Like it or not, Donald Trump merely officially completed his transformation from billionaire industrialist, reality Tv starring and old man yelling on Twitter to 45 th president of the United States. And he didnt even have to give up his other titles to do it.
Theres a lot to say about how this happened. Was it racism or economic nervousnes? Sexism or anti-establishment fury? Out-of-touch liberals or a low-information electorate? An awful miscalculation by Hillary Clintons campaign or Russian hacking? The answer to all of these questions is yes.
If history is kind to Trump, however, he may be remembered best as a man who won by flouting political norms. His supporters revered his brash speaking style and off-the-cuff remarks, often misstep candor for integrity. They said he wastelling it like it is, even as Trump leaned on countless untruths and outright lies throughout the campaign. In November, one of his surrogates suggested that Trump had triumphed not just in the election but in his all-out war on facts.
Theres no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts, said Scottie Nell Hughes, responding to baseless conspiracy hypothesis claiming millions of people had illegally cast ballots in the election.
That is, fortunately, total bullshit. Trump may have shaken many people confidence in the power of objective truth over misrepresentation and ignorance. But facts still exist, and they are continuing matter now more than ever.
So as we prepare for the next four( or however many) years, lets all get a few facts straight. We may not all agree on the best style to deal with the realities below, but we should at the least acknowledge they exist and demand the same of President Trump.
1. There has been no proved link between vaccines and autism.
Lots of people, including Trump himself, have expressed concern that routine vaccinations are leading to increased rates of autism in infants. There is no factual basis for this belief.
But anti-vaxxers dont need hard proof. Driven by a potent distrust in institutions, they allege that government agencies have colluded with Big Pharma to suppress evidence that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative once widely used in vaccines, is harmful to kids.Numerous large-scale scientific studies have found no proof to support this conspiratorial claim, and have instead concluded that thimerosal is safe.
Much of the anti-vaxxer alarm has been based on a now-debunked 1998 analyse published by British surgeon Andrew Wakefield in The Lancet, a medical publication. His research purported to have found links between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella inoculation. But Wakefield was later accused of manufacture data after it was revealed that hed been compensated by lawyers representing families suing MMR vaccine manufacturers. The Lancet retracted his analyse in 2010, and Britains General Medical Council later rescinded his medical license.
Its unclear whether Trump will take a fact-based approach on the issue of vaccines, however. Earlier this month, he met with vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr ., who said that hed been tapped to result a new committee on inoculation safety and scientific integrity. The Trump campaign later said it hadnt made any decisions about forming a commission. But Trumps decision to seek input from Kennedy has already led to fears in the medical community and among reasonable people everywhere that the incoming president could be willing to ignore resolved science and set the health of millions of American children at risk.
2. We still havent assured Trumps tax returns, and the public does care.
Trump transgressed modern precedent by refusing to make this basic fiscal disclosure during his campaign. At a press conference last week, he suggested he wont change his intellect now that hes in the White House. Trump has repeatedly pointed to an ongoing IRS audit as the reason hes avoided releasing his tax documents, while also preserving marriage find nothing in their own homes if given the chance.
Ethics experts say nothing is preventing him from releasing his tax returns, and the filings could offer essential insight into hisbusiness dealings with Russiaand other foreign nations, his use of various types of federal tax loopholes andhis actual wealth. Maybe there really is nothing to see there. If thats the suit, many people would find value in at the least knowing for sure that their president isnt compromised in any way. Instead, Trump will face a persistent skepticism that is entirely his own doing.
And contrary to what Trump has claimed, this does bother the American public.Surveys have shown a majority of Americans believe its Trumps responsibility to release his tax returns, though a Pew survey conducted earlier this month found that only 38 percentage of Republicans still was of the view that way.
3. Trump will benefit financially from his companys success while he serves as president.
Trump has repudiated calls to sell his stake in his companies and set the proceeds from the sale into a blind trust for the duration of his presidency. Ethics experts havetold HuffPostthat this is the one surefire style Trump could address ethics issues surrounding the Trump Organization and its global hotel operations.
By dismissing these concerns, Trump is defying another presidential precedent: All of Trumps modern predecessors divested from potential conflicts of interest or placed their considers into the hands of an independent regent before they presumed the office. Jimmy Carter handed off his peanut farm to an independent administrator to avoid even the slightest appearance of a conflict of interest.
At Trumps press conference earlier this month, his lawyer has pointed out that while Trump wouldnt separate himself from his business, he would donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotels to the United States Treasury. Those gifts are tax deductible, however, and experts say this arrangement does nothing to guarantee that Trumps bottom line wont get a boost from his presidency.
4. Russian aggression has been ramping up, and its not a joke.
Golden shower gags and shirtless Vladimir Putin onSaturday Night Live are fun and all, but its hard to laugh while watching a U.S. president joyously prepare to cede ground to an autocrat intent on interrupting U.S. influence in the global arena.
