President Trump: Politics Over People

Conner Hua, Photography Editor

Growing up in Arcadia, a sphere of comfortable upper-middle-class families, I—amongst many of my peers—have never had to worry about my family getting by. My entire life, I’ve been blessed to enjoy the privilege of not having to go to sleep wondering whether or not my family will be able to make rent for that month or having to cut down on non-necessities. However, the same cannot be said for those everywhere. Across the nation, many families live their lives paycheck-to-paycheck; any falter or hiccup in their influx of paychecks, even for a couple of days, could be disastrous to the well-being of them and their families.

President Donald Trump has run his entire campaign and political mindset off one simple phrase: “America first.” A self-proclaimed nationalist, Trump’s legislation and political goals center around a goal of bettering the lives of Americans over the lives of citizens of the world, or so he claims. In an ironic twist, the border wall that President Trump has vigorously claimed will protect American citizens has resulted in the jeopardy of millions of American government workers. In order to fund this border wall, President Trump requested $5.7 billion from Congress. Although his efforts were able to pass the House, due to bipartisan opposition in the Senate, the U.S. Congress and Trump reached an impasse in which neither party was able to agree on a budget for the 2019 fiscal year. Subsequently, on Dec. 22nd, certain branches of the U.S. government were shut down. As of Jan. 25th, the 2018-2019 government shutdown had reached its 35th and final day, becoming the longest government shutdown in the history of the nation. It is said to have costed the economy $3 billion.

Following the shutdown, President Trump has claimed numerous times that this shutdown was his doing and that he was “very proud of doing what [he] was doing.” Although the House has since attempted to compromise by passing multiple bills to reopen the government, President Trump has refused to consider any of these bills if the $5.7 billion is not appropriated to the wall. The prospects of Congress overriding Trump’s veto also seem dismal as Senate Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, has claimed that Senate Republicans will not support any bill that President Trump hasn’t agreed to.

For a President who claims he puts the lives of American citizens first, this shutdown is seeming to contradict the values he holds so true to his heart. The first pay period of the year passed recently, and each of the 800,000 federal workers impacted by the shutdown was denied a paycheck. For the American citizens who live their lives paycheck-to-paycheck, missing a single paycheck can have serious repercussions. Just because they are not being paid does not mean life stops: students still have loans they have to pay, homeowners have mortgages to pay, and savings will only last so long before these government workers are left with no options. In yet another ironic twist, among the 800,000 American workers who were being denied a paycheck in 2019 are the Transportation Security Administration workers. The branch that protects America’s national security at every airport by ensuring that safe people enter our nation—the same purpose the wall is supposed to serve—had their livelihoods threatened by the wall.

The president fails to realize that using the American people as puppets, political leverage in a twisted game of petty politicking, is wrong and unpresidential. Whether it be cutting Federal Emergency Management Agency funds from California to assert dominance when people are suffering from the worst wildfires in the state’s history or choosing the wall over the paychecks of more than millions of American workers, President Trump has made clear time and time again that his political mindset is not “America first.” He can and will put the lives and well-being of the American people in order to advance his political agenda.