New Year’s is the time for resolutions. After a tumultuous political year, which exposed a bitterly divided electorate, the resolutions embraced by President-elect Donald Trump likely will determine our short-term political climate. Will it be relatively peaceful, or will volatility persist?
The most welcome pledge Trump made this year was in his victory speech on Nov. 9, when he promised to be president for all Americans and asked citizens to work together to unify the nation.
Is that resolution at the top of Trump’s list? If it is, certain campaign promises he made are non-starters. For one, immigration is one of our most incendiary issues, and Trump’s most popular campaign applause line was his promise to build a wall along the Mexican border.
But in a national video address on Nov. 22, outlining plans for his first 100 days in office, he made no mention of a wall. (He also did not mention repealing Obamacare, although the GOP-controlled Congress has other plans, unfortunately.) Other Republicans have recently emphasized the increased use of technology, including drones, to detect and help detain illegal border crossers, rather than bricks and mortar — a more realistic, less polarizing option.
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Still, Trump has also promised to deport 2 million to 3 million people he identifies as criminal aliens. But President Obama got there first. From 2009 through 2015, he oversaw the deportation of some 2.5 million people, focusing on those who committed felonies or who were recent border violators.
Is Trump resolved to follow that policy, or will he disrupt the lives of people who have lived and worked here peacefully for years? He has also promised to reverse Obama’s executive order establishing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows illegal immigrants brought here as children, raised and educated in the United States, temporary protection from deportation, a misguided move if there ever was one.
Another hot issue will be the environment. Will Trump remove restrictions on coal-burning power plants implemented by Obama, as he promised coal miners? Trump has also pledged to cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate-change programs. Environmental activists can be expected to protest any retreat in the battle against climate change.
Of late, the Justice Department has addressed the problem of racial prejudice in law enforcement. Trump’s nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to serve as attorney general is worrisome given allegations of racist beliefs against him. What has Trump resolved regarding reform? Americans should all be watching with unease.
Issues Trump has said will get immediate attention include many that are extremely important, but less volatile. He has pledged to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and to spend many billions of dollars rebuilding infrastructure, all to protect and create jobs. He wants tax cuts, increased military spending, to unravel many of Dodd-Frank’s banking regulations and to forge closer ties with President Vladimir Putin’s Russia, just, and rightly, sanctioned by Obama.
Trump also wants to create more impediments to former elected officials becoming lobbyists. He’s got a good point here — plus, not too many Americans will take to the streets to protect lobbyists.