In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine and confiscated part of its territory. It continues to support separatist rebels there who are linked to the downing of a commercial airliner that killed almost 300 people. Despite this, Trump promised in an interview last year that Putin is not going to go into Ukraine. He later attempted to clarify that he meant that if he became president, he would prevent farther Russian incursions into the region. So far, however, Trump has seemed more interested in cozying up to Putin than in policing his actions.
This bromance could lead to wide-ranging policy changes in the coming months. Some will have immediate repercussions. Trump must decide how to act in Syria, where Putin has aligned with President Bashar Assad in a bloody response to a peaceful mutiny that has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths.If Trump rejects the war crimes accusations lofted at Assad as an acceptable repercussion of Syria and Russias fight against the so-called Islamic State group, the ongoing humanitarian crisis will likely continue and Syria will become even more fertile ground for terrorist recruitment.
Trump has also repeatedly criticized NATO, indicating member nations bordering Russia need to pay up( which many of them already do) in order to get the assurances the treaty affords. A diminished U.S. commitment to NATO would leave Russia with a greater ability to bully former Soviet Union nations. While many in those countries favor closer cooperation with the West, Putin wants to keep them in Russias historic sphere of influence.
Trump and his Cabinet nominees have also refused to rule out rolling back the economic sanctions President obama recently announced in reprisal for Russian hacking surrounding the presidential election. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea that Trump would consider rewarding the regime that deliberately interfered in a U.S. election with the goal of helping him get elected.
5. The crime rate is still near historic lows.
Trump campaigned on a promise to bring law and order to the nation, which he said was being afflicted by rampant crime and violence. Recent crime data suggests the narrative isnt so simple.
Murders and violent crimes did rise substantially in a number of the largest U.S. cities last year, according to a study published in December, and those increases likely pushed an uptick in national rates for the second straight year. This growth arrives after a decades-long downturn, during which the murder rate reached a low point in 2014. Furthermore, nearly half of the 14 percentage increase in slayings in cities last year was attributable to Chicago alone, where more than 750 people were killed in 2016, up from 478 in 2015.
These preliminary figures are troubling, especially if the trajectory of the past two years continues. But its important to keep in mind that violent crimes still remains near the bottom of the nations 30 -year downward trend. The overall crime rate of major U.S. cities also tells another story, with an increase of merely 0.3 percentage last year.
6. Immigrants are not to blame for our problems.
Trump launched his presidential campaignwith a riff about Mexico supposedly sending illegal immigrants across the border to bring crime, medications and rape to the U.S. It was an effective puppy whistling, but a strange claim considering net migration from Mexicohas remained below zero for several years, meaning more people have been crossing back into Mexico than into the U.S. illegally. The data also show that illegal border crossings have been at or near historic lows in the past few years, though crises in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have sparked a wave of migration, with Border Patrol reporting apprehensions of hundreds of thousands of families and unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the U.S.
But theres a broader anti-immigrant tone to rhetoric like Trumps.Many of his supporters have accused undocumented immigrants and in many cases, immigrants in general of committing crimes and taking tasks from Americans, while simultaneously branding them as a net drain on society.
Trump helped push this narrative during the election by campaigning with the families of victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.Hes followed up with avow to deport2 million to 3 million undocumented felons, despite the fact that the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute estimates the total number of undocumented immigrants with criminal records at only 820,000 a figure that includes crimes as petty as traffic violations.
The tragedies among these cases appear to be outliers. Study have shown that new immigrants including those who are undocumented are less or equally likely to commit crimes than their natural-born counterparts.
A separate report published last year found that immigrants had little to no negative effects on overall wages and employment of native-born workers in the longer term. It also concluded that while first-generation immigrants may initially cost governments more in services than they contribute in taxes, they make huge positive financial contributions by the second and third generation.
7. The unemployment rate is as low as its been in the past nine years.
The jobless rate dropped to 4.6 percentage in November, reaching a nine-year low, before ticking up slightly to 4.7 percentage in December. Other metrics suggest the labour markets is less robust for example, the overall workforce participation rate is still below pre-recession levels. But the headline unemployment rate is pretty close to what economists consider full employment, the lowest level possible without triggering cost inflation. Although many of Trumps advocates have stressed that jobs should be his top priority, it may be difficult for him to deliver measurable progress on this metric.
Fortunately for Trump, hes indicated little regard for official unemployment numbers in the past, going so far as to create an alternate reality in which the jobless rate is actually above 40 percentage. This strategy served him well during the campaign, when he sought to portray the U.S. economy as a disaster in need of fixing. Perhaps hell take a different approach now that hes inheriting a strong economy that has, by many indicators, largely recovered from the morass of the Great Recession.Or maybe he wont. Hell likely end up going with whichever one attains him look best.
