What to Expect from Trump’s First Hundred Days as President

The first hundred days of Donald Trump’s America will soon be upon us.

Despite the breakout protests and outrage following Donald Trump’s surprise victory at the polls, most people still aren’t sure what to expect of his administration.

Will he fulfill his promise of making America great again, or will the next four years be a cartoonish nightmare?

Why the First Hundred Days Matter

The first hundred days of any president’s administration are critical. Trump may be a strong example, but the opening act of a presidential term sets the stage for the years to follow.

Trump has to choose his cabinet, and decide what policies to make priorities. Which of his campaign promises, if any, will make it to the Oval Office? For Trump, whose election platform offered few details on policy, but was rich with “personality,” the first hundred days will be a furtive glimpse into the future.

The start of the first term is also when most presidents have their highest levels of support, and therefore, the most potential to pass parts of their campaign agenda.

For those who don’t know, the precedent for the first hundred days was set by FDR during a radio broadcast in 1933, where he outlined a plan to pass the New Deal during the hundred-day session of the 73rd Congress. The phrase quickly changed meaning, and became a label for the first hundred days of FDR’s first term in office, and later, the first term for any new president.

Crash Course has a more detailed explanation of the New Deal and FDR’s early days in office. Take a look for a quick history refresher:

FDR’s first hundred days were productive ones. If Trump can be even half as effective as FDR was, it should be clear why liberal voters are worried.

President Trump: What We Know So Far

To recap, the first standard by which all United States Presidents are judged, established during one of the most difficult periods in American history by this guy:

FDR set the precedent for the first hundred days during his first term.

 

 

 

 

 

 

…is now about to be applied to this guy:

Nervous yet?

Trump was so vague about his policies during the campaign that he really could do just about anything. All we have to go on is his recent “Contract with the American Voter,” released in late October.

It’s hard to make any real predictions on this yet, but some news outlets have made a stab at it anyway. NPR copied the whole contract into an article last week, and the San Francisco Chronicle published a similar article a few days ago.

The thing about government is that it’s not easy to summarize. For those who really want to know what Trump will do, the best information is still straight from his website, but some highlights are included below:

The Supreme Court, Social Justice, and Minority Activism

There are number of issues, such as the rights of the LGBT community, that Trump’s contract doesn’t address.

There are other issues, such as the Supreme Court and Obama’s executive orders, that it addresses thoroughly.

Justice Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court is still vacant, and three more justices are past or approaching 80 years old.  While liberal justices might decide to wait a little longer to retire, if they were to die in office, it’s likely they would be replaced by conservatives.

LGBT Americans are already concerned about what Trump’s administration will do, especially when he has a Republican Congress behind him, but if the Supreme Court becomes conservative, would it really be a stretch to see same-sex marriage get the axe?

What about America’s burgeoning police state, or movements like Black Lives Matter? How many Syrian refugees, if any, will be allowed into the country? Will President Trump get his wall, and if he does, what will happen to immigrants that are already here?

Conservatives may not always care for social issues, and they may even support the rollback of the last eight years of liberalism. Hopefully, they do not let ideology take precedent over disenfranchisement and human suffering.

Regardless of political affiliation, it would seem that for social issues, if the last eight years equaled two steps forward, the next four might equal a dozen steps back.

Term Limits

“Drain the Swamp” was a big rallying point for Trump’s campaign, aimed at reducing corruption in D.C. by limiting terms in Congress and curtailing the influence of lobbyists.

This is certainly a goal that most Americans can get behind. But it’s also hard to see Trump making much progress when his cabinet is a veritable rogue’s gallery of Washington insiders.

On paper, term limits curb corruption, since fresh people are always fed into office.

New blood could also help to pass more popular legislation. It’s easy to imagine government losing touch with people, since the average congressman is around 60, while the the median age in America is 36.

But term limits might be easier said than done. Even Trump knows that term limits would require a constitutional amendment, and members of Congress likely won’t support any bill that would force them out of a job.

