every tyrannical dictator, king or regime has used to oppress its people since the dawn of organized society.
What does this rant have to do with Trump though?
Ruling By Edict
When we think of the old monarchies and lordships we think of old men, sitting on thrones and passing down decrees from on high and soldiers scurrying around to force the masses into compliance. Every President of my lifetime, in fact nearly every President since FDR has pushed the United States federal government towards a system like this by expanding the number of executive departments and offices thus increasing the importance of issuing executive orders in managing the country – essentially rule by edict.
Executive orders are basically how the President is supposed to manage all the offices he oversees and have been a thing since the creation of the country. However, it wasn’t until Teddy Roosevelt we started to see them used to any excess to push political agendas – most political agendas in the country have to be pushed through the Congress as laws. While I could say that the House and Senate system lack a lot as a check and balance system, at least it involves multiple groups of people with many different hands making sure nothing that goes in is ever quite one person’s narrow vision. Peer review/validation is the basic essence of any kind of check and balance system.
With more than a century of expanding government with so much legislation creating so many offices, bureaus, departments, councils and whatnot to oversee the country it seems absolutely absurd that massive changes to these policies should be overseen by one central authority. Just a really dumb idea. Yet liberals and conversatives alike – for different reasons of course – have pushed us hard in that direction and at this rate will continue to do so for the next 100 years. On top of that, Reagan and Clinton roll around in my lifetime and demand the power of line item veto be added. After some fighting with pesky lawmakers and judges now when Congress does collectively pass a bill into law, the veto authority the President has can be selectively applied essentially creating a new method to create edict-based decisions about new laws. This to me, the central ruling edict based figure, has been one of the biggest follies of our political process.
Why, all it takes in a system like this is some complete idiot to sit in the “throne” of this modern era Presidency and start passing down poorly thought out, incomprehensible edicts from on high to screw over basically everyone in the country…
Looking at the first edicts of the Trump State
The first week of Trump’s Presidency saw him fueding with the media over how big his inaguration crowd was, blatantly putting the press on notice if they publish things contrary with his vision they will not have his favor. Then rather than look into the legislative process at all, a series of poorly thought out executive orders to begin enacting all his campaign promises. I will take a closer look at each one to just give my sort of perspective on it all.
The media life and campaign of Donald Trump makes it very clear that he is more concerned about his public image especially of that being viewed as a dominant victor in basically everything and I’m not going to go into that. It is telling then that his first actual action as President aside from appointing people into offices was to make an Executive Order challenging the Affordable Care Act of outgoing President Obama. A campaign promise and a fairly obvious “don’t let the door kick you on the ass on the way out” gesture.
Executive Order 13765: The Economic Burdens of Unnecessary Bloviation
Trump in my eyes is essentially the simpleminded man’s idea of what a ruler should be, which we see immediately in his first executive orders which appear to try to well wish away legislative laws by just commanding them to begone. It’d be regarded as proper in most situation to enact new legislature to properly repeal the Affordable Care Act and essentially replaces it, but who has time for that? Hence the “Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal” executive order, his first action essentially as President.
His priority was to push out these executive orders so let’s look closer at this first order in detail to see what it actually says.
In Section 1, Trump declares his office will repeal the Obamacare act and that until such time, he will deliberately interfere with how the act is implemented/enforced by “taking all actions consistent with the law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulartory burdens” of the act.
In Section 2, he flatly says any officer “in their discretion” are to waive provisions or defer them that are granted to them by the Affordable Care Act, especially those that pertain to any fees, taxes or penaltys for non compliance. This essentialy means “we can enforce the law as it is unless we don’t want to”.
Section 3 clarifies that executive departments are to “provide greater flexibility” to the States in implementing health care programs, which again amounts to not much, as this is just very vague.
Section 4 says heads of departments and agencies in the government that operate in healthcare should promote the idea of “the development of a free and open market in interstate commerce for the offering of healthcare services and health insurance, with the goal of achieving and preserving maximum options for patients and consumers”. The intent of this is as you’d imagine, essentially just asking people in health care offices to promote non-Obamacare as an agenda, without specifically saying what is being promoted.
Section 5 and 6 are fairly standard reminders that the executive order requires compliance to the Administrative Procedure Act (which regulates and adjudicates rule disputes set by government offices).