8. Climate change is real.
This story dropped on Wednesday, two days before Trumps inauguration.
Although Trump has dismissed climate change in the past as a Chinese-led hoax a claim hes since slightlywalked back neither he nor his Cabinet picks appear intent on championing the effort to cut carbon emissions and expand renewable energy sources. The officials preparing to take roles in Trumps administration include literal oil barons, climate change skeptics and outright deniers who have maintained that the science isnt clear on these issues or their causes.
2016 marked the 40th consecutive year of above-average global temperatures in more than a century of record maintaining. The planet keeps getting hotter, Arctic sea ice keeps melting, glaciers maintain retreating, oceans maintain getting warmer and more acidic, sea level maintain rising and extreme weather events maintain growing more common.
The scientific consensus on the cause of these changes is overwhelming: 97 percentage of the scientists who have published articles on climate attribute it primarily to humans, who have pumped a truly astounding sumof greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.They also agree that world leaders need to take drastic steps to cut back on emissions and begin addressing this near-constant rise in global temperaturebefore its too late.
9. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has given health insurance to 20 million Americans.
Health care reform was a signature achievement of Obamas presidency, and while the controversial statute has had its fair share of detractors, its also rendered tangible results. The ranks of the uninsured have dropped by 20 million since 2010, according to areportpublished by the Department of Health and Human Service last year, and “the member states national” uninsured rate is now the lowest ever recorded.
Obamacare isnt perfect. Insurance premiums have risen for many Americans, in some cases substantially. Millions of others remain uninsured due to various gaps in coverage, become worse by Republican governors who have refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.
Trump and congressional Republicans have said the best style forward is to repeal the Affordable Care Act and pass a replacement, while keeping some elements of the coverage expansion in place for as long as four years. Although Trump vowed this monththat the GOP would come up with a plan to provide insurance for everybody, neither he nor Republicansappear interested in actually seeking that promise.The Congressional Budget Office painted a much more dire scenario of the likely consequences of the GOPs plan, predicting that the first year of repeal would lead to 18 million people getting kicked off their health insurance as premiums increase dramatically.
Asurvey published this monthalso found that Obamacare is more popular now than its ever been. For the first time since the health care laws passageway, more Americans said they believe the measure is a good notion than a bad one.
10. Trump did not win the popular vote.
According to thefinal vote tally, 65,844, 610 people cast ballots for Clinton, compared with 62,979, 636 for Trump. Clintons popular vote win is purely symbolic, as Trump won the Electoral College vote 304 -2 27. Clinton finished with the largest margin of victory in raw numbers for any presidential candidate who went on to lose the election. Contrary to Trumps claims, there is no evidence that widespread voter hoax affected the vote totals.
Trumps weaker performance in the popular vote doesnt make him an illegitimate president, as some of his critics have suggested. But on the heels of the most divisive presidential campaign in modern history, its clear that Trump has his run cut off for him. Virtually 66 million people voted for Trumps opponent, and many of them cast ballots not only in favor of Clinton but explicitly against Trumps candidacy, which they insured as empowering racism, sexism and intolerance.
If Trump truly wants to be a president for all Americans, hes going to have to take the concerns of his adversaries into consideration. He cannot expect his adversaries to simply just shut up and blindly fall in line behind their new president merely because he won.
11. Trump has the lowest acceptance rating of any modern president on Inauguration Day.
The chairmen acceptance rating has trended downward since Election Day, and a poll released the coming week showed that 48 percentage almost half of Americans had a negative position of Trump as he prepared for his inauguration. Just 38 percentage of Americans viewed him positively. Additionally, 52 percentage said they disapproved of the style the president-elect handled his transition, compared with merely 44 percentage who approved. Other polls indicated even lower approval ratings.
Those numbers are unprecedented in the modern era. The same poll, taken in early 2009, indicated Obama with a 71 percentage acceptance rating in the run-up to his first inauguration. Obamas approval rating upon leaving office also hovered above Trumps, in the mid-5 0s.
Watching Trumps presidential honeymoon end before the actual nuptials may be cause for schadenfreude, but thats not the point. These polls should remind Trump that hes accountable to the American populace and that his actions as president will have serious, often immediate, repercussions. Instead, hes chosen to reject the premise of acceptance polls entirely.
Although pollsters have admitted the deficiencies in polling around the 2016 presidential election, the biggest flaws appeared at the nation level. National polling on issues like presidential acceptance tends to be more accurate than pre-election polls, because pollsters dont have to deal with the challenge of identifying likely voters. And even if these recent acceptance polls were off by a few points, Trump is still beginning his presidency underwater.
If Trump refuses to heed public opinion and accept that it reflects the nations support for him as a leader, were going to have a rough couple of years ahead.
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