By Duvalier Malone
In America, we the people truly do choose our leaders. Through our democratic process, Donald Trump was chosen by the people to be our President. It was a moment of pride to watch former President Obama exude grace and dignity as he participated in the peaceful transfer of power, which is the hallmark of our democracy.
But something else exists as a democratic hallmark in our society: The ability of Americans to peacefully gather to make our voices heard through protest and demonstration.
Millions of people – women, men, whites, Blacks, Latinos, gay and straight – came together for the Women’s March. The march has been recognized as the largest protest to ever take place on American soil.
Right after President Trump was inaugurated, the new White House website went live, and we were presented with the President’s digital platform. I was appalled to see that the civil rights, LGBTQ, climate change and even disability sections of the website had been pulled down and replaced with fringe issues that do not represent the majority of Americans.
This is what prompted me to join the Women’s March; and I was proud to join these powerful women as we presented the diversity of America to the world, and protested the dangerous policies of President Trump. We all took a stand – not only for women, but for all Americans.
Our American society is so very different and diverse, and it’s important that this diversity is represented in President Trump’s administration.
Even though the Women’s March is over, we still must continue our stand of solidarity with one another. It’s important that Americans continue to make our voices heard.
When he won the presidency, Donald Trump was endowed with the power to lead our country in the direction that he sees fit. But every single American is endowed from birth with the power to raise our voices high, and engage our leaders, and even educate them where it’s needed. This is how we hold our leaders accountable to us, the people.
During his first seven days, President Trump has issued many controversial executive orders that may greatly impact the state of Mississippi, as well as the rest of the country.
One of the president’s moves was to pull the U.S out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (also known as TPP).
Former President Obama pushed for the TPP in 2015 as a way to “promote economic growth, support the creation and retention of jobs, and enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness”.
NASDA (the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture) predicted that the TPP would greatly benefit Mississippi’s economy, creating hundreds of new jobs in our state, as well as increasing our net agricultural exports at least $52.8 million per year. Mississippi’s trade opportunities would also have grown exponentially.
Now Mississippi will never see those jobs or the economic boost that the TPP would have provided.
This week President Trump also announced a federal hiring freeze. There are currently over 17,000 federal workers in our state, and there are many 2017 college graduates who, because of their passion for public service, would have applied for federal jobs. This hiring freeze will undoubtedly alter the course of their planned careers.
As the President and the Republican Congress prepare to finally repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA-also known as Obamacare), many Mississippians will now see their healthcare benefits dwindle. According to census data, more than 128,000 Mississippians have healthcare as a result of the ACA. Many who previously would have been rejected by insurers because of their preexisting conditions are now able to obtain coverage for the first time.
Now these newly-insured Americans across the country are uncertain. What does a repeal of the ACA do to their healthcare coverage? Without a plan in place to present to the American people, the Republican leaders have effectively thrown many Americans into panic mode.
This is the first seven days, and I understand that there hasn’t been nearly enough time to fairly assess the presidency of Donald Trump. But his directives in this first week have set an alarming precedent. Because of his lack of political history, we cannot even begin to plan for the next four years. President Trump has no political baseline to examine.
This is why we must continue to use our voices to ensure that we still have a seat at the table. This is our American right. We respect the fact that President Trump has been elected to be our leader; but he must also respect the diverse people that he leads. He cannot dismiss our plights and our worries as merely “criticism from the other side”.
There are no sides anymore. There’s simply America and Americans. I believe that if we remember this one simple fact, then the next four years will prove to be a great exercise in American democracy and freedom.