A new administration will not guarantee an end to systemic inequalities 

The end of the Trump presidency does not mean the end of division and injustice.

Former+President+Donald+J.+Trump%27s+administration+deeply+impacted+our+nation%27s+political+culture.+

Claire Moore '22

Former President Donald J. Trump’s administration deeply impacted our nation’s political culture.

The dystopian aura that settled over our country began with COVID-19 in March 2020 and culminated in the attacks of January 6. Rioters in support of former President Donald J. Trump stormed the United States Capitol over his false claims of election fraud.  Although many hope that the end of Mr. Trump’s administration will dispel the current political chaos, these expectations are naïve.  Pertinent social issues such as systemic racism, homophobia, and economic inequity will not disappear after Inauguration Day. 

Controversy surrounded Mr. Trump from the beginning of his political career.  Many doubted the legitimacy of his presidential campaign and expressed concerns over his inexperience, according to britannica.com.  However, he gained the support of conservative voters, receiving the Republican party nomination and eventually winning the election.  A public outcry of shock followed Mr. Trump’s ascension to the presidency, resulting in numerous peaceful protests and marchesHis administration enacted policies aligned with xenophobic perspectives, including his anti-immigration acts, denouncement of the Black Lives Matter movement, and mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to ballotpedia.org. 

As of January 13, the United States House of Representatives voted to impeach Mr. Trump for the second time, citing “incitement of insurrection” after he allegedly provoked the Capitol invasion as a part of his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, according to CNN.  The House utilized Mr. Trump’s open encouragement of his supporters to fight the election results and assurance of their protection should they engage in any form of lawlessness as evidence of his culpability.  This is just one example of how Mr. Trump demonstrated impulsivity and entitlement in his leadership. 

The Confederate flag never waved within the White House until January 6.  Courtesy of Mr. Mike Theiler

While members of Congress certified the victory of President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Trump’s supporters congregated outside of the Capitol.  Violence erupted when the rioters bypassed police barricades, forcibly entered the Capitol, and ransacked the building’s interior.  All members of Congress were under lockdown for the duration of the break-in.  The mob emerged and confronted law enforcement in the late afternoon.  Five people, including a local police officer, died as a result of the chaos, according to The Wall Street JournalCongress returned to work and verified Electoral College votes in the early hours of Thursday morning.   

The events of January 6 were a wake-up call for the entire nation.  We should not only wonder how our country reached this point, but also reflect on the greater implications of the riots.  Mr. Trump endangered democracy from the beginning of his presidency.  His abrasive leadership style and larger-than-life persona influenced the misconception that all of America’s deep systemic flaws will disappear upon his removal from office.  America’s deeply embedded racism is now more apparent than ever as radicals waved the Confederate flag in the Capitol, rioters donned anti-semitic paraphernalia, and police officers took pictures with white supremacists instead of upholding national security, according to nbcnews.com.  Moreover, the number of citizens that remain in support of a president who promoted discrimination and intolerance throughout his administration is shocking. 

Mr. Trump’s blatant refusal to respect the outcome of the 2020 election and his incessant claims of fraud weaken the critical democratic process of a peaceful power transfer.  He demonstrated the instinct of authoritarian leaders to cling to power and disregard the wishes of citizens.  His attempts to overturn the election result diminished trust in our country’s constitutional institutions and at minimum will further political polarization and radicalism, according to uchicago.edu.  If anything, the Trump administration illuminated the gravity of the weaknesses in American government institutions.  Our nation’s widespread loss of faith in democracy is deeply concerning, especially considering its current fragility. 

The anarchy also seriously marred the global credibility of the United States, according to The New York Times.  As angry rioters stormed the capital of the world’s top democracy, the rest of the world watched in disbelief.  The turmoil witnessed in Washington, D.C. threatens democracy and liberty everywhere as it empowers authoritarian leaders who wish to override democratic values.  Many prominent world leaders expressed concerns over America’s political unrest as they observed the unimaginable.

“After our catastrophic failure in the 20th century, we Germans were taught by the United States to develop strong democratic institutions,” Mr. Andreas Michaelis, the German ambassador to Great Britain, said, according to The New York Times.  “We also learned that democracy is not just about institutions. It is about political culture, too.”

Although Mr. Trump undeniably shook the political sphere, his removal will not solve our country’s deeper problems.  It will take time and effort to begin dismantling centuries of institutionalized racism, which has seeped into the structural folds of our nation.  The Capitol riots show that accountability lies not only within the presidency, but also within the citizens of America.  If we continue tolerating discrimination, ignorance, and outright violence, we will not progress towards a culture of equity, acceptance, and respect.

Miss Amanda Gorman, the nation’s first National Youth Poet Laureate, expressed hope for America’s continued growth despite past division and unrest.  Courtesy of Mr. Patrick Semansky

The undeniable election of Mr. Biden brought new hope to many for restoring order within the United States, according to The New York Times.  In collaboration with Vice President Kamala Harris, Mr. Biden strives to promote a more unified and equitable national government.  The Biden administration intends to pass legislation to beat COVID-19, tackle climate change, support immigration, and improve urban planning, according to joebiden.com.  Following the victories of senators Mr. Jon Ossoff and Mr. Raphael Warnock, the newly Democrat-controlled Senate will aid Mr. Biden in passing these progressive policies.

Despite these steps in the right direction, it is time for us to take initiative as American citizens and to advocate for equality and justice.  For the past four years, everything in the political sphere has centered around Mr. Trump.  Yet, the conclusion of his time in office does not put an end to the many systemic social issues that plague our country.  Discrimination will still permeate society even under Mr. Biden’s administration.  As not only citizens, but as human beings, it is our right and responsibility to speak out and hold our government accountable.

Featured Image by Claire Moore ’22