So here we see the basic model of the executive order edict-based rule that Trump is seeming to utilize as his “go to” to enact his policies. First you have a statement that there is an intent to change the law (meaningless, we already knew that) then there is a statement that any government official in the offices controlling Obamacare provisions should at arbitrary discretion provide “flexibility” to those effected (again meaningless due to the fact this is arbitrary and any dispute regarding this would go through the APA which would adjudicate it down to “do what the law says until the law changes” and then any real dispute that goes any further will get into the judicial system and be overturned due to the general vagueness of it all). This essentially is more for the President to exert his control over individual officials in government departments than anything else. Lastly, there is sort of a “statement of correct thinking” in that he insists people promote this vague idea that the system is to be changed soon. This is totally non enforceable and most middle to lower tier government officials who know how to stay out of trouble will choose their words carefully before getting into a media circus over any comments.
Critics of Trump should look at this order and generally feel okay with how ineffectual it is (anything conflicting with existing law should be easy to challenge in court) the vague tone is more to meant keep people in line. The fact that it has a “right think” provision inside the order itself to remind everyone involved that there is a central agenda to promote, is troublesome. Our time should not be invested in “correcting” the thought of others in this fashion, especially not by our President. Of course if we wanted a government like that we should’ve been spent the last 100+ years rethinking what the President’s role is, and what the parties do.
I am not a necessary proponent of Obamacare, but as a working American who got his health care insurance for the first time in his life during Obamacare (however not through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, rather through my own employer), I have felt like while the program has discernible flaws as does the system as a whole that there is some merit in making insurance more accessable to the average person via this means and the idea should be explored in greater detail. There is no clear plan by Trump to replace it with anything specific that I can tell, so it’s hard to criticize any plan he has at this time.
Let’s continue to look at other orders and see if they follow a similar pattern of pushing agendas while being vague with the details, shall we?
Executive Order 13768: Of Communist Propaganda and High Priority Pipelines
The next executive order (13766 “Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects”) basically starts with a tirade about how agency regulations stymie private project development and business growth. This would not entirely be an asinine point were it not for a very specific agenda – denial of climate change and any need of environmental-related policy making. To that end this decree focuses on “high priority” projects for the country (like oil pipelines) and getting them moving along without all these pesky regulations. I admit, I’m skeptical about environmentalist claims and somewhat tentatively agree with the idea that we may be a bit restrictive with regulation but even I believe that good science shows us it is for our general safety and the good health of our society and environment that we have standards and regulations. It makes business more honest and less sloppy, and environmental pollution is absolutely a private property right issue – polluting someone elses environment, or polluting the public environment, is a horrible abuse of the rights of every citizen. It’s only a hardened denier of basic environmental science that would really push the agenda stated here in section 1.
If the goal is to push forward “high priority” projects, what does “high priority” even mean? How is that determined? Section 2 clarifies, it basically means “whatever the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality says”. What impact is has on the environment to get this special status is also entirely in the chairman’s hands. Who is that chairman anyways? Let’s check that out at the agency website… which is down right now. Actually office is presently vacant and the Trump office has decided to start pulling down the online materials of our government environmental offices to put things more in line with his administrative viewpoints. Trump is a baldfaced climate change denier who believes the EPA should strictly be cut altogether and that environmental regulation is a Chinese myth created to make U.S. less competitive. This is confusing in and of itself – is he saying he wants us to be more like China’s highly ineffectual Ministry of Environmental Protection where people are just okay with basically ignoring most environmental mandates and the major cities have huge instances of smog, pollution and where usable farmland is at a premium?
After another section on deadlines essentially stating that again these “high priority” projects need “high priority” given to their deadlines (redundant) the executive order ends with the typical disclaimers. Again a good healthy chunk of this executive order was spent to prioritizing an agenda (“correct think” again) and providing very little clarification on what people should do besides “Whatever the Chairman of the CEQ says” which, for right now, is nobody.
