It’s the first day of the 115th Congress, and already the wave of Trump’s bullish agenda is approaching the east coast. Everything in my gut tells me small changes will be made to look like huge victories during this Presidency. Very little tends to change when power passes from one person to the next on Inauguration Day. However, the gross power the President now possesses, thanks to decades of Constitutional erosion by both Democrats and Republicans, now lies in the hands of a giant orange question mark. What will a Trump Presidency look like, and how will he use the power he’s been given by over a century of authoritarian policies?
Today marks the first day of Congressional business, and while no official votes have been recorded since the 8th of December, House and Senate Republicans are lining up bills to cut corporate taxes, repeal (and replace) Obamacare, and provide other “pro-growth” policies. Alas, here we are. The Trump Presidency is upon is in a short seventeen days and already his supporters are calling today’s announcement of the Ford Motor Company abandoning its plans for a plant in Mexico a “yuge” success. Of course, what does that mean for the consumers of Ford Motor Company? How many people in your family own Ford vehicles, or plan to own Ford Vehicles? How many would still own a Ford vehicle or would consider purchasing a new Ford vehicle if their prices increased dramatically over the next 8 years? In a free market, the consumer always benefits from products being produced in the cheapest possible atmosphere, and Ford can’t take a gamble on saving a buck over the next eight years (assuming they catch a break on taxes), if they’re planning a fifty year investment. We’ve all seen how dramatically policies can change when a new President takes office. If I were Ford Motor Company, I would do the exact same thing, cut my investment in half and invest short term to adjust for market demands, but keep my long term options open. Afterall, they still own the land in Mexico, right? How convenient. Regardless, what isn’t being talked about by proponents of conservatism is the general apathy towards the growing power of the Presidency.
The second thing Donald Trump did today was promise the American people that no more detainees would be released from the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. Despite its great track record of human rights and Constitutional prowess (sarcasm), Trump has decided that the need for safety outweighs the need for common sense and Constitutional limitations on things like torture, death, deplorable conditions and pesky civil liberties. The Constitution does not say the rights laid out within it are sovereign to American Citizens. The Constitution is a framework for how our Government is supposed to function, period. If the rights are endowed upon us by our creator and are inalienable, how do we then quantify restricting those rights to anyone under our sphere of influence? The answer is we aren’t supposed to.
Yesterday, Congressional Republican leadership in a party conference meeting, voted to place the Office of Congressional Ethics under the House Ethics Committee. The OCE was and is (at least for now) a non-partisan independent investigation council that handles investigations of fraud and other ethics violations by members of Congress. Placing the OCE under the Ethics Committee means Congress now controls the OCE, which will be renamed the Office of Congressional Complaint Review. Surely, this has nothing to do with the ongoing investigations and the revelation of several high profile Congressional scandals, or are we just supposed to be naïve?