Digg: What to read about Trump's first year in office
Just three to seven more years
January 20th, 2018 marks the first birthday of President Donald Trump's presidency. It's been a very strange year , and you're probably trying to make sense of it. To help, here are six of the sharpest essays we've read on Trump's first 365 days in office, covering his policy pursuits, his racism, his erosion of political norms and more.
Jonathan Chait, revisiting the grandiose promises Trump made to the nation a year ago, concludes that Trump's policy pursuits have borne zero resemblance to his inaugural vow to "bring back our dreams."
The elegant simplicities of campaign rhetoric — or, in Trump's case, the brutal simplicities — never align with the ugly and complex reality of governing. But Trump's presidency has presented an especially jarring contrast, since the rhetoric has borne no relation whatsoever to what followed. It's not that he overpromised but that his promises were fundamentally a con. He and his loyalists possessed not the faintest idea how to address the crises he identified, not even a theory that could lead to a detailed response. Trump's program has instead defaulted to the preexisting desires of his party's ideological and funding base, resulting in a regulatory and tax agenda virtually — and in some cases literally — dictated by the business lobby.
[ New York ]
The Marshall Project's Justin George enumerates nine ways Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have changed the criminal justice landscape, from reviving the War on Drugs to abandoning police reform efforts:
Police reform, at least the federal enthusiasm for it, died a sudden death in 2017. The Department of Justice has shown no interest in continuing to seek consent decrees or court orders requiring police departments that have been found to have violated civil rights to reform their practices. A voluntary process known as collaborative reform, where police departments could seek the Justice Department's expertise to improve its relations and performance with communities, was killed off.
Instead, Sessions has pledged his unwavering support for law enforcement, and in speeches has blamed "divisive rhetoric," meaning the protests of groups such as Black Lives Matter, for violence against law officers.
Slate's Jamelle Bouie, who has written extensively about American racism both before and after the election, takes stock of the ways that Trump has strengthened the White Nationalist cause.
More than anything else, the first year of the Trump administration has been marked by a steady attack on the equal status of racial and religious minorities. This attack grows out of an American tradition of exclusion, one that is reasserting itself in the face of an increasingly multiracial society that — at least on paper — extends the rights and privileges of democratic participation to all citizens...
This effort has been the administration's greatest success to date and may well be its most lasting accomplishment. Trump's rhetoric sends the clear message that America does not welcome nonwhites, and his immigration crackdown brings real fear to black and brown communities across the country. His tax policies don't just widen income inequality, they entrench our deep racial inequality too, heightening the zero-sum thinking — their gain is my loss — that makes closing those gaps difficult and politically costly. His court picks may allow Republican politicians — who rely almost exclusively on white voters to win elections — to disenfranchise black and Latino voters through gerrymandering, vote dilution, and outright voter suppression.
[ Slate ]
The New Yorker's Jelani Cobb tries to make sense of Trump's dizzying array of scandals and missteps, and to evaluate whether anyone seems to have learned anything from them.
The outset of this era was met by urgent demands that Trump and his excesses not be "normalized." His defenders dismissed this concern as so much liberal hysteria, and tried to retrofit him into the political styles of various predecessors. Over the course of the year, we've split the difference. The bleating alarms and the blinking indicators of danger persist; we have not mistaken this for normalcy. Yet the sheer scale of Trump's offenses has made these irregularities almost ambient. (Our eyes may have adjusted to the dark, but we don't confuse it with daylight.) ...
The most damning statement that can be made in this regard is that every failure, unwarranted indulgence, attack, calamity, and corrosion could occur again, and in the same way, without a scintilla of gleaned wisdom weighing on Trump's conscience — or on the conscience of the Republican Party, which has largely abetted him in his efforts. If the purpose of history is to provide an instructive understanding of the patterns that inform the present, then this Administration is not simply ahistorical, it is anti-historical — a "Groundhog Day" version of national affairs.
[ The New Yorker ]
"But maybe he's the prequel to one," the introduction to Harry Cheadle's analysis continues. Cheadle suggests that Trump's unpopularity and incompetence have thwarted his autocratic impulses, but that he's opened the door to a number of terrifying possibilities for the future.
Even if the wonks are right that Trump won't usher in autocracy and that the Democrats will seize enough power to block his worst impulses, he's exposed horrific flaws in the US system. The executive branch has grown in power so much that the president is only really limited by the courts, with Congress often relegated to a bystander role. Party loyalty is more important to most politicians than any principle. Often, what prevents the president from being corrupt is not laws but norms — and maybe voters don't really care about norms.
Most of all though, what Trump reveals is that contemporary America is incredibly vulnerable to demagoguery. Trump did not hide his racist or authoritarian impulses — he campaigned on them, and a lot of Americans (if not the majority) embraced him. Someone else could ride those same currents to the White House. The next president could hide their tax returns, or only grant interviews to sycophantic media outlets, or spread disinformation, or work to financially reward their friends. Why not, if Trump has proven that the consequences of those actions are easily avoidable?
[ Vice ]
Just because most of these reviews of Trump's first year are unbearably bleak, here's a slightly more upbeat one. HuffPost's Eliot Nelson revisits some of Trump's best moments, such as the orb photo and "covfefe."
Peace is the greatest gift a leader can bestow on a nation, and though the United States remained embroiled in a number of conflicts this last year, Americans were treated to a different kind of harmony on Thursday, June 8: President Trump didn't tweet.
That's right: for 2,753 glorious minutes starting early Wednesday, June 7, and ending early Friday, June 9, the president summoned a level of self-restraint that, frankly, none of us thought he possessed. If you happened to see an unusually large number of woodland creatures emerging into forest clearings that day, or if your urge to stockpile beans inexplicably subsided, now you know why.
[ HuffPost ]
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Editor's Note: This commentary was originally published by Digg, on January 19 , 2017. Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Petroleumworld and its owners.
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