But it could be Kathleen Hartnett-White, which some online chatter seems to indicate is a potential go-to for this job. Former head of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, her ideas are backwards to say the least. A “Clean Coal” advocate who seems to have an opinion that renewable energy is “unreliable” and “uncontrollable” who is unbelievably optimistic about the state of the U.S. (particularly Texas) oil market and the “shale revolution” – frackalicious. It’s one thing to believe that man has an appreciable global impact on the atmosphere’s development (somewhat understandable from a skeptic’s point of view and a debate worthy topic) another thing entirely to suggest that CO2 should be declassified as a pollutant altogether as Harnett-White does. It’s not sure who Trump picks for this spot, but the story of other apparent choices is similar to Kathleen – climate change deniers who work into smaller scale commissions advocating bizarre ideas about how environmental regulation is purely the work of global communist agendas and strong supporters of traditionally extremely dirty businesses like oil and coal.
Of course the first intention of this order was to push the highly controversial Keystone XL project, to link us up with TransCanada’s oil pipeline.
Nuance isn’t merely playing Devil’s advocate, but to me at least it is the opportunity to apply judgment from “all angles”. In this case I think we need to step back from differing opinions about environmental policy to see how the actual situation affects the real circumstances at play. I’ll use the previously mentioned Keystone XL pipeline as an example case. While it is true to an extent that projects like this get bogged down in regulation and red tape, it seems hasty to assume the only answer to cleaning through red tape is to slice through it (and anything in the way) with a hatchet. We should ask ourselves what is the red tape is for and what it does for us. For Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois to all want an opportunity to evaluate if a pipe with oil from Canada will be built safely through their boundaries and address matters of property by those who it effects is absolutely fair. It is essential for the success of the project, as well. If we permitted a project like that to be built unsafely or unwisely, it could be a massive waste of both time and money for all involved.
It’s true that from a business prospective, this scrutiny can sometimes kill big projects like this – I might even go a step further and state that some big projects that entail some risk are necessary for thriving national economy (“sometimes” being the operative term there). I don’t personally know as well if I’m collectively for or against the Keyston XL pipeline at this moment. However there is no good reason to think this internalized criticism of the process of regulation getting “in the way” means we should just “high priority” flag projects like this for the fast track and that attitude could prove to be disastrous. Every state involved should have some oversight into this project which at many spots poses an extreme hazard in the case of a sudden oil spill. What recourse or responsibility would the pipeline developers have to the local people and government should something go wrong with development of this project? I don’t always agree with those who wholesale thing big projects like this should exist – they have a right to be heard and considered – but to hit it with the other extreme of wholesale clearance by a single central authority (I’m sure nobody Trump would never put someone corrupt in such a post!) is absolutely bonkers.
Projects that affect the environment can only be considered to big to fail, after all, if that particular environment can afford to be a failure. I don’t think long stretches of land owned by the people of Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois are inconsequential and the concerns of which should be expedited through for little reason. Perhaps extra attention paid to address the concerns, perhaps, but that isn’t what Trump proposes. After all Trump is not putting a massive advisory board who possibly help each state hear out all the problems and concerns of the Keystone XL pipeline or anything like it (like the Dakota Access pipeline) in a faster way which to me is a legitimate means to “expedite” the regulation (extra hands on deck to help manage the massive influx of concerns would always help in a situation like this).
Nope, instead he’s putting this in the lap of a single executive who simply will dictate the solution based on their personal judgment with little organizational support. The exact opposite of what is needed to fairly hear the concerns of those involved in projects like this or others that the order will ultimately impact.
Executive Order 13767: Walls and who should or should not pay for them
Like previous orders, the “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” order begins with a bit of a tirade regarding the threat that aliens pose to our society. After all, they could be terrorists or worse yet, they could speak spanish. I will note that this order does not address the entire US border, simply the Mexico border.
Section 2 explicitly states the purpose of this order, first of course to build a wall. Can’t really happen without legislation confirming the outline of the project, establishing contractors and a budget. Trump’s campaign promise was to get Mexico to pay for this wall, so far the Mexican president is not really playing ball which is absolutely no surprise. Like other orders, this talks about the importance to “expedite” arbitrary things like “determining individuals claims of eligibility”. This basically is in a way, forgiveness for the government officials to misbehave in failing to investigate the claims properly as the order entails no actual assistance with actually expediting anything. The other provisions in section 2 are a bit redundant as they essentially state the same thing we all already know, that laws regarding deportation are to be used as the law says. Duh.
It’s noteworthy that Section 3 is entirely definitions as I feel like Trump hammered out the rest of the sections and defined nothing so one of his advisors slammed this section in to fix his afterthoughts (in legislative paperwork of any kind, including government executive orders, specific terms are generally always very well defined in the document itself with redundant definitions for clarity, sometimes this matters a lot in law – I digress).
