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State of our union

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Two years into Trump’s presidency, what has been accomplished?


It has now been just over two years since Donald Trump was inaugurated into the highest elected position in the United States. As president, Trump had two years of GOP majority party in the Senate, House, White House, and made appointments to the Supreme Court. But how have the nation’s policies changed – for better or for worse – over those two years? How has the nation itself changed?

Trump no longer has the majority party support in both chambers of Congress as he did in his first two years. Following the November midterm elections, the Democratic Party regained control of the House of Representatives with a 36-seat lead. Election results spurred a change of leadership and long-serving Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker. The current Congress is the most diverse in our nation’s history. This diversity brings greater challenges to the president. 

President Trump’s campaign motto was “Make America Great Again” and he continues to tout this theme as president. However, is Trump making America great again? Or is he leading the nation down a path of darkness? In our polarized political culture, this is a hotly debated issue. 

It is difficult to identify exactly what makes a nation “great” but there are some common themes used on both sides of the political aisle. Special investigations, for example, can be used to expose wrong doing in the federal government. Trump’s presidency has not escaped its scrutiny. Ongoing investigations on Trump’s campaign team and potential connections to Russia often dominate national news on a daily basis. Supporters of the president argue that these investigations are unnecessary and are only attempting to create chaos, while opponents hold that if nothing is to be uncovered then there shouldn’t be so much resistance to these investigations. Similarly, although no definitive results have been released, it is suspected that Mueller’s investigation may be entering its final days. 

Trump also wants to focus on “America First” – his approach to foreign relations. Isolationist in nature, Trump’s America First policy has damaged the United States’ image abroad. 

One of Trump’s first moves as president was to remove the United States from the Paris Climate Accords, as he has repeatedly denied climate change and the science around it. Opposition has boiled because of his position with state and local governments which are now taking the charge to combat climate change. Moreover, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently released the outline of a resolution she calls the Green New Deal. 

In addition to this, the nation is now recovering from its longest government shutdown. Trump finally gave in and approved an extension to reopen government agencies until Friday Feb. 15 – only two days away now. The main discord within the government shutdown was border security. Trump wanted funding for his wall and the Democrats in the House refused to give him the money. 

Critics of the shutdown did not approve of President Trump’s methods. 

“I am proud to shutdown the government for border security,” said Trump, in a December meeting.

For someone wanting to make America great again, holding hostage American workers in the federal government, maintenance of US national parks, and limiting people’s access to government services is not an achievement. 

Trump seemed to contradict himself again in his State of the Union address on border security. 

“I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally,” said Trump in his address. 

One legal path of immigration into the United States is through seeking asylum; a process of which many in the migrant caravans were looking to undergo. However, law dictates that people must either be present in the United States or at a port of entry to legally seek asylum. Trump closed the border crossing near Tijuana after the migrants arrived, making their passage illegal.

Another problem that has arose in the United States over Trump’s presidency are incidents involving people wearing MAGA hats or similar uses of MAGA. Although he’s not directly endorsing these people, the President’s name is attached to these hats as it is his motto. A recently released FBI report found that hate crimes were up by 17 percent in 2017 – the first year of Trump’s leadership. Recent incidents include a possible hate crime against American actor and singer Jussie Smollett and students with Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky. 

The investigation into the attack on Smollett is still being carried out, but USA Today reported that Sergeant Cindy Guerra with the Chicago Police Department confirmed that Smollett said his alleged attackers yelled, “This is MAGA country” along with other racial and homophobic slurs. 

Although the breaking news stories did not show the entire picture surrounding the Covington Catholic incident, the students involved still painted a bad picture. The students were in Washington, D.C. for the annual March for Life rally where they ran into a group of Black Hebrew Israelites – who claim direct descension from the ancient Israelites – in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Nathan Phillips, a 64-year old Native American Marine veteran was also present at the memorial for the Indigenous Peoples March. Phillips was trying to intervene in the conflict to bring peace and balance to the situation. Phillips told the Washington Post that “the guy [Nick Sandmann] in the hat stood in my way, and we were at an impasse”. The President tweeted support for the students saying they were treated unfairly and smeared by the media. 

Another incident affected UNK’s campus and community. At the Chinese Student Association’s annual Chinese Festival event, an older man approached the stage when members of the audience were asked to volunteer in a demonstration of kung fu. The situation quickly turned sour when the man yelled at one student on stage. The man began spouting claims of being able to hurt the student but not wanting to and to “quit laughing at me!”. This man was escorted out of the Ponderosa Room. He was wearing a black MAGA hat. 

Trump was finally invited to give his address to the gathered bodies of the federal government last Tuesday. Despite having little to say in terms of solutions in his State of the Union address – exemplified by Speaker Pelosi’s now viral clapback – Trump identified many problems with our nation and made an interesting call for unity. Trump took an approach outside his norm by calling for Democrats and Republicans to put differences aside for the betterment of the nation.  As we look to the rest of Trump’s presidency, we must wonder if unity will be achieved through his guidance or if it will be a case of “do as I say, not as I do”

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