I was reluctant to attend the Trump inauguration.
We had made plans to go with family members after Donald Trump won the 2016 election. In between November and January though, I began to have serious doubts. There was the disavowal of the Alt-Right on November 22. There was the underwhelming Cabinet picks. There was all the fighting with the Alt-Lite. There was the Paul Ryan policy agenda which was coming into view.
It was only that news cycle in which Trump exchanged harsh words with “civil rights icon” John Lewis which persuaded me to go to the inauguration. We had already made travel plans. It seemed reasonable to give Donald Trump a fair chance. In spite of my concerns, I wasn’t ready to write him off before he took the oath of office. I decided to keep an open mind and give him the traditional first 100 days.
We didn’t get through the first 100 days before Syria happened. As far as I am concerned, that was the major inflection point. There had been the Deploraball controversy, the Ryancare debacle and all the setbacks with the executive orders in the courts. More than anything else, it was those airstrikes which deflated my interest in the Trump administration. I can trace the arc of my posts as my interest in politics fizzled through March and my attention began to wander back to history.
Thankfully, we never went to war in Syria and have negotiated yet another ceasefire. The Supreme Court has since let the travel ban go into effect until it rules in the fall. The House of Representatives has passed Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act. Neil Gorsuch was appointed to the Supreme Court. There has been a sharp drop in illegal immigration on the Mexican border. ISIS is on the verge of being defeated in the Middle East. The stock market is doing great.
Still though, the old excitement about the Trump administration never returned after the Syria airstrikes. It was around that time that Gary Cohn, Jared Kushner and Ivanka became the dominant force in the West Wing. Steve Bannon was publicly humiliated and sent to the dog house. The focus shifted to moving forward on the Paul Ryan agenda of healthcare, tax cuts and deregulation. The Wall wasn’t funded and Trump flip flopped on several other issues. This was capped off by what seemed like a half dozen condemnations of the Holocaust and vows to fight anti-Semitism.
As we approach the six months mark, I can’t get over my disillusionment. Broadly speaking, there hasn’t been much in the way of real change. The Alt-Lite was empowered and homosexuality was mainstreamed, but the same taboos which were holding back our community two years ago have been preserved. There hasn’t been any big change in our foreign policy, our trade policy or our immigration policy. There are no big legislative accomplishments. The massive cultural and economic problems which Trump highlighted during the campaign haven’t been addressed with anything except the same conventional solutions. It feels like the same people who were repudiated in the election are still in power.
“America First” seemed to promise more … than this. Maybe I am just not not seeing all the great transformative things that Trump has been doing to Make America Great Again. It looks to me like we are muddling through. I don’t see it turning around at this point either.