By Perry Diaz
Donald John Trump, the newly inaugurated President of the United States, must be wondering right now: “What the heck happened?” Barely a day in office, hundreds of thousands of protesters marched in front of the White House. They chanted, “Hey Hey, Ho Ho! Donald Trump has got to go!” An estimated 3.2 million Americans marched across America. And many more millions protested in countries around the world. The spontaneity was amazingly contagious; the magnitude was unbelievably stupefying. Yet, the peacefulness of the marches manifested the people’s desire for a healthy and painless change. What they see in Trump is the personification of Dante’s Inferno — a misogynistic and a narcissistic bigot.
Then on January 27, barely a week after taking office, Trump issued an executive order, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” which temporarily banned travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, namely: Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. The move sparked protests around the country as refugees and immigrants who had previously been approved to enter the United States were detained at airports.
The executive order was branded as a “Muslim ban” because of the gravity of the order.
Even people with valid permanent residency visa (green card) were barred and detained at the airports. Indeed, the Americans’ demonstration of support for the persecuted refugees has once again brought out the Americans’ sense of justice and fairness.
In a nutshell, the following is the executive order:
1. Suspend the entire U.S. refugee admissions system for 120 days.
2. Suspended the Syrian refugee program indefinitely.
3. Banned entry from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days following the signing of the order on January 27, 2017.
4. Temporarily banned entry of dual-nationals who are from those seven countries but have an additional passport for 90 days following the signing of the order.
Within 24 hours, tens of thousands of Americans protested at airports, demonstrating solidarity with the refugees and their families. Several lawsuits were filed in federal courts in several states. In particular, U.S. District Judge James Robart of Seattle issued a ruling temporarily blocking Trumps’ executive order. But while several federal judges issued their rulings within their jurisdictions, Robart’s ruling — which stopped the executive order in its entirety – was enforced nationwide.
While there is still a large number of Americans who approved Trump’s executive order, a much larger majority opposed it. A Gallup Poll conducted on January 30-31 showed the following results: (1) Ordering temporary ban on entry into U.S. for most people from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Approve 42%, Disapprove 55%; and (2) Indefinitely suspending the U.S. Syrian Refugee Program: Approve 26%, Disapprove 58%.
Evidently, with barely two weeks on the job, Trump had lost the mandate to govern the American people, albeit one could argue that he never had a mandate to begin with because he lost the popular vote by almost three million. It was only because of a quirky calculus in the electoral system that gave him more electoral votes than his rival, Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, the U.S. is stuck with an anachronistic voting system.
And while the protesters continue to express their anger, Trump’s controversial chief strategist and senior advisor Steve Bannon called the media, “The Opposition Party – it should keep its mouth shut!” Bannon should know better – being a media man himself – that if he attacked the media, the media would attack him hundred-fold.
History tells us that the media could be your best ally or worst enemy. And right now, the media has been unkind in its criticism of Trump, and that says a lot about the path Trump is taking for the rest of his first term, which put in question whether he’d win a second term with the opposition already building up… even in his own Republican Party.
Bannon, who turned the far-right website Breitbart News into a haven for racists, anti-Semites, and misogynists, is notoriously known for his virulent anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric. One of his published articles, “Young Muslims In the West Are a Ticking Time Bomb,” may have influenced Trump into hastily issuing his controversial “Muslim ban.”
As Trump’s chief strategist, Bannon – who reports directly to Trump — would be in a position to influence Trump’s domestic and foreign policies. Recently, Trump gave Bannon a regular seat on the “reorganized” National Security Council’s (NSC) Principals Committee.
At the same time, he removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) from regular attendance at NSC meetings. As a consequence, the highest military official and highest intelligence official will only participate “where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed.” Is it fair to presume that Bannon would henceforth use his seat at the NSC to promote and advance his “white nationalist” – a euphemism for “white supremacist” – orientation and agenda?
Bannon’s apparent hold on Trump reminds us of Rasputin, the last Czar and Czarina’s “mystical” advisor, whom many historians believed was one of the causes – if not the primary cause — of the fall of the czarist Russian Empire.
With Bannon as his guiding guru, is Trump going to be the Pied Piper using “America First” to lead the American people to a Trumpetized land where immigrants, minorities, and non-Christians would become second class citizens? Is he going to divide America into a caste system where white nationalists would lord over the country and create a class of “undesirables,” where they can be controlled and manipulated by the ruling class? Is this the “Trump Nation” that he envisions America to be?
Indeed, Abraham Lincoln must be turning in his grave right now. The number of American soldiers – Union and Confederate — buried in places like Gettysburg and Antietam; and the volume of blood that saturated the battlefields during the Civil War are beginning to lose their significance. What we’re seeing today is an attempt to reverse the gains and lessons learned from the American Civil War.
In Trump’s world, plutocrats – Trump and his billionaire friends – would run a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. And with Trump filling vacancies in the Supreme Court with right-wing judges, it won’t be long before the high court would reverse laws that aren’t good for business. The Supreme Court’s controversial “Citizens United” ruling would remain unchallenged and would become the cornerstone to perpetuate Plutocracy.
At the end of the day, what we’re seeing today is a clash between two types of government: Democracy vs. Plutocracy. Democracy is – as Lincoln had aptly defined it – Government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” whereas, Plutocracy is defined as “Government by the wealthy.” And to that end, Trump is the epitome of Plutocracy. (PerryDiaz@gmail.com)