The Independent

The consequences of Trump’s first year

 

Well, we all survived the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Even if you support him, you had to “survive” this first year too. You had to defend his misbehavior, which must have been difficult since a lot of it was indefensible.

It’s no wonder that members of his own party have decided to ignore his childish antics and focus instead on getting him on the Republican agenda. It’s a like “fire and fury” work-around, and it’s been effective.

Somewhere over the course of the year, Washington’s GOP leadership figured out they were better off tolerating the Narcissist in Chief while sticking to the task at hand, and as a result they got a good chunk of what they wanted. Tax cuts, a more conservative judiciary and the lifting of the Affordable Care Act’s “individual mandate” where three of their biggest accomplishments, which gives them something to crow about for this year’s midterm election.

Meanwhile, those who oppose Trump had to survive his vitriolic rants and his divisive rhetoric. And if you’re an undocumented immigrant, it’s more than words.

Trump’s deportation policies have become life-and-death issues for some who are being forced to return to their violent homelands—places like El Salvador, where gang warfare will place many of them in harm’s way. Here’s hoping they survive anyway.

Also in this first tumultuous year, the world survived the face-off between North Korea and the U.S. It doesn’t matter your political bent on this one; except for Hawaii we all got to breathe a sigh of relief when the bluster subsided. And now we should all hope and pray that cooler heads will prevail as we learn to accept the fact that, yep, North Korea is now a nuclear power.

Having said all that with my obvious anti-Trump bias, I’m certain that a lot of his supporters will simply dismiss my words as more “liberal media” spin, or maybe even “fake news” altogether. That’s another great accomplishment of Trump’s presidency: Alternative facts. It’s not enough anymore to speak truth to power, because “truth” is now a relative term.

This is, of course, an opinion column, so feel free to agree or disagree with me. But beyond such punditry there are still fact-checkers out there. Truths are still being exposed by truth-seeking reporters, but their work is being undercut by Trump-era spin rooms peddling the latest news-bending perspectives. There are still ways for a thoughtful, truth-seeking consumer of the news to discern fact from fiction, but thoughtful, truth-seeking news consumers are getting harder and harder to come by.

Let’s face it, the American electorate has been dumbed down considerably. Exhibit A to support my point: We elected a “reality television” star, a silver-spoon billionaire, and selected him to be our great and powerful leader. If that’s not dumbed down, I don’t know what is.

An uninformed citizenry is a real threat to our way of life. When the facts become buried in a mountain of misconceptions, half-truths and lies, that’s a clear and present danger to democracy. We The People can’t make smart decisions if we don’t really understand the issues in front of us.

Trump has also dumbed down our foreign policy. Without understanding the intricacies of our relationships with other nations, he’s either purposefully or accidentally pulling us out of our leadership position in the world.

The Paris climate agreement is a perfect example of how the U.S., under Trump’s one-dimensional leadership, is relinquishing this nation’s position as “leader of the free world.” In case you haven’t noticed, the world is moving in the future without us.

At this rate, this won’t be another “American century.” China’s or Russia’s maybe, but not America’s.

And speaking of Russia, Trump survived a year’s worth of investigations, though it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll survive another. With the spinmeisters managing to cast a cloud over the Robert Mueller investigation, we may face a constitutional crisis if prosecution comes too close to the president.

But now we’re looking ahead, to Trump’s second year. Let’s save that for another time. Right now we need to take a breather. After all, we just survived the first year.

Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange and owns The Guadalupe County Communicator in Santa Rosa. He can be reached at tmcdonald@gazettemediaservices.com.