On November 8, 2016 Americans went to the polls across the country to cast their ballot for the next President of the United States, since then disappointment, investigations and anxiety have followed. In a turn of events that not even famed TV social comedy South Park’s writers and producers could have imagined and with over two million people voting against him; An arcane system designed in 1789 to protect states with minimal population and prevent the election of unqualified farmers elected a multi-billionaire whose closest attempt at government experience is his meetings with city planning committees as President.
As a Political Science major and policy wonk I have been asked “what now” too many times to count since January 20th. Unfortunately, like too many of my colleagues I can’t give a definite answer due to the volatility of this administration. The few things I can provide fore-sight on present a bleak future for our country. Per campaign promises and the Trump Administration’s actions since inauguration day I can comment on several aspects of our federal government that you didn’t even know you depended on every day.
Let’s start with the salad you had for lunch, per the Trump Administration budget submitted to congress a 21% cut is coming for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) the department charged with food safety inspections including the inspection that ensured your tomatoes and lettuce were free of E. Coli and Salmonella. Now that you have finished lunch you’re ready a jog, right? Picture this: You are jogging down the border-to-border trail and you come to the Huron River. Per the impending budget cuts the already strained Environmental Protection Agency, the agency charged with enforcing water quality standards; the same agency that has stated to Congress it didn’t catch the issues in Flint’s water in-part due to budget constraints will have their budget reduced by 31%. How does the Huron River look now?
Later in the day, you return home and have a voice mail from your doctor suggesting you come in for your annual physical. You arrive at the doctor’s office and the receptionist asks if you have insurance, so you pull out your insurance card. Is it your parent’s insurance? Is it Health Michigan Plan (Medicaid)? Are you a woman? Do you have high medical risk factors? If so, congrats you just used an aspect of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” allows individuals who are under 26 to use their parent’s insurance, provides money to states for Medicaid, prevents health insurance companies from denying you coverage (or limiting coverage) based on the fact you have ovaries, and/or medical risk factors. The Trump Administration has declared they want to repeal this law, that means you may soon be without health insurance, can you pay that $83 office visit fee? Feeling sick yet?
These are just three examples of everyday situations you may be faced with under the Trump Administration. Imagine if you are a person of color, your life is at threat each day due to the US Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions failing to keep local police accountable; for LGBTQ+ people your education is at risk due to the US Department of Education refusing to force your school to recognize your gender identity, or you don’t get justice because the US Department of Justice refuses to prosecute the person who committed a hate crime against you in accordance with the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act; as a Student your federal financial aid is in the hands of the newly appointed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos who when asked about FAFSA didn’t have a clue what was on the form.
Mistakes, apathy and your one vote have consequences and whether you’d like to acknowledge the importance of the November election on your life it will still affect you for the foreseeable future. That is why it is important that you vote. So, what can you do now? Start by learning the name of your state representative, state senator, and member of congress. Once you have done this send them a letter, attend one of their townhalls or coffee hours and get to know them. Get involved on campus, join Student Government, attend a lecture on gun violence or another important topic. If nothing else, keep listening and educated on what happens each week outside your bubble. Together we can change the world, but first we must know what is happening in it.
- Sam Jones-Darling is a 23-year-old public policy consultant in his Junior year at Eastern Michigan University studying Political Science.