If Trump somehow gets his amendment passed, it might create other problems. Members of Congress will cycle more frequently, but lobbyists wouldn’t be affected by term limits, creating a big shift in the balance of political power compared to what we have now.

But lobbyists wouldn’t be completely off the hook.

Restrictions on Foreign Lobbyists

It’s important to note that it’s already illegal for candidates in federal elections to take money from foreign donors, but not necessarily for foreign lobbyists to raise money on their behalf. Trump would eliminate this loophole.

White House officials would also be banned from lobbying for foreign governments, and would not be allowed to lobby in the United States for five years after leaving government.

The revolving door between the private sector and government is no secret. US officials with ties to foreign governments can (and should) make voters nervous, and this is still without mentioning that countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are some of the more generous contributors to the D.C. machine.

While it’s hard to pick any one reason for Hillary Clinton’s defeat, alleged ties to foreign governments were definitely a sticky point for her during the election.

Clinton may not have taken foreign money for her campaign, but she did accept it for the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state, despite President Obama’s wishes. Depending on how strictly Trump’s proposals would be enforced, gray areas like this might become more black and white.

Infrastructure and Energy

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave infrastructure in the United States a D+. The society suggests an investment of $3.6 trillion to fix this problem.

To address this, Trump has proposed the American Energy and Infrastructure Act. The act would rely on partnerships with the private sector to raise $1 trillion for infrastructure projects.

Trump has yet to specify how this proposal would work. What incentive will the private sector have to invest in public works projects? How will the government pay for their share? Where will the other $2.6 trillion needed to fix our infrastructure come from?

Will a Republican Congress really authorize funds for bridges, dams, and roads?

Maybe not. But they probably will support the Keystone pipeline and increased fossil fuel production, which Trump has also proposed.

This might help keep gas prices down, but it doesn’t bode well for the environment, or for the people who don’t want leaky pipelines in their backyard. Is the possibility of cheaper energy really worth flaming drinking water?

The Immediate Horizon is Cloudy, at Best

Trump, unlike most presidents, does not have a record of policy making and statesmanship behind him. He tends to act impulsively, and breaks with tradition often; he may not even live in the White House.

One hundred days does not a president make, one week after election day is not enough time to adequately predict the future of the entire country, and no pundit, liberal or conservative, was able to see any of this coming.

The reality of the situation is that we do not fully grasp the reality of the situation. If you’re a died-in-the-wool conservative, you probably won’t complain too much. If not, you probably won’t know what to make of anything for a while.

Until we do, we can only keep watching the news, and hope for the best.

 

Daniel Durand is a writer who like politics, but admits that it’s a lot less fun lately. He can be reached at ddurand.specialprojects@gmail.com.

Starbucks And Their Not So Festive Christmas Cup

Starbucks Christmas Cups Are Back

It’s time to wave goodbye to all the trick-or-treating and get ready for the holiday season, and what better way to get into a festive mood than by sipping a nice hot cup of Starbucks?

Last week, the coffee giant launched a new, limited-edition green cup–a design that the company said, “celebrates community”.

Starbucks green "community" cup

Apparently, not everyone wanted to join the celebration–in fact, the internet went on fire the moment coffee lovers were served their new, not-so-festive cups.

But there’s another twist! Just today, Starbucks released not one, but 13 new, red, and highly-decorated Christmas cups, complete with trees, snow, and reindeer!

The question is, if the real holiday cups were red all along, why release the green cups at all?

No Stranger To Creating A Stir

In a press release, Starbucks’ chairman and CEO, Howard Schultz, said that the cup was designed to represent the company’s connection to the community. At the time, many interpreted this as a reference to the unfolding presidential election.

The election is finally over, but it was certainly tough on Americans. Between Trump and Clinton, the insipid debates, and the constant media stream, it’s still setting in for most people that Trump actually won.

But, if the new cup really was a nod to the election insanity, was coffee really the best way to address that issue?

Consumer opinion seems divided. Many think that Starbucks has skipped their holiday duties for years, never quite able to get the cup looking festive enough. Remember the craziness when last year’s cup design launched?

