Donald Trump has been our Commander and Chief for a little under a year now. The barrage of scandal that we have endured since then, sometimes causes us to lose sight of all the shitty, little things he has managed to achieve along the way. This is a breakdown of some of those things.
10. He Reduced Protections For Our National Parks And Monuments
Trump has broadcasted a distaste for our country’s natural monuments and parks. In a recent move, he reduced the size of two monuments in Utah - Bears Ears National Monument, by 85 percent, and Grand Staircase-Escalante, by half. This represents the largest rollback of federal land protection in our nation’s history. And the federal land that remains, has become subject to great mining and natural gas exploration.
9. He Inflamed Tensions By Moving The U.S. Embassy In Israel To Jerusalem
Donald Trump has decided the U.S. Embassy in Israel shall be moved from Tel Aviv to the politically controversial city of Jerusalem. Different polities have claimed a stake to the holy city, which makes the decision an inflammatory one for multiple parties (including the Palestinians). This will undoubtedly push the possibility of peaceful negotiations between Israel and Palestine that much further outside the realm of possibility.
But hey, it’s not like the Middle East is politically unstable, or anything.
8. He Transformed The Federal Judiciary
Donald Trump has completely transformed the federal judiciary, and I am not just referring to his appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. In his short tenure as President, 45 has appointed 9 appellate judges, and 6 judges to the United States district courts.
He has put forth far more nominations than Obama in this time, predominantly because the GOP blocked Obama from making appointments to the judiciary as early as 2014. Consequently, Trump has a lot of vacancies to fill, and the political support to do it.
These judges see thousands more cases than the 80 a year the Supreme Court reviews. Even if Democrats retake the legislative branch in 2018, these conservative judges will be impacting the rule of law for years to come.
7. He Undid Environmental Protections
Donald Trump has been savage in his crusade to rollback environmental protections. The most infamous part of this vendetta was withdrawing from the Paris Agreement for “a better deal,” which by the way isn’t possible since the agreement allowed the United States to set its own terms. Obama signed it, however, since it has to go.
The thing that hasn’t garnered as much attention is 45’s defanging of the Environmental Protection Agency. Under Scott Pruitt’s stewardship, over 30 environmental rules have been delayed, undone, or blocked - the largest regulatory rollback in the EPA’s 47-year history.
Hopefully, there’s an EPA left by 2020.
6. He Dramatically Restricted Immigration
Donald Trump may have failed (so far) to get his border wall along the US-Mexican border, but he has been remarkably more successful with using the executive branch to curb immigration. The administration has increased the number of round-ups of undocumented immigrants, ramped up workplace raids, expanded detention space, decreased the number of refugees allowed into this country, and pushed for the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
Let’s also not forget that he let the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA expire. This will impact thousands of immigrants that do not have citizenship here, despite having been raised here for most of their lives.
5. He Resurrected The War On Drugs
For decades the War on Drugs, has sought to end drug trafficking by harshly penalizing drug offenders. This had a detrimental effect on the United States, particularly for communities of colors who have endured hirer incarceration and arrest rates for drug-related offenses.
Despite overwhelming evidence that such a strategy has been an abject failure, Donald Trump is going full steam ahead away with this damaging, and arguably racist, policy. His administration has strengthened the government's power of civil forfeiture, which is the practice of police seizing cash and goods from people suspected of a crime (because in America due process doesn’t really apply to people driving while brown. His administration has also encouraged prosecutors to pursue the harshest sentences for low-level drug offenses.
4. He Undid LGBTQA+ protections
LGBTQA+ people made some gains during President Obama’s tenure. Same-sex marriage, perhaps, being the most notable example. 45’s administration has been working actively to undo those gains.
Trump has asserted that employees both in and out of the federal government can be fired for being queer. He has attempted to place a ban on transgender service people in the military, though, that decision is currently being ignored (fingers-crossed). The Justice Department has also sent out a directive to agencies across the federal government to accommodate people’s religious freedoms as much as possible. Language that is often viewed as code for endorsing homophobia.
3. He Tarnished The News
Donald Trump has been quite open for his distaste for the “mainstream media.” He has labeled all dissenting opinions as “fake news” and exacerbated a longstanding trend of diminished support of the media as an institution.
According to Gallop in 2016, 14% of Republicans reported having trust in the media. This is a dramatic shift from just one year ago where it was at 32%. That is still low, but the decline since Trump is telling.
This insulates him from pretty much all forms of criticism, and makes our democracy that much weaker.
2. He Tarnished Our Elections
Even before his unfortunate victory, 45 was undermining the credibility of U.S. elections. He sserted that millions of fraudulent votes were cast by the opposition. This is not true, and no credible evidence exists to support this claim.
Since being sworn into office, 45 has established a Voting Commission to look into the nonexistent threat of voter fraud. This commission has already set the stage to undermine the legitimacy of our elections, as Commission ally Kris Kobach did when he implied that the commission had found evidence (they didn’t) that invalidated a 2016 Senate Race in New Hampshire. This commission has the potential to put forth serious voter suppression in the coming months and years.
1. He Tarnished The Brand Of The Presidency
The Office of Presidency has always held a reverent place in the eyes of the public. We were taught to respect the institution, even if we didn’t always like the person in office. This perception is no longer as true as it once was.
Trump was not alone in subverting this office, but he does represent a significant blow. The duplicitous way he acquired power makes much of his opposition doubt the very validity of his presidency, and if Democrats do manage to secure the executive in 2020 (or sooner) we have no assurances that what remains of the conservative party will respect the institution enough to follow through on a peaceful transfer of power.