I HAVE been visiting the US for the past three weeks. They are in a new place with the advent of the Trump presidency. Some high-profile firings have hogged the news for weeks. Not just the dismissal of the FBI Director James Comey, but before that of the Acting Attorney General, a holdover from the previous Obama administration, after she opposed the ban on travelers from certain Muslim countries. And even before this, the firing of Preet Bharara, the District Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who has been successfully prosecuting Wall Street fraudsters. In the State Department, there has been an exodus of prominent officials, either on their own or after being prodded to do so. In a way, it is to be expected as this administration change is truly a seismic one for the polarized situation that the country finds itself in after the 2016 elections.
Talk show personalities keep finding issues to fume about and President Trump keeps providing them with such. His Twitter tweets are famously combative and misspelled, though the latter comes with the territory as one’s fingers can’t quite convey one’s thoughts grammatically. Example: one tweet came up with the mysterious term “covfefe,” or something like that, which in the context I would have guessed to mean “coverage” as the media was the subject of his comment. But until now the media is making a fuss.
So, it is small things and big things, like the recent withdrawal from the Paris climate change pact, the dismissal of European Union concerns, the upending of the Obamacare law and an investigation into how the Russians had interfered with the US election.
Meanwhile, some matters remain the same—what to do with the upsurge of violence in Afghanistan, how to continue in Iraq, what to do with the Syrian civil war. These are all issues of the past that the present President has to make decisions about. In the polarized climate, mostly seen to be instigated by him, he is challenged to get a consensus from the general public.
Meanwhile, North Korea keeps shooting off missiles, US air patrols over the South China Sea (Western Philippine Sea in part) keep meeting dangerous Chinese confrontations.
Than again, there is always the threat of homegrown terrorism or hate crimes that some commentators trace to the climate of polarization that has palpably been seen and felt. It is in the air—radio and television—, in broadsheets and magazines, in reactions expressed by ordinary people that verge on the violent. Hate crimes are becoming prominent and tragic.
There are many reactions to the above situations. California has decided to stick with its climate change commitments and regulations and even go further. It has unilaterally decided to not leave the Paris climate change agreement and has reached out to Canada and Mexico to keep going with it in North America. It is also one of the states that has declared itself a sanctuary for migrants on the run from the new administration’s anti-immigrant policy. Meanwhile, successful lawsuits have managed to reverse anti-immigrant travel restrictions.
On the political side, the Democratic Party after its shock defeat in many states in both the governorship and the legislature is girding for battle. They will concentrate on health care as the signature issue and refine the original Obamacare law and push for its passing. This will be a key issue in the 2018 mid=term elections here. The Democrats are girding for battle with organizational meetings, policy discussions as well as media attention for what they have in mind and what they want voters to know and support.
All of the above, what has happened, what is happening and what can happen, will be polarizing in this country that is considered a world leader and influence on other nations. Unless both sides realize that with the threats to world peace, world environmental well-being, a necessity for diplomacy and open-mindedness is accepted, a unity that can be vital and essential for the good of all will not happen.
America First has to expand to a Universe for All in this one and only planet of ours.