The Man (and Purpose) Behind the Cups

Starbucks’ tradition of rolling out festive cups began in 1997. This year, Shogo Ota was commissioned to design the new green cup.

While some were angry that the cup was not seasonal enough, others were happy that the coffee chain tried to promote peace and unity.

But did anyone actually sit down and think, independently of a press release, that the green cup might just be a teaser, and that there was another cup on the way that would be bigger, bolder and more festive? It wasn’t long before images leaked of one of the new red cups, and Starbucks workers were shown holding a cup with holly leaves, probably in a bid to calm everyone down. Why all the fuss?

Despite the community theme, to me it looks like the green cup was connected to the presidential election. Thankfully, it didn’t show support for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, or urge coffee lovers to vote for either party. Can you imagine the fallout if that had been the case?

But I guess showing community spirit was not such a bad idea. What could be better to stop all the anger and bitterness during the election than a paper green coffee cup? Pardon the sarcasm, but world peace is not going to be created by printing calming, yet disposable cups to drink our much needed wake-up beverage from.

Also, about the festive red cup–it appears that once again, negative or positive, Starbucks has gained a whole lot of free media attention. Almost like they had that part planned all along…

War on Christmas, or Passing Drama?

Some believe Starbucks is swaying from Christmas displays because they’re afraid to offend those who don’t celebrate. They seem to display snowflakes, Santa, and other holiday symbols just fine, but people are bothered by the lack of ‘Merry Christmas,’ ‘Goodwill Tidings,’ etc.

The “War on Christmas” has been a punditry football for years. There are dozens of Daily Show bits skewering this, from Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah alike. Will the topic ever die, or will it keep coming back year after year, like some kind of holiday zombie?

So what does this say about Americans as a whole?

On the one hand, they complain about the cups not being festive enough, and have ridiculously high standards for what is and isn’t “Christmas-y”.

On the other hand, it’s just a cup. Surely, if someone is really so offended by the design, they could simply boycott Starbucks for a while. Instead, it seems that worldwide we are trapped into a complaining mode that never follows through with action.

Say you went to buy a cup of coffee and it tasted disgusting–would you return to drink the same Joe again? So, if you really, truly, are not happy with Starbucks’ attempts to tap into the festive season, and you wanted change, why not protest by simply bypassing Starbucks until they get the message?

Americans like to use the expression, “Vote with your dollar.” Well, vote!

One cannot help but feel that the message that is given to the super coffee giant is that if you are going to print out cups that we are not happy with, we will still continue to drink out of them, as we are addicted to your coffee, and despite not being happy with the packaging, we will return regardless, as the coffee is spot-on.

Boycott or Keep Sipping

 

Starbucks may seem to have gotten everything wrong in terms of pleasing the consumer, but it doesn’t seem to have negatively effected their sales.

In fact, by creating such a controversial cup each year, all they have done is promote their sales and make sure that they will be a topic of interest.

Hell knows what Starbucks has on the design board for next year’s promo. If consumers are going to complain about cups, but carry on drinking from them, perhaps next year we can look forward to blue cups, or pink cups.

I wonder if the marketing staff behind the scenes knew exactly how the world would react to this launch. Each time we complain about the cup, Starbucks receives free publicity. Each time we blog about the cup, they are taking the internet by storm!

Starbucks CEO, take note–perhaps it’s time to listen to the needs of Christian coffee drinkers, or you may lose them to one of your many coffee competitors! Perhaps it’s time to stand together and bypass the chain once and for all, to call for a full-blown Merry Christmas and Santa picture, to stand in the streets with our Christmas red banner held high!

Or we can just be quiet, and enjoy our decaf soy mocha frappe lattes.

So You Elected Donald Trump for President

by Daniel J. Durand

Good morning, America; sleep well? I would like to take a moment to briefly talk about what happened last night.

Last night, on November 8th, 2016, we, the American people chose Donald Trump as our new president.

