Well, we’re a month in to the Trump presidency, and as of print the country is still here, so things are going better than I expected. Things are still bad, of course. But that’s to be expected when we put a fragile narcissist with no experience in charge of the federal government. From his cabinet to his executive orders to his attacks on the press, the first month of Trump’s presidency has been an almost unmitigated disaster. And it’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.
I have to hand it to Mr. Trump, he started ruining everyone’s expectations before he even assumed office. The cabinet he chose was even worse than I imagined it would be, with a Secretary of Education who doesn’t believe in public schools, an EPA director who doesn’t believe in climate change and a Secretary of Energy who previously stated he wanted to abolish the Department of Energy.
As a general rule, we should all want people who are competent to run the cabinet departments. Republicans and Democrats alike should be horrified that we put Betsy DeVos in charge of the Department of Education when her only accomplishment was donating to Trump’s campaign. A climate change denier is scary even if you are skeptical about the overwhelming scientific evidence. I mean, what if you’re actually wrong and we need someone who heeds the advice of scientists and cares about the environment? Oh, and remember when some of you were mad because you thought Hillary Clinton was in Wall Street’s pocket? Well, Trump saved us by putting all the billionaires who definitely care about the interests of the working class in the Cabinet where he could keep a close eye on them. That way they won’t make any trouble.
Trump’s Muslim ban has been a disaster since day one. First, because no one from the countries he addressed has ever actually attacked the United States. Second, because he upended the lives of innocent people (including student, doctors and U.S. citizens with families abroad) for no logical reason. Then, when the ban was blocked, Trump responded by attacking federal judges and questioning the legitimacy of the judiciary.
Now feels like a good time to point out that President Obama never verbally (or Twitterly) attacked people just because they disagreed with him, and that’s a good rule of thumb. If you’re the President, you should be capable of resisting the urge to tweet insults at people constantly. And if you’re going to insult people, pick ones that no one likes. If you’re going after Meryl Streep, no one’s going to think you’re cool.
While there is a long list of concerns over the conduct of this administration, perhaps the most frightening is their attacks on the free press. Even some in Trump’s own party, such as John McCain, have pointed out that attacking the media is the first thing dictators do. Assailing news outlets that disagree with or criticize Trump as “fake news" could have incredibly disastrous effects on our democratic way of life.
When receiving news from the media, it is important to be skeptical and verify the claims that are made. But to dismiss entire outlets altogether as fake news goes way further than healthy skepticism. If these attacks continue, we could end up with about 30-40 percent of the population believing whatever the President tells them. Seeing as Trump constantly lies (that’s not my liberal bias—it’s a pretty well-established fact) a very large segment of the population could be completely misinformed and living in a reality bubble worse than any liberal college campus.
Thankfully, a majority disapprove of Trump, so I think it’s unlikely to see his attacks on the media actually translate into an environment where those who disagree with him are punished. But the attacks are concerning nonetheless, especially because in many cases they are unwarranted. Please don’t hate the press. Even if we’re arguing for opinions you disagree with, the collective work we do is vital for maintaining our democracy as we know it.
Jacob Kowalski is a weekly columnist to The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.