Isabella Capanda ‘19: Since his inauguration on January 20, 2017, President Donald Trump faced difficult decisions, public scrutiny, and sheer pressure of being the leader of the free world all within his first year of taking office. Many people cannot fathom this idea because the inauguration feels like a lifetime ago considering all the events that transpired. This feeling also means that some of the most important developments get swept under the rug. In consideration to this, isn’t a reflection in order?
January of 2017 felt like the most uncertain month of the year. Just twenty days after welcoming a new year, the United States watched its new leader sworn into office on the steps of the capital. Not even 24 hours in to his presidency, President Trump enacted his first executive order that he claims provides relief from the Affordable Care Act. Five days later, he signed another executive order to begin building the Mexican border wall. It states that funds for this project will come from cities that “cities that shield illegal immigrants,” as stated by Julia Edwards Ainsley, a writer for www.aol.com. One of the most memorable and controversial event that occured in January came from another executive order that authorizes the temporary ban on “all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days and stopping Syrian refugees from coming into the country indefinitely” (Joseph, Cameron. www.nydailynews.com). Immediately the public responded, and not in the way the president expected. Airports flooded with protesters, cities united to protect the nations immigrants, and government officials tirelessly sought a way to avoid the ban. The next night, federal judge Ann Donnelly ruled that “individuals with refugee applications approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of the US Refugee Admissions Program, holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas, and other individuals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen legally authorized to enter the United States” (Diamond, Jeremy. www.cnn.com) could not be removed. These major events that occurred in such a short period of time gave Americans a glimpse of what the next four years hold in store, and for some it’s a cruel future.
In February, President Trump’s approval rating dropped below 40%. Pew Research Center found that “Trump’s overall job approval is much lower than those of prior presidents in their first weeks in office: 39% approve of his job performance, while 56% disapprove.” Michael Flynn also resigned from his position as the president’s national security advisor in response to his communication with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. Flynn misinformed Vice President Pence as well as other officers about the content of said communication. Reports of phone records that claim President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was contacted several times, however there is no evidence of the United States and Russia collaborating. February also included the reverse of former President Obama’s mandate that required public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their gender identity. President Trump stated that federal government should not regulate decisions that the state and schools are capable of making. This led to protest across the nation as a sea of rainbow flags blew in the wind. Although President Trump was the first republican president to include the LGBT+ community into his inaugural speech, the community sees this as a major set back and continues to wonder if these changes will continue.
The month of March contains the release of a revised executive order that continues to ban immigrants. However, President Trump has removed Iraq in this ban. Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan are still banned as a ‘national security measure.’ Though this time it will be more orderly. Those who are traveling to the US and have been approved previously will be able to enter the United States. Although this is still a ban, the executive order shows a development in our leader in his consideration of how his actions impact the lives of others and provides hope that he can be a great leader.
In April the US bombed Syria. This was in retaliation to the chemical gas attacks that killed more than 100 people. President Trump stated in a public address that “it is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.” Because of this attack, relations between Russia and the US have been sorely damaged considering the support that Syria has from Russia. In brighter news, President Trump personally presented the Purple Heart to Army Sergeant First Class Alvaro Barrientos, a soldier who lost his right leg in Afghanistan. President Trump told Barrientos that he wanted to deliver this award personally as this experience is the first time Trump would be visiting the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
May was a daunting month. President Trump fired the FBI director, James Comey, for misleading the public to believe that the President was under investigation in correspondence to the Trump-Russia affair. May also saw a North Korean ballistic missile test that is keeping Nation Defense officials on edge. As tensions continue to rise between the US and North Korea, people around the world can only fear for the beginning of a third world war. In response to this fear, Pope Francis asks that President Trump be a peacemaker during the president’s visit to the Vatican. The pope presented to the president a sculpture of an olive tree, a universal symbol of peace. “It is my desire that you become an olive tree to construct peace,” said the pope (Pullella, Philip. Holland, Steve. www.aol.com). President Trump accepted the gift and promised to use peace in his advancement as our nation’s leader.
In June the US pulled out of the Paris Climate deal that is dedicated to improving the conditions of the climate. President Trump stated that he would continue to seek way to boost environmental conditions once modifications were made that would not harm the economy of the US. Of course there is much controversy because of this, however Trump stands with this ruling and is working to improve the situation to the best of his ability.