Section 4 dumps basically the entire project in the hands of the Secretary of Homeland Security (plans to design the wall, find out how budgeting is going to work, long term funding matters and puts on a hard deadline of 180 days that surveys the status of the entire Mexican border). That is… retired Marine General John Kelly. That guy is going to be busy. Again an example of Trump moving his campaign goals onto single figureheads to manage them but at least in this instance, the Department of Homeland Security has an existing staff to work with that will probably be staying (mostly) although Trump’s transition teams are certainly dumping big chunks of these organizations at a time.
Section 5 & 6 establishes the notion that the Secretary is also responsible for creating some detention facilities for those who manage to jump the border, utilizing asylum officers and immigration judges to determine how terroristy each violator is, and what to do with them. I’m sure no human rights violations will happen in this process whatsoever. He also makes sure to note there will be no “catch and release” cases where an immigrate is caught but released within the border for procedural reasons – Trump plans to have a place where every illegal immigrant caught has a stay until they’re booted back to their home country. I mean Trump plans to make Mr. Kelly do all that. Section 8 lets Mr. Kelly delegate hiring more border patrol agents to hire 5,000 more patrollers to the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Section 9 calls for a deadline of 30 days where a survey of all financial aid to Mexico happens over the past 5 years, basically insinuating that all of that money in the future will go to the wall project, which is not near enough to build even a small portion of the wall but I’m sure Mr. Kelly will get that straightened out.
I’m going to admittedly gloss over a little bit of the rest in the interest of not making you, the reader, absolutely mental (which you must be already if you’re this far down) but Section 10 nags local government to get on enforcing stricter immigration rules (essentially a jab at the “sanctuary cities” notion of some local governments being safe havens for illegals, which Trump intends to follow up with threats to cut government funding), section 11 essentially demands that illegals that can be removed should not be paroled because of “illegal exploiting” of the parole/deportation system, which essentially is a problem if the deportation system fails as well as provides more provisions for the Secretary to run his asylums and gives him privilege in interpreting how the Immigration and Nationality Act applies. I get the gist from these passages that the Secretary and his soon to be hired asylum officers/immigration judges will be making many arbitrary judgements on whether or not a hearing for release from detention will be expedited or thrown out and I’m sure no corruption will happen in any part of that process as I’m still sure no human rights violations will happen either.
The only proviso from the rest of the order I feel is worth pointing out is a call for government transparency and reporting for section 14 and 15. This is the first such call we see from Trump, and even if you dislike the rest of this order it actually is a good thing but I fear that the statistical data on apprehended aliens will be misused to promote the idea of immigration fear mongering to keep the project on track. I’m not sure I credit Trump with being clever enough to plan for that, or if it is just a consequence of his inability to exercise proper good will in calling for transparency.
I wish he had at least input a section calling for a bit of transparency on the budget required to pay for all this crap.
Nuance is a finnicky thing because the more you apply it, the more you sound like everyone should disagree with you, or you should disagree with them but that is nary the case. Most Americans seem to look with a blind eye over the issues of immigration and will be of polar opposites – either excusing the foibles of illegal immigrants to a degree where they claim there are literally no problems at all whereas others in the opposite direction are fear mongering xenophobes who want “them people” out of here.
Listen, I understand that a society with a lot of exterior immigration can get stressed out with the pressure of a completely different culture floating in and out of their borders. Some of that is criminal like the order claims such as human trafficking and drug trade matters. However a lot of what happens from then on out, and how it affects our communities in our country, is entirely domestic. It’s easy to just say “these immigrants are the reason we have crime problems” and be done with it, but not entirely fair. We have crime problems as a country because a lot of our own citizens are criminals, enabling the trade of drugs (the legality of which is an entirely different discussion) and creating criminal gangs. Sure some gang violence is actual illegal immigrants, but many people involved in these crime circles have completely valid paperwork to be here, and would likely still have it in a revised system.
