BY STATE SENATOR JAMES SANDERS, JR.
Welcome to 2018. The beginning of a new year is a time for celebration, rebirth and a chance to make resolutions that promise positive changes in our life. However, even though the year has changed, the president has not. Trump is still in office. He made so many mistakes in 2017, one can only hope that there is no possibility of it getting any worse.
Let’s review some of President Trump’s bungling over the past year.
Most recently, President Trump favored the elimination of net neutrality, the basic idea that all internet data should be treated equally. Net Neutrality is essential to protecting the First Amendment and prevents Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from charging different websites higher or lower rates based on whom they like or dislike.
On the international front, President Trump sparked outrage across the Middle East and the rest of the world by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city. This hurt America by preventing it from being a free agent and an honest broker. I favor a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Trump also managed to cause trouble in the UK as he re-tweeted anti-Muslim videos by a right-wing group called Britain First, raising the ire of Ministers of Parliament, some of whom called Trump “racist,” “fascist” and “evil.” One even suggested: “Wouldn’t the world be a better place if the Prime Minister could persuade the President of the United States to delete his Twitter account?”
And how could we talk about International blunders without mentioning North Korea and Russia. An NBC report revealed that Trump said during a meeting at the Pentagon in July, that he wanted to increase the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile tenfold, bringing it back to its high point of 32,000 weapons during the 1960s in the midst of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Trump also called the country’s dictator Kim Jong-un, “rocket man,” and labeled North Korea “a band of criminals.”
There is a continuing investigation by special counsel Bob Mueller to determine what role Russia played in influencing the 2016 presidential election and whether members of Trump’s administration were involved. Most recently, former Security Advisor Michael Flynn agreed to cooperate in the Russia probe. Some people are speculating that 2018 will be the year Trump gets impeached. If that were to happen, he would join the likes of Andrew Johnson (1868) and William Jefferson Clinton in (1998).
Now, let’s move onto immigration. First there was the Muslim ban which prohibited people from seven majority Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – from entering the United States for 90 days and suspended entry for all refugees for 120 days. Then Trump killed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which had kept nearly 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants, brought to the US as children from being deported. He has also hurt about 60,000 Haitian refugees by scheduling to end their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in July 2019. This allows people to stay in this country if they have fled their homeland due to war, genocide or natural disaster. It also authorizes them to work.
Finally, as a proud Marine Corps veteran, I would be remiss if I did not mention the case of LaDavid Johnson, a green beret killed in an ambush in West Africa on Oct. 4. Trump waited to call and offer condolences to the soldier’s widow and when he did, he allegedly told her – “he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.” If this is true, it makes Trump seem all the more incapable of feeling human emotion for those who make the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
In closing, I would like to say that even though 2017 was a terrible presidential year for Trump, I still remain cautiously optimistic that things can get better in 2018. We must work together as a community both on the local level, here in Queens, with our elected officials, and on the national level, by making our voices so loud that even Trump will hear us.