The all too comfortable feeling of taking one step forward but then taking two steps back summarizes the events of July. President Trump barred transgender individuals from serving in the US military. He justified himself by stating that “[the US] military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail” (Reuters Thomson. www.aol.com). This caused an uproar of protest across the nation. People took to Twitter, resisting in Times Square, and headlining major news networks. The nation’s people united against Trump’s ban showing the unity that the US is so proud of.
August took another toll on the nation when the violence of Charlottesville became national news. The aggression furthered when President Trump said that ‘both sides’ were to blame for the violence that occurred. This statement angered so many people and then resulted in President Trump clarifying his comment. He said that by removing a General Robert E. Lee statue (he was a general for the Confederate Army), it could lead to removing statues of George Washington because they both owned slaves. President Trump then continued to use this scenario to back his statement that “You are changing history, you are changing culture” (Merica, Dan. www.cnn.com) when you take down statues of past leaders. This fallacious comparison left the public annoyed at the president for coming to such an absurd conclusion. It also left them hoping for peace and resolution for Charlottesville.
In September the nation mourned for the horrible events of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria. President Donald Trump thanked the first responders and volunteers during this time of devastation. His support for the victims shows the remorse he feels for not being able to do more, but he promises to get financial support for the victims quickly. Later in the month, President Trump expressed his desires to avoid military interaction with North Korea. A little over a week after, President Trump claimed that the US would ‘totally destroy’ North Korea if a war were to break out and then mocked its leader, Kim Jong Un, by calling him ‘rocket man.’ This shocked the world leaders who were present at the time of this comment. The people went into a frenzy wondering if we were headed toward another world war. This wouldn’t be the last time that the president’s mouth would get him in trouble this month. On September 22, President Trump said “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, get that son of a b—h off the field right now. He is fired,” at his Alabama rally. This caused even more protests occurring during the national anthem, even those NFL owners stood by their teams as the song was played. Showing just how united we are as a nation.
October began with the horrifying shooting in Las Vegas. Once more the US showed what it truly means to be red, white, and blue. That is united. Later in the month, New York fell victim to a terror attack. The accident killed eight people and left at least a dozen injured. This month proved how undivided we are as a nation when worst comes to worst. It proved that Americans can come together no matter the race, the religion, the salary, the title, and the gender. October showed just how diverse our community is and the acceptance of our community. While to some the most important issue is predicting if the president will be impeached, the public embraced these two tragic events and demonstrated the humility of our great nation.
President Trump started November off by taking a visit to Japan. There he made national news by dumping his box of pellets into a koi pond during the traditional koi fish feeding ceremony with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Though people saw the image and labeled President Trump as being disrespectful, he only dumped the box after Prime Minister Abe did. Then just as America starts to calm, President Trump calls Senator Elizabeth Warren ‘Pocahontas,’ referring to her Native American heritage, during a White House event where he honored World War II Navajo Code Talkers. This comment received a lot of backlash because people saw this as a racial slur and a degradation towards Native Americans. The White House responded by saying that President Trump did not intend for the remark to be taken in such a degrading manner, he simply saw it as a comparison between two remarkable women who have changed the history of America. However the damage was done the moment the president began talking about Senator Warren, and no amount of remorse will surpass the shame that the American people felt for having President Trump as our nation’s leader.
In December Michael Flynn pleaded guilty of lying to the FBI about his contact with Russia. Though the White House stated that they were shocked with Flynn’s appeal, President Trump defended the former National Security Advisor. He said that he thought it was unfair that Flynn’s career was destroyed forever and compared his situation to that of Hillary Clinton’s. No matter how hard President Trump tries to defend Flynn, the ruling is set in stone and the damage is done. Later in the month, President Trump decided to give the nation an early Christmas gift, a new tax plan. The plan “would slash the U.S. corporate tax rate to 21 percent and cut taxes for wealthy Americans” and “the corporate tax would be 1 percentage point higher than the 20 percent rate earlier proposed, but still far below the current headline rate of 35 percent, a deep tax reduction that corporations have sought for years” (Alindogan, Marah. www.aol.com). Democrats were enraged, claiming that the plan would benefit the wealthy instead of the middle class, however the president is optimistic about this plan. He believes that the new tax reform will bring money back into the country and further the prosperity of America. All the American people can do is hope that this is the right decision and wait for the results to show.
This year has been a roller coaster to say the least. America faced many trivial issues and in some cases the nation became divided, but at the end of the we came together as one. Though President Trump has only finished a quarter of his term, America can rely on the unity of its people to push through the challenges of the future.