NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of The Rebel Report or Seton LaSalle Catholic High School.
By: Caleb Klemick
Today is a scary day. Today the United States loses a great leader and an even greater man. Today we replace a man who spent his whole life in service to his country and its citizens with a man who spent his entire life exploiting this country, its laws, and its citizens for self gain. Today a man takes a solemn vow to “preserve, protect, and defend” a document that it seems like he hasn’t even read. Today we replace a humble, caring man with a clueless bigot and over the next four years, we’re going to pay for it.
President Obama spent a majority of his Presidency fighting for equality on all fronts, especially healthcare. Through the Affordable Care Act, 16 million Americans who previously had no health care options received coverage. Not only did the ACA help a vast number of disadvantaged Americans, but it also fought discriminatory health care inequity in the process. According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ website, “Since 2013, the uninsured rate has dropped 9.2 percentage points for African Americans, resulting in 2.3 million adults gaining coverage and 12.3 percentage points for Latinos, resulting in 4.2 million adults gaining coverage. Since 2013, the uninsured rate among women declined 7.7 percentage points, resulting in 7.7 million women gaining coverage.” [a]
In contrast, throughout his campaign, President Trump consistently established himself as a partisan. In fact, President Trump began spouting hate speech the day he announced his candidacy in June of 2015. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.” [b]
This wildly hyperbolic generalization is well known because it evolved into one of President Trump’s key foreign policy points and a cornerstone of his campaign–the wall. According to President Trump’s website, the United States will begin construction on an “impenetrable physical wall on the southern border” today. But, more importantly to Trump, “Mexico will pay for the wall.” [c]
President Trump evidently never consulted the Mexican government about his xenophobic plan, though, because they (obviously) didn’t like the idea. In an interview with Fusion TV last February, former Mexican President Vicente Fox said, “I’m not going to pay for that [expletive] wall! He should pay for it. He’s got the money.” [d]
Following the interview with President Fox, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer confronted President Trump with the former Mexican President’s objection during a Republican debate. President Trump’s response to the real frustrations of a foreign dignitary attempting to defend the dignity of his people? “I will [make them pay], and the wall just got 10 feet taller, believe me.” [e]
Therein lies one of the major problems with President Trump. He employs humor, crudeness, and hostility to delegitimize the opinions of anyone who contradicts him or question his actions. He surrounds himself with like-minded people that dare not disagree with him. President Trump fails to realize that he’s no longer the star of a reality television show, he’s the President of the United States of America. He needs to realize that in many areas, there are people who are smarter than him and to be an effective President he will need to seek out and heed their input. Or, at the very least, he needs to acknowledge that different people have different ideas and ways of doing things, and just because they don’t line up with his own doesn’t mean they are any less valid opinions, nor do they have any less of a right to say it.
As if the open bigotry and bullheadedness weren’t enough, President Trump has also demonstrated himself to be sexist. While behind the scenes of an Access Hollywood interview in 2005, President Trump was recorded bragging about having extramarital sex and casually discussing the unwanted sexual advances he perpetrated against various women. He said, “Just kiss. Don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the [genitals]. You can do anything.” [f]
To summarize, that interview was the future most powerful man in the free world proudly and flippantly discussing his sexually predatory behaviors. The man charged with protecting the health, safety, and well-being of nearly 320 million men, women, and children was openly bragging about how he kissed and groped women without their consent. The man charged with defending and enforcing the laws of the United States was casually talking about committing a sex crime and an imprisonable offense in most states.
Immediately after the release of the tape, President Trump defended his comments in a written statement by saying, “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.” [g]
In this response, not only did President Trump not apologize for his despicable actions and attempt to deflect the blame onto former President Bill Clinton, he tacitly endorsed rape culture by using the phrase, “locker room banter” in his defense. This phrase trivializes and normalizes President Trump’s actions, and sexual assault in general, by using an excuse that can be likened to the old mantra, “Boys will be boys.”
After outrage had begun to mount in response to the video and President Trump’s failure to apologize, he released a video which contained what some are referring to as a “hostage-like apology.” In the video, he once again attempted to shift the brunt of the blame onto Bill Clinton and accused Hillary Clinton “and her kind” of “run[ning] our country into the ground.” He also said, “I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, or pretended to be someone I am not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words today in this more than a decade old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me, knows these words do not reflect who I am. I said it. I was wrong. And I apologize.” [h]
With the world embroiled in some of the most complex natural, political, and military predicaments ever, the United States needs someone at the helm who can rally the American public behind them. The United States needs someone who celebrates the diversity of this country’s population and uses that difference to their advantage. Now, more than ever, the United States needs to unify behind a leader who is willing to fight the good fight. Instead of doing that, the country elected an unqualified, militant, predatory zealot to the highest office in the land. Instead of unifying the country, President Trump has begun and will continue to disenfranchise everyone who is not a straight white man.
To everyone reading this who finds themselves in one of those disenfranchised groups, remember, no matter how it may look, President Trump’s beliefs do not reflect the opinions of everyone in this country. To quote Michelle Obama, “This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable.”
Finally, in her concession speech Hillary Clinton said, “[W]e believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone, for people of all races and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT[Q+] people and for people with disabilities. For everyone.”
The next four years will not be easy. There will be many moments in which the odds may look long, longer than ever, impossible even. But, giving up is not the answer, it’s never the answer. Do not fight the facts. Donald Trump is the President. He is our President. No matter anyone’s opinions on the subject, he was validly and legally elected to the office of President of the United States of America. But, that does not mean to not fight at all. Wherever possible, fight for what’s right, defend the oppressed, and assist the less fortunate, because, for the next four years, the government may shirk those duties. But, no matter the situation, always remember the battle cry of an incredible civil servant on his campaign for change. “Yes, we can.”