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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.

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

What’s On? Star Trek: Beyond

By Daniel J. Durand

Beyond average. That may sound unexciting, but let me explain.

The rebooted Abrams universe left a lot to be desired for Trekkies who fell in love with the main timeline of the series, and it’s hard for any individual film to stand up to the decades of TV and movies that made up the Trek legacy.

The first of the reboot films was, in my opinion, awful—lens flare and explosions do not a Star Trek movie make. Into Darkness wasn’t much better, essentially a mutated remake of Wrath of Khan, despite promises to the contrary made by Abrams early in production.

The latest iteration of the Star Trek franchise had a lot to make up for. As it stands, while Star Trek: Beyond had some quirks, but I am happy to say that it went far beyond my expectations, and was a solidly good movie.

What Sparked?

First the good news: this movie was not cheesy, nor did it focus on weird romantic tensions or explosions like Star Trek 2009, and character development took on a much more prominent role in Beyond than it did in the previous films.

With the Enterprise crew now three years into their five-year exploratory mission, Kirk is beginning to feel disconnected by the isolation of deep space—there is little structure being so far away from civilization, every day feels the same, and it’s hard to stay grounded.

As he celebrates his birthday, Kirk realizes that he has now outlived his father. Having built his career around living up to his father’s Starfleet reputation, he now must set a reputation of his own. Kirk applies for a promotion to vice admiral, and recommends Spock be promoted to captain of the Enterprise.

Spock, meanwhile, has his own struggles. Since the destruction of his home planet Vulcan, and with the remainder of his people scattered across the galaxy, Spock feels that he owes a reproductive duty to his specie, and breaks off his relationship with Uhura.

Not long after his breakup, Spock is met by two Vulcans, who inform him that his counterpart Ambassador Spock (Leanord Nemoy from the original Star Trek continuity) has died. Spock now must choose between his life in Starfleet, or his sense of obligation to fill in the void left by Ambassador Spock’s passing.

We see Spock’s feelings come out a couple of times in the movie: when he tries to talk to Kirk about his decision to leave Starfleet, but can’t find an appropriate time; and during a conversation with McCoy, when Spock says he intended to reconcile with Uhura. Spock has come a long way since the up-tight, conflicted young man prone to weird emotional outbursts seen in the first movie, and it shows.

Even some of the lesser bridge crew members get some much-needed attention—McCoy gets in on the action during a chase scene toward the end of the movie, and has a few good one-liners, and Scotty shows off his famous charm when we see him casually enjoying a cup of tea, purposefully looking the other way while his engineers bang on equipment in a manner that has to violate Starfleet regulations. Sulu has a daughter, and Chekov, we discover, is a fan of Scotch, much to the surprise of his shipmates.

Granted, some of the developments or one-liners are tongue-in-cheek references to the original series, but what’s important to note is that for the first time, it doesn’t feel like the cast of reboot-Trek is trying to emulate Trek Original Recipe—instead, they’re standing on their own.

At the same time, we do see a lot of nods to the original timeline left behind by Old Spock’s travel to the past in Star Trek 2009. As a long-time Trekkie, it was really nice to see the history of this newer timeline tied back to the old one—without giving too much away, I was ecstatic when the crew finds an old NX-class starship, complete with archive footage of the previous crew in their Enterprise-era uniforms. Props go to Simon Pegg—he spent hours going over Star Trek fan pages and talking with Trekkies online when he wrote the script, trying to tie the movie in with established continuity and lore as much as possible.

While the previous paragraph may not mean much to newer fans, it was refreshing to see the franchise reaching out to older fans again—a lot of us felt like the unwanted step-child back in 2009, and Abrams was kind of a jerk in interviews when talking about the old show and wanting to cut the old guard out in favor of a newer, edgier Trek.

What Sputtered?

While I praised character development before, the flatness of other characters stood out.

Uhura misses out on the treatment her fellow officers receive, and doesn’t really add much to the story other than a plot point for Spock’s arc. In fact, she acts a lot more like Princess Leia than a Starfleet officer, spouting platitudes like “Unity is strength!” to the main villain, Krall, and insisting that her captain will rescue her.

Even Krall and his allies are pretty much a blank slate until the last 20 minutes or so of the movie. All we know about them is that they’re aliens, and for some reason they hate the Federation enough to kill a lot of people.

When a movie withholds details about the plot or characters to build suspense, it can keep the audience hooked, looking for any clues they can find and wanting more. Not so in Beyond, where at each point details may reside… we simply don’t get them, and the scene cuts away.

Which brings me to another problem with the movie—it feels rushed. Not the whole movie, but the first 20 minutes at least, which have us jump settings three or four times, and again at later points where it would have been nice to have had a split second longer to enjoy the scenery.

Case in point: when the crew docks at Yorktown, a massive new starbase packed with skyscrapers and a giant, spiraling city-scape, we get only a brief pan shot that moves too quickly to make out any detail, and when Yorktown first appears on the main viewscreen of the bridge, the camera pans from Kirk exiting the elevator, to the viewscreen, and then straight back around to the bridge in one unbroken movement. We see the characters visibly reacting to how awesome the artificial planet in front of them is, but we barely get to see it ourselves!

There was probably more here that was cut for time, but I felt like I was watching the movie at 150 percent speed, and that speed increase also took away from some of the realism of the computerized graphics.

In fact, the computer graphics failed to impress in more than one instance—space battles looked a lot more like the Star Wars prequels than Trek film, since hardly any seemed to have been made with practical effects or models. As for aliens, while there were many played by actors in full costume and makeup, the realism of those aliens sharply contrasted with the ones who were put in with green screen.

Enterprise and Deep Space 9, two series that pioneered a lot of the digital effects used in the franchise back in the 90s and early 2000s, did a much better job of blending digital and practical effects, and it was sad to see that go when Beyond had so much more money to work with than either series.

Parting Thoughts:

While there were a few quirks this time around, Star Trek: Beyond does a lot more to reconcile between old and new fans, while simultaneously developing its main cast enough to truly stand on its own.

Also, to be fair, I have to say that even the original series took a while before it gained its space-legs, and in a lot of ways, the franchise didn’t really start to pop until Wrath of Khan was released.

The Abrams universe had a lot to prove, and while it still hasn’t completely won me over, it came surprisingly close with this installment—Beyond is to new Trek as Wrath was to old Trek, and I’m actually excited to see where the franchise will go from here, especially with a new TV series on the way.

I give Star Trek: Beyond a B-plus. Points are lost for the weird scene-jumping and pushing so many character details to the final reel, but overall, there was clearly a lot of effort put into getting this one right, and it’s a good movie that I wouldn’t mind seeing again.

 

Daniel Durand wants to cosplay a Starfleet captain. Ask him for details at ddurand.specialprojects@gmail.com