To those of you who voted for him, congratulations! You did it! To everyone else… sorry. I’m so sorry. The following is an open letter, which I’m going to break down into parts in order to better address each of the major groups I see in play right now. Here goes:

The Democratic Party

You guys really blew this one, you know?

At best, before the election, you controlled maybe eight states–now you have nothing.

You threw all your eggs in the Hillary basket, kicked Bernie and the Millenials to the curb, ignored the problems facing organized labor, African-Americans, the LGBT community, and everyone else, all somehow in hopes of getting Hillary to the White House. Don’t believe me? Look at the early exit polling–you guys lost everyone you claim to represent, and by a scary margin.

The party structure is now drained of resources, and Democrats are fractured into those who supported the establishment and those who supported a Bernie-style movement. The party is now meaningless outside of the northeast and the west coast, where strongholds still remain.

In short, you guys done fucked up proper, and now you have a lot of work to do.

The Republican Party

You guys are asssholes, but you won this round despite that. Kudos! I still hate your guts, but mad props for pulling it off.

Politically, I will never agree with Republicans, and I doubt many liberal voters will, either–but we all understand how dangerous Trump’s presidency could be, and if The Donald goes nuclear, Republicans and Democrats have to be ready to work together

Try not to get us into another war, okay? If Trump turns out to be the nightmare president we are all afraid of, you, the Republicans, are the only group capable of stopping him. .

Hillary Clinton

There is no way you don’t have this coming. Now, suck it up, and put your incredible political machine to work alongside Bernie Sanders’ movement.

You weren’t the right candidate to go up against Trump, and it cost America. Voters made themselves clear last night that we don’t trust you, we don’t like you–but you still have the DNC at your fingertips, you still won the nomination and made it this far, and you still have serious clout.

Don’t retreat. Keep moving forward for progress, for the Democratic party, and most of all, for Bernie Sanders and the movement he started.

You are never going to rule the land–you can, however, be a key to power for the next generation of liberals. I know you don’t play second fiddle well, but for the sake of the progressive future we could have had, that we should have had, you have to try.

Donald Trump

Because of you, I woke up this morning and realized that I am living in the plot of a bad 80s action movie. You have no clear policies, no plan, just a bunch of hopeless conservative platitudes and a boorish personality.

And yet, you won.

So, Mr. Trump, do the country a huge solid, and surprise us. Earn the office you’ve somehow taken. Prove your opponents wrong, stand for the future America needs and not the apocalypse that we expect you to usher in. Rise above the petty.

Don’t fuck this up.

The Voters

Okay, you guys are the group that matters most. Whoever you voted for individually, I doubt anyone who voted last night is happy with where the country is right now. Those feelings probably spurred you to vote in the first place, and guided you to the candidate you ultimately chose.

But regardless of whether your candidate of choice won, there is something very important that voters need to remember: the fight did not end at the ballot box.

Healthcare still sucks. Education still sucks. We’re still bombing or at war with seven countries. Our government is still spying on us. Money still has too much influence in politics. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, times a million, ad infinitum.

If you believe that your vote every four years is all it takes to fix these problems, then you are a fool.

We are the tired, the poor, the huddled masses. We are the people. We are the masters of our own fates. We will not solve our problems with one election, but we should also not let our problems hold us back.

Take a moment to relax and recuperate. As a country, we need a breather. But then, get ready for the next round of elections–local, state, midterm, whatever. Do volunteer work. Write to Congress. Look for ways to better yourselves and to help those around you.

No matter what side you were on before, now, more than any other time, we need to be in this together.

We made ourselves sick with insanity over the last 18 months. Now, let’s make ourselves sick pushing forward, working to fix the problems that led to this terrible, awful election cycle in the first place.

Hell, let’s even start a hashtag, and stick it on everything: #progressisours, until we think of something catchier.

Own your country. Own your fate. Own your passions. Don’t wait for the White House to solve your problems; it’s time we banded together as an electorate, and took care of ourselves.

End of rant. Have a nice day, everyone.

Daniel Durand is a Boise-based writer who wants a stiff drink and a vacation. He can be reached at ddurand.specialprojects@gmail.com