In the last few weeks, Trump and his administration has effectively set the United States on verge of war, signed a bill that allows states to withdraw all funding from Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics and has hired employees that are eager to adopt late 80s and early 90s policies from the war on drugs and the height of mass incarceration. Not only is Trump stirring the waters with the most non-cooperative leader in the world, he and his administration are hindering our civil liberties at home.
In light of North Korea’s consistent testing of missiles and development of nuclear weapons, the Trump administration has entertained different approaches from “strategic patience,” as Pence put it. Trump has turned to a different strategy than all past presidents: incentivizing China. China holds both economic and political influence over North Korea. China also does not want to see any military chaos in the Koreas as it would prompt an influx of refugees. However, a clear strategy is missing from the White House other than aggressive military threats. Because talks in the past with North Korea have rarely resulted in real change, Trump has tried to entertain other options. However, a military strike can result in a nuclear war. While the situation is especially complex considering the lack of cooperation, Pence and Trump still remain adamant that North Korea should not test America. This talk will only add to North Korea’s rhetoric that the U.S. is imperialistic and threatening to the point where developing these weapons is necessary to protect their sovereignty.
At home, Trump signed a bill behind closed doors that allows states to cut funding for Planned Parenthood and other clinics that perform abortions. Not only is it exhausting to consistently remind the public that federal funding is not allowed to go to abortions performed by Planned Parenthood (except in cases of rape or incest), but it is also saddening that even this did not sway Trump. He originally offered to allow funding if Planned Parenthood did not perform abortions in which the organization firmly said “no.” This type of action marginalizes lower class women who cannot afford to go to a private clinic for either abortions or regular check-ups. While campaigning, Trump stated that he would be great for women. To no one’s surprise, by signing this legislation, he, predictably, went back on his word. Denying women the right to affordable health care creates a dangerous setting where instances of coat hanger abortions are more likely to rise. The lack of sex education as well as family planning will plunge women who already live in poverty even deeper into poverty. Cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics is an act of war against women in this nation.
Trump’s administration, more specifically, his attorney general, is slowly moving toward legislation that is similar to that which contributed to mass incarceration. Jeff Sessions praised New York police officers that, “…[arrest] even people for smaller crimes—those small crimes turn into violence and death and shootings if police aren’t out there” on The Howie Carr Show. The Washington Post reported that Sessions also hired Stephen H. Cook to serve as one of his top lieutenants. The Post reported that “the two men are eager to bring back the national crime strategy of the 1980s and ‘90s form the peak of the drug war.” The drug war contributed to mass incarceration, which allowed minorities to be sentenced for long periods of time for crimes that rich whites were barely sentenced for. The consequences of mass incarceration are still felt today and have not been completely undone. Criminalizing small crimes, such as carrying small amounts of weed, fills our prisons with criminals who commit non-violent crimes, takes away fathers from families, further destabilizes inner cities and wastes money and resources on prisons across the country. While I only scratched the surface of the dangers of giving those who commit small crimes long sentences, there is enough information, including “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander, that highlights how mass incarceration further keeps minorities at the lower levels of society, available for those who disagree to read up on.
This issue, as well as overturning protections for transgender students in public schools to use which bathroom they wish, adds to the ongoing war against marginalized people. We, as citizens, cannot sit back and settle. Instead this is the time to fight back through protest and by remaining aware and vigilant of what is happening in the world. Politics are no longer a distant concept; they affect every single person around you. There is no more time to remain passive.