At the end of the day, nearly all Americans believe the immigration system is to “keep the good ones in and the bad ones out”. So much of Trump’s own order gives people the option to make special exemptions when necessary. However I think we ask a bit much of any immigration system to demand it qualify every immigrant against value to society. Fact is, we don’t know what we want from our immigration system. As for what I want from immigration, I simply want to know who people are (basic national identity information) with other pertinent details like criminal background. Frankly I don’t buy the idea that letting non-citizens travel freely through the country is inviting unfettered terrorism and crime. I believe a lot of our violent crime is homegrown and needs to be fixed within our communities before we worry about the amount of it that is generated by non-citizens. Also I believe if a non-citizen is found violating our laws we should have a simple process to try them according to our laws which they do accept by being here one way or another.
I don’t really believe interviews, competency tests, quizzes or background screenings into immigrants really tell you very much about whether you want any specific person in or out of your country. Those who really believe the problem is within the vetting process honestly are overlooking a more simple solution that they logically must consider as more effective – build the wall as Trump demands but don’t let anybody cross it, in or out, at all. Of course even the most xenophobic have a strong belief in cultural double standards and would reject this idea, embracing this broken paradigm of accepting the desirable vs undesirable. So we exist in this odd inbetween of visas and vetting and constantly throw the demand to do it “right” onto different shoulders.
So that mess is on Mr. Kelly’s shoulders now, so anytime it goes wrong, talk to him. I frankly feel sorry for the guy.
Executive Order 13768: Cracking down on the Sanctuary Cities
The Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States order starts simply directly addressing local cities/towns that fail to report to federal standards on immigrants. Particularly for those who overstay visas or who are caught committing crimes. Trump wants them booted out or at least sent to the nearest available Department of Homeland Security Asylum Detention Camp where the Immigration Judge Commander can determine their legal status.
I was curious what the ruckus is with “Sanctuary Cities”, so I took a look into it. Basically some cities have banned their local law enforcement from investigating immigration matters during routine police work, so it makes sense that in those jurisdictions an illegal immigrant is not going to be readily enforcable.
I’m going to honestly skip a lot of this as it mostly amounts to bloviating about how the local authorities “just should” enforce the immigration laws for Trump. I’ll throw in a couple notes though – in section 9 there is a call for a report on the weekly basis to essentially name and shame jurisdictions with documentation on their crime from aliens (which will never be directly compared to jurisdiction crime overall I’m sure) and ultimately the consequence that seems apparent for being a trouble area is to have Trump threaten to suspend funding to your jurisdiction because “f’ you for not locking up more aliens and shipping them off to the future Asylum Concentration Facilities” I’m sure the reasoning might go. There are also extra provisions on reporting and transparency so the public knows exactly how well we are combating this menace.
The rest of the order has little interest to me in that it really is by this point, a State legislative issue. If states permit these laws, it is their perojative. Of course we have weakened state rights throughout the years so if we wanted States to resist the Federal government’s demand to do its deportation for them, it is possible Trump through orders or the federal legislature will force their hands to comply. However at the end of the day, it may literally take a Constitutional amendment to actually force them to do anything more than pretend like they’re helping the Department of Homeland Security and its new immigrant detention agents.
States having the rights to make their own laws on how they practice local law enforcement has a huge impact on limiting the control the federal government has on the people. Liberals and conservatives both find many reasons to think the states should just do the things they want and have entirely eroded the State’s rights in terms of setting their own guidelines for how their own populations should live. It’s just another reason why I believe we have let our instinct to centralize government get out of hand, and it will be interesting to see what if anything Trump can actually do to force this matter more than deliver an edict like this order.
If you were in a state with Sanctuary city policies, and believe the local government should invest resources into policing immigrants, couldn’t you y’know elect a governor to do that? No, because the notion of delegated officials being in charge with specific tasks instead of all of us being centrally ruled by a dictator-esque figurehead is out of the question. If you are against the federal government’s push to demand local government compliance, you should probably ask yourself why it was okay to let the federal government get so out of hand in the first place.
It wasn’t okay, is my two cents.
Executive Order TBD: Keeping Out The Muslims
So new I don’t believe it’s numbered, the “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” has been the order that probably raised the most eyebrows. In Trump’s own words he wants to make sure the people coming into the country are “who will support our country and love deeply our people” and not the same terrorist threats we fight overseas.
