When I began writing this “Alt Reality” series I couldn’t have chosen a more fitting name. Exactly one year ago today, Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States. I reflect on the last year, and the R.E.M. song ‘It’s the End of the World As We Know It’ plays on a loop in my head.
As I sit and write this today, hundreds of people are marching in my town – and thousands across America – in the second annual Women’s March. This morning, news headlines informed us of a government shutdown because the senate is unable to agree upon a budget. The day before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 45 referred to countries like Haiti and Africa as “shithole” countries in an Oval Office meeting to discuss immigration. Last week, the CDC held a conference to educate their employees on how to inform the American public on how to survive a nuclear attack.
Over the last year, prominent scientists and leaders have resigned their positions because of the current administration. One of the first acts 45 did as POTUS was green-light oil pipelines, and he has since worked hard to get national park boundaries reduced and environmental regulations nixed so corporations can frack and drill.
In December, 45 officially recognized Jerusalem as Isreal’s capital and moved the U.S. Embassy there. This reversed almost 70 years of American foreign policy and caused rioting and even deaths in the war-torn region.
A few months ago, the FCC passed what they are calling the “Internet Freedom” proposal, which effectively ended net neutrality. Other changes to the FCC’s Lifeline program the month before will have devastating impacts on low-income families, especially those who are Native American and live on reservations.
I’m not even sure where to begin on 45 and Twitter. He antagonizes North Korea with is tweets – it is terrifying and ridiculous that a nuclear war could be caused by a post on social media. But that is not out of the realm of possibility anymore.
It seems the boundaries of what is acceptable keep getting wider and wider. The rate that divisiveness is growing is exponential.
I remember watching late-night comics and Saturday Night Live make jokes about the possible lunacy that could ensue. Even that didn’t prepare me for what 45 has actually done, although I must say SNL is still a source of much-needed sanity for me. Sometimes I wonder if, one day, TV shows like that will be outlawed. That may sound extreme, crazy even, but is it really?
If you look at everything that has happened collectively – which is a soul-crushing undertaking, I know – it doesn’t seem unrealistic that, if allowed, 45 could outlaw free speech in many forms. He is already trying to silence science. He has been attacking the press since he began his campaign. One of the first things Adolf Hitler did was discredit mainstream media so he could control what the general public knew. That is kind of what is happening right now, in 2018, in America. For someone who constantly bashes North Korea’s leadership, 45 seems to want to emulate the control Kim Jong-un has over his citizens.
Have we become so self-involved and complacent that we will allow 45 to tear away at the very fabric of our society? It seems so very clear that he is 100% self-serving, unscrupulous and dishonest that I am baffled that he is still POTUS. It seems as if any one of several things could be grounds for him to be impeached. This last year, sexual misconduct has ruled the headlines, with prominent people in positions of power in all industries being fired for accusations – mere accusations. We have all heard countless things come out of 45’s very own mouth with our own ears, things like him talking about grabbing women by their genitals and countless derogatory and demeaning comments he’s made to women publicly, yet he still sits in the Oval Office. Where did all the outrage over Clinton’s tryst with Lewinsky go? We were ready to hang Bill by his boots, and 45 has done so much worse. Sometimes I feel like I am legitimately losing my mind.
I used to believe that there was a finite amount of change that one President could actually make, that there was a system of checks-and-balances to make sure nothing too crazy happened. Now I wonder. He has successfully made millions of people think that reputable, accredited news sources are “fake news,” he condoned and even suggested violence more than once during his campaign, he has infiltrated D.C. with his cronies, he has made statements both in person and on Twitter that have literally caused riots and deaths, he is actively trying to discredit science and is dismantling protected areas so industries can profit, his demeanor and speech have made the United States the joke of the world and he is seriously damaging our reputation as a world leader. All of this doesn’t even touch on his misogynistic and racist tendencies – of which there are plenty that have been well-documented.
When the election results came in last November, I tried to comfort myself by telling myself that there is only so much damage one man can do. And that may still be true, but I seriously underestimated the damage that could be done when a megalomaniac, narcissistic, racist, greed-monger is allowed to rule a country. Whether he serves his full term or is ousted from office, the divisive tenor 45 is creating will last long after he leaves the White House.