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Posted on Jan 11, 2018

The country under the Trump presidency: Column

By Sandy Zavala

Donald Trump has been president of the United States for almost a year. For those who disagree with his policies and chafe at his contentious personality, the year felt like falling through a rabbit hole into a Wonderland that is decidedly more bizarre and perilous than one could have ever imagined. Those who view Donald Trump as the metaphorical arrival of the Second Messiah, he “that can do or say no wrong,” the populist champion of the forgotten man’s “real American” values, remain emboldened by his unmoored audacity. As a tribute to the presently endangered equanimity of the American presidency, let’s review some of Trump’s accomplishments and failings of 2017.
Both conservatives and liberals stand behind some of President Trump’s foreign policy initiatives. Trump supported the Obama-era “red-line” policy denouncing chemical warfare against innocent Syrian citizens by President Bashar al-Assad. The defeat of ISIS’ physical caliphate stronghold in Raqqah with coalition forces was an important victory against the spread of fundamentalist terror. Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirms, “The plan … was laid out two years ago, and has been executed pretty much in the manner and the schedule that was foreseen then.” Although liberals decry the Trumpian bullying that made NATO promise to pledge an additional $12 billion toward global military security, our nation is safer as a result.
Even the mutual admiration between Russia’s strongman Putin and our own Renegade-in-Chief appears to be deteriorating under bipartisan pressure to enforce a sanctions bill slated to roll out in late January. Although the White House refuses to recognize Russian meddling in our election, a fact unanimously upheld by every agency in our national intelligence community, the Trump administration finds its hands tied, unable to make excuses for Putin any longer.
At home Donald Trump passed comprehensive tax reform. Despite the national deficit skyrocketing $1.46 trillion in the next decade, wealthy conservatives and large corporations applaud sweeping deregulation and lower corporate tax rates. Given that corporate tax provisions do not expire in 2025 like those for individual filers, America’s CEOs are laughing all the way to the bank while middle-income Americans eventually foot the bill. Add the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and the highest court in the land swings conservative for the next generation. Twelve appeals court judges have also been confirmed. While conservatives rejoice, liberals worry that such a balance may plunge our beloved country back into the Dark Ages.
Now to the ugly underbelly of Trump’s first year. Let’s set aside his irrational, dishonest braggadocio and un-presidential taunts (oops, I meant tweets) – approximately 2,460 of them since taking office at this time. Let’s not pretend that ridiculing North Korea’s sadistic autocrat Kim Jong Un by tweeting, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his,” is exemplary statecraft. This recklessness could have tragic consequences for American citizens, our allies in the Pacific and friends all over the world. North Korea’s nuclear capabilities may still be in developmental stages, but Kim Jong Un acquired the microbes that cause smallpox and anthrax for a biological weapons program years ago. Trump’s inability to control his impulses should call his fitness for office into question. Let’s be honest. A President Pence would not plunge the globe into nuclear war. Let’s hope Defense Secretary Mattis, National Security Advisor General McMaster and Chief of Staff John Kelly can get to the nuclear football before Trump does.
Another dark stain on Donald Trump’s presidency is the ongoing Russia collusion investigation. There is no need to belabor the details. If there was no collusion, the Trump administration should welcome Bob Mueller’s efforts to resolve the issue. If there was no wrongdoing, the results of the investigation will vindicate Trump and his administration. President Trump, in his desperate need for praise and adulation, would relish a public exoneration. Don’t worry Mr. President. Your innocence will set you free.
Our country faces an existential crisis we have not seen since the Vietnam War. No longer do we view fellow Americans that are unlike ourselves as partners in the pursuit of freedom and prosperity. All we see is “the enemy,” strangers threatening our way of life who could never, ever share our goals. Heather Heyer, the protester plowed down by a car at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, stands as a tragic reminder that, “United we stand; divided we fall.”

Sandy Zavala is a former health care researcher, counselor and social worker. She lives in Quincy with her family.

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