In less than a month, the Trump administration’s actions have unleashed a widespread wave of outrage and protest—local, national and global—more pervasive and sharper-edged than George W. Bush managed in eight years of waging a ruinous, endless and illegal war against Iraq.
Trump’s crusade against immigrants and refugees met with a harsh response in much of the U.S. and foreign media. The contradiction between the words of welcome to immigrants inscribed on the Statue of Liberty and the administration’s most unwelcoming actions and attitudes toward refugees and immigrants was a common denominator.
The cover of the German Der Spiegel magazine (shown atop) depicted Trump holding the decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty in one hand and a sword in the other. The cover of the New Yorker showed greyish-white smoke rising from Lady Liberty, an obvious allusion to the smoke that would come out of the chimneys in the crematoria of the death camps where the Nazis slaughtered millions of Jews during the Holocaust.
Media criticism may eventually sway public opinion but it has little immediate effect on Trump and his core supporters who regularly sneer at and vilify the press. In fact, this administration smears and insults any individual or institution who opposes their program, including judges. Trump’s style of governing is in reality more of a furious fusillade of chaotic, poorly thought-out executive orders and insults that lack the minimal coherence of a program but resemble a series of tantrums.
Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven, predominantly Muslim countries and his blanket suspension of refugee admissions is a prime example of an executive order that was issued without a thorough analysis. It was dead on arrival the first time a judge heard the case. In all, three lower court judges ruled against the administration before last week, when a three-judge panel of a Court of Appeals rejected the administration’s appeal unanimously and affirmed the lower courts’ decisions, effectively making the ban dead on its tracks for now.
The administration could appeal to the Supreme Court. But with the Court deadlocked 4-4 along ideological lines, the vote would come out as a tie, which means the Appeal Court’s ruling would stand. Trump appears instead to be counting on and waiting until his extremely conservative nominee to the high court is confirmed by the Senate. He announced that in the meantime he would issue a new executive order presumably crafted to withstand judicial review.
So far, the dawn of the Trump era has been marked by mean-spiritedness, improvisation, and sheer incompetence—among other virtues. And it’s not only Trump who spits out falsehoods and inaccurate information faster than bullets out of an automatic rifle. Recent reporting indicates that General Michael T. Flynn, [who stepped down as] head of the National Security Council [on Monday]—another key institution in disarray under Trump—lied to Vice President Michael Pence regarding whether he talked about sanctions with the Russian Ambassador before Trump became president, which would be a violation of the law. Flynn’s falsehood in turn caused Pence to mislead the nation and, in retrospect, look like a fool.
The administration’s faux pas range from the serious business of national security to the crass business of merchandising fashion. In response to Nordstrom’s decision to drop first-daughter Ivanka Trump’s line of products, Kellyanne Conway, counsel to the president, said people should buy all of Ivanka’s products which, she helpfully added, are available online. This too, which Conway herself described as a commercial, is a potential violation of the law.
The “Three Stooges” couldn’t top the Trump administration’s act. But let’s not be fooled. Republicans in Congress are moving like a steamroller to create a thousand points of darkness in American society, from endangering the health and lives of countless people by undoing Obamacare to even further increasing inequality by sharply lowering taxes for the wealthy to revving up global warming by abolishing controls on the pollution caused by the extractive (oil, coal, natural gas) and other industries.
The bad news is that, with control of both houses of Congress and the support of Trump, the Republicans will be able to enact these and other nefarious measures.
Optimists say the level of resistance to the early actions of Trump augurs a new level activism that will soon begin to swing the pendulum in the other direction. Some are just hoping that the administration will unravel by the sheer chaos it continually produces.
In this regard, the worst is yet to come. The dismantling of Obamacare will produce turmoil in the health care market that will adversely affect many people almost immediately. The insurance companies already have started to complain about the uncertainty regarding the new rules of the game.
We cannot rely on the Trump administration to self-destruct spontaneously. Silence equals death, inaction spells defeat. We need to resist fiercely at every turn of the screw and at every level, peacefully through demonstrations, civil disobedience, boycotts of the Trump brand—the whole package.
Locally, let’s raise hell too. The Miami-Dade County Commission threw the head of the area’s Democratic party out of a recent meeting for attempting to discuss Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s shameful cave-in to Trump on immigration.
The chair of the commission, Steven Bovo, wants to limit all discussion to a February 17 special commission meeting. By all means let’s pack that meeting. But let’s not play into Bovo’s hand. Let’s disrupt business as usual at every commission meeting until Miami-Dade County does the right thing and renounces its complicity with Trump’s immigration dragnet.