January 20th, 2017 marked the beginning of a new era. Some would call it the start of America’s journey to regaining greatness, while a majority - yes, a majority, President Trump - fear the start of a downward spiral, ultimately leading us to what could be called the dark age (a much warmer one, for sure). Being an optimist to the core, I am overpowered by the urge to not let myself run around in panic, not yet at least. After all, I am from what is considered a “third world” nation and having seen my fair share of both good and not-so-good leaders, I am confident that although bad policies slow down progress, governments do realize their mistakes in good time. Despite my optimism, the realist in me has a contradicting view. She questions if it is even worth the pain to put up with a leader to whom you have no faith in, let them lead us into a quagmire, and then remorsefully drag us out of it. I consider this internal dilemma appropriate given current circumstances. This internal debate keeps me aware of what I am walking into by constantly questioning the decisions my leader makes while keeping my mind open to any new ideas that could get us closer to achieving a greater common goal of world peace.
In the week following the inauguration, President Trump proved that he is a man of his word. He signed 17 executive orders with considerable pride, a handful of which attracted some public backlash. Initiating efforts to repeal Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act), though without a better replacement, won him some major points with republicans, who have been fighting it like an arch-nemesis ever since first introduced. The fact that a successful repeal would mean that millions of Americans would have no health care coverage has not been satisfactorily addressed yet. The only issues discussed with great gusto were the crowd size at the inauguration and the alleged voting fraud that won Mrs.Clinton the popular vote. Between that and demonizing the media after a controversial CNN news story involving Russia (details unmentionable, please google), one might have thought it would have bought the Trump team enough time to come up with a plausible response over queries on an Obamacare replacement, but hey, one cannot be right all the time.
Moving on to the next most popular executive order, the building of the Mexico border wall. The former real estate developer has a serious love affair with “the wall.” I have to give him points for originality as none of the other contenders seemed to have a twenty-five billion dollar cross-country wall on their agenda. As a citizen of a country with a long history of border issues with neighboring countries, lasting for almost 75 years now, I would like to empathize with President Trump’s feelings for trying to keep “the enemy” out, but it is hard to empathize when in reality, Mexico is no enemy of the United States. The United States barely has any border encroachment issues with Mexico and more importantly, illegal immigration would not necessarily change drastically with building a physical barrier at the border. Studies show that most of the illegal immigrants fly into the country and overstay their visas. Speaking of crime rates, from what I have seen on the news in the year that I have spent in the United States, most of the mass shootings or other gun related violence were not carried out by an immigrant, let alone an illegal immigrant hailing from Mexico.
Regardless, I feel that if a wall is what POTUS and his supporters want, then he should go ahead and build one as intended, but asking Mexico to foot the bill is unrealistic. On the other hand, making all the taxpayers pay for a wall indirectly when only a fraction of them want it, is not the best idea either. There are so many other ways in which the money for an estimated twenty-five billion dollar construction project can be reallocated to keep the warring political parties at ease, such as, improving the Affordable Care Act that President Trump wants to repeal.
My heart sank further when news broke about the ban on Muslim immigrants and refugees from seven Islamic countries. One can only wonder how the President can sleep at night with all the refugees fleeing terror and persecution out there knocking at his door. While this was upsetting, what brought me to tears, were the televised, nationwide peaceful protests. Men and women from all walks of life chanting, “We won’t turn back children, we won’t turn back families,” at airports and outside the White House. These protests helped me believe that all hope is not lost, hope that the internal backlash and international denouncement will weaken Trump’s stance on this particular and sensitive issue. In the meantime, I will be working to help organizations supporting refugees in troubled nations.
All in all, I feel as if the week went from comical to depressing pretty quickly. I guess this is what Samantha Bee and all other late-night show hosts had been warning us all along. This is the time to spread messages of love and support….and the leader of the free world, please guide us to light, not to a cold nuclear winter.
** Disclaimer: The views expressed in the opinion section are the views of the author and not the views of The Missouri Miner, the University, or the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri**