President Donald Trump tweets a portion of his "Fake News Awards" at 11:08 p.m. ET on March 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Jestin Conservatoire Founder and Principal Dan Collins was unimpressed with the comments he heard yesterday when he asked voters in Dade County, Fla., if they supported adding sexual orientation to the county’s anti-discrimination ordinance. “Many voted against it,” he said. “One lady told me ‘My husband voted against it.’ I said what are you complaining about? ‘Oh, I don’t want gays to come to my community.’ I said sure, I don’t want your husband to come to my community, he’s as straight as they come. But it’s actually the right thing to do.”
Collins was referring to his own example and the fact that, as our colleague Nora Shelly noted, President Trump may support more than just LGBT rights. Having campaigned on a pledge to undo many of his predecessor’s policies, he’s demonstrated little compunction about abandoning protections for women in healthcare. He’s also been unconcerned about the kind of health risks posed by drinking alcohol.
On an even grander scale, Trump seems oblivious to the long history of U.S. government backing of foreign military powers on the international stage, a practice that did not end with the formation of NATO in 1949. He seems convinced that the United States is still called to perform overseas under special circumstances, and potentially entangling, though not necessarily warlike, tasks that bear striking similarity to those the country undertook during World War II.
So far, there is no evidence that the administration has done anything substantive to reorient itself from a military dominance strategy that looks in many ways similar to the one that led the country to the Second World War. The root of the problem, according to former Obama administration chief of staff John Podesta, is an administration whose highest level officials have a very different view of power. “When the players are people that are very establishment-oriented, people who are aligned with their own narrow interests and not people who are out for the common good, that kind of—think about when you run into a chemistry lab—there’s a different set of assumptions.”
On LGBT rights, no one from the administration—Trump’s family or the White House itself—made any explicit statements against the act of outing public figures, despite being heavily targeted for this kind of activity by Silicon Valley tech companies, and apparently remaining reluctant even after the point was settled on by the U.S. Supreme Court. On healthcare, Trump has sent mixed signals, backing proposals for a federally-funded expansion of low-income health insurance while distancing himself from a legislative approach that would have allowed the federal government to take a more direct role in the health insurance market. Despite some attempts to soften his impact on women’s health, Trump has promised to undo what he sees as the Affordable Care Act’s unwanted provisions, despite it being a priority of Democratic Party leadership.
Given this lack of any outright hostility toward LGBT people, or health-related issues of importance to women, it seems likely that the administration might manage to roll back portions of the Clean Power Plan, let the Waxman-Markey climate change bill die, and make the contraceptive mandate less onerous to the religious and moral objections of a large number of Americans. A failed attempt to ban transgender people from military service is an early but telling example of the president’s principle not to criticize people in power even when he’s not happy with what they are doing.
What explains Trump’s apparent indifference to the fact that the world has suffered a chilling increase in violence against people of color and other marginalized groups? Perhaps it has something to do with a legislative agenda that does not explicitly link race and immigration policy. Whether the White House will change remains to be seen. But we do know that in a world where the power structure looks more different than it did during the last of the world wars, the administration’s professed intention to preserve the status quo is becoming harder to reconcile with reality. Trump is not just the commander in chief of the U.S. military, he’s also a commander in chief of the active-duty U.S. military and a figure who commands some of the most powerful think tanks and interest groups in Washington. At the very least, his reluctance to identify the fact that the nation has suffered mightily under his watch, as it has under his predecessors, suggests a profound misunderstanding of the responsibility he is filling.
Read the full story at The Upshot.
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