Donald Trump’s inauguration as the President of the United States of America has generated waves of fear and turmoil across the world, especially among women, people of colour and the LGBTQ+ community. The Women’s March across the world the day after was a proclamation of solidarity that exists among us and our will to stand together in such times of crisis. To maintain and further solidify these bonds, it is important to envision the future political possibilities and to understand their positive and negative consequences for our peers. For the same, it is necessary to explore how strong Trump’s own perspectives have been and what could their result be when placed in conjunction with his major political agendas and influential right-wing politicians working with him.
Anti-immigrant, misogynistic, racist etc. have become synonymous with the figure of Trump. His policies, intentions and opinions about issues of gender and race are moulded thoroughly in favour of his materialistic/capitalist political agenda to ‘make America wealthy again.’ His very first action as the President was to rescind the abortion policy, which aided NGOs with government funding. This deed will have far-reaching consequences as it will drastically increase the number of unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and maternal deaths, according to the Marie Stopes International charity. While his supporting colleagues are claiming this as a demonstration of ‘pro-life’ stance on the issue, many of them have cited one of the major causes of the decision being that ‘no taxpayer [would] be forced to pay for it.’ This is a clear illustration of Trump’s agendas being dominated by monetary concerns, where issues of gender, race and human rights are being relegated.
Prior to becoming the President, Trump was, at multiple instances, interviewed about his views on same-sex marriage and has repeatedly expressed himself as being a ‘traditionalist,’ which means that he does not support the law on marriage equality. However, Trump has presented his views differently every time. He has sometimes aggressively criticised the law legalising on same-sex marriage, and at other times he has ridiculously trivialised the issue by comparing his opposition to his dislike of ‘really long putters’ in golf. He also briefly claimed to be ‘evolving’ but remained strong on this standpoint. While his stance on the issue in itself very worrying for the LGBTQ+ community, it is even more alarming to have a President whose opinions on issues of gender and sexuality are inconsistent and their lives are commodified in his ‘considerations’ for the American economy.
Being the President, the Executive Power that Trump holds may bring a dramatic reversal in the lives of women and LGBTQ+, after the progressive laws that had been put into action by the previous President, Barack Obama. The Executive Power gives Trump the entire authority to reverse and rescind the laws put into place by the previous President, without the consultation of congress and also make nominations to fill in the positions at White House. This is an extremely precarious phase for the American people since the politicians who would be working with Trump, specifically anti-LGBTQ+ supporters like Vice-President Mike Pence, will prove very influential on the President’s decisions on issues that he is indecisive about. The reversal of the abortion policy was the proof of this influence as the policy runs in concordance with Pence’s earlier campaigns in 2000s. Pence led multiple campaigns to oppose laws that stopped discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and proposed diverting taxpayer funds to ‘those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour,’ possibly referring to gay conversion therapy treatments, rather than investing them in institutions that provided support and care for people susceptible to HIV/Aids.
Pence’s own position, and the other conservative politicians working in direct contact with the President, can prove very influential in shaping his decisions to revoke policies supporting LGBTQ+ and women’s rights. With the power and authority of the Executive Order, this manipulation would prove to be a sudden collapse of the democracy that was slowly developing towards a general acceptance and recognition of these communities and their rights.
In his attempt to unify Americans (as stated in his inaugural speech), Trump’s presidency has divided America almost as much as it was during the Civil War. The crowds of people at the Women’s March verses the huge number who voted for Trump in the first place epitomises the massive disjuncture that currently exists in America. It is, consequently, imperative to understand, empathise and sincerely extend a hand to our peers in America and stand together in these troubled times.