As of today, we’re two months into Trump’s Presidency. Has he really accomplished all that much?
The early days of a Presidential administration are usually formative, sometimes transformative. A new President must learn the ropes while the country, the world, the Congress, and the vast executive apparatus all have to figure out how to deal with the newcomer. The first two months of the Trump administration have been rockier than most, in both directions. One of the major effects of this tumultuous initiation is that Trump, by any measure you’d like to use, hasn’t accomplished much at all so far.
Let’s tally up what he’s actually done:
* Implemented a Muslim travel ban twice; got slapped down twice. * Released a harrowing budget that looks to gut everything the government does except bombing people. * Appointed some (but not all) of his Cabinet officers, and very few of the hundreds of federal appointments to which he is entitled. * Stepped up Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions, which have conducted hundreds of raids and deported an unknown number of people since Trump took office. * Ranted a lot on Twitter; made up plenty of conspiracies as to why he's not done well so far.
He’s ignited plenty of media firestorms, and perhaps his most destructive steps so far have involved tearing families apart by sending non-citizens (undocumented immigrants, visa-holders, some with permanent residency) away. Trump might tout these actions as victories, but they primarily generate confusion, misery, and heartbreak. It’s hard to say the US is being made a better country through such policies.
Not much progress has been made on some of Trump’s key promises, either. He backtracked on his promise to only use American-made steel in pipeline projects–now it only applies to new projects not already underway. He promised to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, but Republicans’ proposal for doing that has fallen flat. He made a Supreme Court appointment in the form of Neil Gorsuch, and he’s only just now getting a confirmation hearing. His infamous wall along the US-Mexico border has fallen prey to massive international unpopularity and serious logistical shortcomings. His military actions thus far have involved intensifying Obama-era drone strikes and anti-terrorism raids, but these have been botched and killed more civilians than anything. It’s clear that he has no intention of behaving prudently in any of these areas, mainly because he has no idea what he’s doing.
All of this is great for top advisor Steve Bannon, who talks (or cons) Trump into an endless series of unforced errors that dominate news cycles and raise Trump’s hackles. Bannon is someone who’d like to watch the world burn, and trolling the entire planet by getting Trump to make absurd statements and implement nonsensical, illegal policies sows precisely the kind of chaos he’s looking for.
Credit is certainly due the massive resistance that has sprung up against him. Republican politicians are, in many cases, afraid for the consequences of going along with Trump’s agenda–and well they should be. When hundreds of thousands of people march against a brand-new President, you know you’re living in an unusual time. People are also engaging in direct actions that may not get a lot of attention: individuals physically blocking people from being deported; work strikes by people who are vulnerable to Trump’s terrible policies; groups who are organizing to fill the yawning gaps Trump seeks to create in government services. While nothing is certain, it looks more and more like Trump’s opposition at least has the numbers to outlast and defeat him. But a true defeat requires looking forward to 2018 and 2020, as well. It’s entirely possible Democrats will not get their act together and fight a 50-state offensive against the GOP, in which case it will fall to determined outsiders to run on their own. And as Trump and his party begin to find common ground and work together to implement their worst policy notions, direct actions against their agenda may need to be intensified.
I never know if it’s possible to exaggerate just how bad things might get. We’re only a couple months in, which means we have a long way to go, and Trump’s administration has been both better and worse than expected. Better in that he’s been unable to carry out his worst ideas unopposed; but worse in that things seem to be deteriorating. The White House is full of paranoid, distrustful people all jockeying for position and favor. Instead of a stable executive, we have chaos. So much is uncertain that it’s difficult to know what the new few years will be like. That makes it hard to plan and prepare opposition and resistance. What I do know is that platforms like It’s Going Down represent the bleeding edge of that resistance and will likely be essential in the fights to come.
Trump’s administration is wounded but not fatally, stymied but not deterred, obstructed but not defeated. Vigilance and perseverance are our allies.