So the pretense of the travel ban is simple, at least in the eyes of Trump. He wants to totally revise the visa issuance process to better detect the terroristicness of the applicants. Until that time, he wants nobody coming from a shady muslim country in. Not people who are actually coming direct from those countries, rather those with citizenship in those countries. So if you are an Olympian who was born in Somolia so is technically a Somolian citizen but also is a full British citizen (knighted by the queen) who currently lives on the west coast in the U.S. and even own a house with family there and just so happens to be traveling abroad well it sucks to be you. Sucks to be Mo Farah I guess.
So the order continues by listing countries of “Particular Concern”. This ban is temporary so he can have the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence to pow-wow and make a report on information they feel is necessary to adjudicate whether or not a certain immigrant traveling on a visa is essentially terroristiful enough to warrant having that visa revoked. Then he’s giving the foreign countries 60 days notice to make sure their visa applicants can provide that information, and if not by the time periods elapsing he’s giving power to the Secretary of State to revoke existing visas and shut down new visas for anyone who does not comply to that extra vital info.
Of course the Department of Homeland Security and FBI have to chip in after this to crease a system to process the adjudications and extra vetting to give the visas out, including the screening process and procedures, to make sure everyone sufficiently loves the country they’re coming into and not planning to blow up any towers or hijack any planes.
This process also is going to be applied to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program after a 120 day suspension for those refugees coming to the country, although some extra scrutiny will be made there. I’m not sure Trump plans to get any actual laws passed so who knows if he’ll actually revoke the USRAP altogether, which would be the thing necessary to actually do what he essentially said in his campaign of stopping the refugee influx. Trump explicitely tells the USRAP that no more than 50,000 refugees will be tolerated and Syria refugees specifically should not be let in. I’m not sure how much water that holds altogether.
On one hand, we are definitely not one of the nations greatly affected by Syrian refugee influx like other countries in Europe have been (across the globe there have been genuine problems with the refugees, but not really here) and while we of course have had some bad foreign terrorism in our history (I was awake on 9/11 watching the live broadcasts as many of you were watching and I didn’t forget) we are not exactly a hot spot of foreign terrorism. None of the countries on the travel ban have had citizens who have actively committed terrorists attacks on our soil to my knowledge. So far Trump has insinuated this list of countries wasn’t from him personally but rather from the Obama administration’s list of countries with instability due to the ISIL terrorist forces, just to me leaves more reason to think it was poorly thought out.
It’s important that even those who prefer immigration and cultural assimilation admit that the threat of islamic extremists is not purely fear mongering, there are some very real concerns modern societies should have about what is going on in the Middle East with Islam-inspired fanaticalism. That said, the unspoken truth of the matter is that people who support this hard line against the Islamic countries are not doing so out of practical concern over terrorism. Rather, they are doing so out of open faced discrimination towards cultures that they do not approve of. They see poor, challenged countries and think “well nothing good coming from there” and that’s all the reasoning they need.
Really at question here, more than Trump and his policies are the people who support Trump so ardently and refuse to look at any of these matters critically. Nobody who points out the problems with the failures to plan ahead and expressing any concern over who is actually targeted by these new policies. Trump supporters eager to defend this particular policy appear to me to be out of touch with the world outside their own comfort zone if not outright racists. Were they not, there would be a higher level of discussion than what we see here so far, would there not? For instance, if out of genuine fear of terrorism why would we not put Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates in the same categorization as the others on the travel ban? They are after all countries whose citizens were involved in the 9/11 conspiracy and other terror plots, unlike the 7 other countries that are essentially just internally troubled and have not yet directly brought violence to our shores. You’d think a country whose citizens did come over on visas improperly vetted would be the first to be a part of any travel ban.
At the end of the day, the dangerous problem of Trump is he’s very polarizing so people tend to want to support a narrative entirely supporting him or entirely against him but a rational person really wouldn’t be at either end. While his policies are stupid and reckless, the problem of terrorism is a legitimate one. That said it’s not so simple as to point at poor muslims from troubled parts of the world and treat them like lepers. To just assume that crowd are the ones who don’t “support our country and love deeply our people”. To say every traveler internationally coming from every country is in fact a case by case scenario is absolutely an understatement and so far nothing specific has been said about what criterion is to be used to tell the difference or to perform due dillegence in screening travelers from our country.
I believe there are genuine problems with Islamic fanaticism and how it drives modern terrorist groups out of the Middle East, but if the goal is to further vet and investigate those with travel visas to “prevent” this (if this is in fact an effective means to prevent this) then the Trump attitude is simply failing to find objective cause. It is terribly convenient for the strong white contingent that support Trump to overlook these things just to keep a handful of actual “evil Muslims” and “dangerious illegals” out of the country, and just let him openly interfere with the ongoings of all these procedures established and set forth by laws of the land with no clear plan to actually address any of the core problems.
Well, no plan besides issuing more executive orders like these, I predict.
Why we need to Deconstruct this Mess
Some of my friends and family are concerned about what is essentially a fascistic, dictatorial attitude the Trump takes with the office of the Presidency, and anytime someone takes the highest office with such a cavalier attitude I think they have some right to be concerned. Facts of the matter is though, for over 100 years the American political process has built itself up and not a single President in my lifespan didn’t do a slew of things worth ranting about like I have today with Trump. However unlike them, none of them were so brazen as to flagrantly treat the office of the Presidency like a celebrity Emperor or King and just wave around edicts like absolute proclamation. Just absolutely shameful that anyone let this essentially happen. It doesn’t change that at its core, the American government is growing fast and out of control and essentially is easy to corrupt.
Perhaps this is hard to look at after the generally well received Presidency of Barack Obama. Obama wasn’t one to shy away from executive orders and using the full stations of his office to get things done. However, in my life every President up to this point treated the office like a proper statesman, so even if they were momentarily egotistical, ignorant, or hung up on some stupid idea it was something that could be challenged or reasoned with. Trump though, represents something a little different. If you couldn’t tell by his executive orders, his campaign or his life in the media he is one person who will insist he won every fight laid before him and he believes he is doing good. Someone with that type of belligerence might appease the frustrated white voters who felt marginalized by progressives and other cultures, he might even represent them well in a way, but by no means is this right or healthy for our country. There are shallow, murky waters ahead.
Look, our government is growing in a massive way and every way we condense authority to singular figures just makes it more exploitable and at risk for corruption. I know many schools of political thought are based on this idea of central control – with the caveat that their politics should be the ruling class. I believe competing ideas is a healthy part of American society and that means we need to have more nuance and understanding in our discourse.
For instance, the political party system has created two establishments that aren’t really based on any sort of political philosophy, but rather competing attitudes and controlling interests. These political establishments have made government offices established, so many that it’s hard to summarize them all. These establishments build up old executive orders, old laws and old directives from every phase of expansion and never really wind it back. As time passes, we grow at greater risk of someone malicious getting hold of our political process and bending it to their will, essentially deriding the freedoms our society is based on.
If we can’t have a Presidential election for the highest office without it turning into a farce, why not break up the authorities of the President and divide it amongst more people and implement more checks and balances? Why even let the powers of these offices become so consolidated anyways, why not let sweeping pieces of legislation expire and force our government to reissue them? Some people might complain that this type of deconstructed government that is breaking itself down, dividing itself up and revalidating itself all the time might not be as efficient, but it sure as hell would be much more impervious to corruption or the manipulations of the small minded. One bad election cycle wouldn’t put us on our toes. The idea that we need everything central and driven by dictator-like edicts is a part of the New American Myth we live in everyday.
Again, shame on you if you approve of what you see when you look at Trump sitting in the Oval office. You might in fact be the problem with the country, not all those undesirable “other” kinds of folk.
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Projects & Links
The Thomas Jefferson Blog
My book that I wrote about a founding father who finds himself lost in time, set in the 2003-2006 post 9/11 Bush era of politics. Free for reading online, although I’ve abandoned efforts to get it published.
Read the Thomas Jefferson Blog ≫
Know True Evil
A small wallpaper page dedicated to those who lost their lives to the carelessness of government gone wrong.
Know True Evil ≫
Socialism WORKS! is a short website presentation I put together years ago with help from a friend. It is something of a snarky take on Socialism, critical of the advantages of Socialism from various origins of the idea.
Read Socialism WORKS!
My good friend Xavier Von Erck’s personal blog, he’s also the director of all the pjfi.org websites incidentally.
The Perverted Justice Foundation
Perverted Justice Foundation Inc. is a non-profit organization which works with law enforcement to help track and prosecute online predators. I help administrate all the sites on this network, in fact many of you may know me from my work there. If you don’t though, check it out.