Franklin Delano Roosevelt set the record when he took office in 1933 during the Great Depression and passed fifteen major pieces of legislation. Ever since then, presidents have been measured by that daunting standard and have reacted in different ways. John F. Kennedy tried to lower expectations when he said on Inauguration Day, “All this will not be finished in the first 100 days, nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days.” Barack Obama looked ahead on the night he was elected and said, “We may not get there in one year, or even one term.” Donald J. Trump didn’t wait for the 100 days mark. He boasted in mid April , “ No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.” Now, as the 100 day deadline approaches, he has reversed himself saying, “It’s an artificial barrier. Not very meaningful. A ridiculous standard.”
Trump had set himself up in October when he issued a “Contract With the American Voter, which he called “my l00 day action plan to Make America Great Again.” He certainly has been very busy in the Oval Office: taking the U.S. out of the Trans Pacific- Partnership Trade agreement and signing 25 executive orders reversing many of Obama’s regulations on the environment. He enjoys holding each one up to be photographed for Cable News coverage. Trump has also signed 28 bills into law concerning teacher preparation, land management and federal procurement. His appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is his one major accomplishment. The important promises he made repeatedly throughout the campaign at his rallies have not happened. Two Muslim Travel Bans were stalled by Federal Judges. The much touted Wall on the Mexican border has not been started. The Repeal and Replace Obamacare bill failed to even reach a vote in The House of Representatives. Another promise to change or scrap NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) has not occurred.
Of, the ten major pieces of legislation Trump had vowed to pass, only one had been introduced – Healthcare. “None have been passed – not a single one—and nine haven’t been sent to the Congress” said Ronald A. Klein, top White House aide under Obama and Bill Clinton. “If Trump finds himself hoisted on the 100-day test, it is a petard that he erected for himself.”
Saturday, January 21, the day following Donald Trump’s inauguration as president, American women, men and children marched in the millions across the country in cities and towns to proclaim their resistance to his election. These were the largest marches in United States history. They began a Resistance Movement that has built steadily since that day. Resistance to President Trump has taken many forms and appears to strengthen and increase. Television coverage and commentary keep the public informed as Town Meetings and Representatives’ offices are besieged by unhappy voters. They protested, “ACA! ACA! “ Affordable Care Act, when Congress was considering replacing Obamacare. Citizens were vocal and angry as they told personal stories of lives being saved.
Voters camp outside offices and flood telephone lines to their Representatives and Senators for many reasons. They are dismayed that EPA regulations on clean air and water are being overturned by executive orders. They are extremely unhappy with the choice of Betsy De Vos to be Secretary of Education since she favors charter schools over public schools. Hundreds of people marched across the states and petitioned senators to stop her appointment. It passed by only one vote – Jeff Sessions— on the day before he became Attorney General. Mitch McConnell, Republican majority leader, postponed Sessions assuming office so that his vote could be counted.
Trump’s approval rating fell into the mid 30’s. It rose to 40% after he launched a bomb strike at a Syrian airport in retaliation for Assad gassing his people. At 40%, it is the lowest by far of any modern president at the 100 day mark. (Obama was at 61%) John Cassiday wrote in The New Yorker about the Resistance Movement, “Indeed, what is striking is how many people Trump has mobilized who previously didn’t pay much attention to what was happening in Washington. He has politicized many formerly apolitical people; ultimately, this may be among his biggest achievements as president.”
During the Spring recess, members of Congress returned to their districts to find voters filled with anxiety and anger at town hall meetings. Two Republican senators are seen as vulnerable in the 2018 election: Dean Heller of Nevada and Jeff Flake of Arizona. Heller in a state that Hillary carried, wavered on his support for Planned Parenhood funding at a town hall meeting in Reno. Chants arose of “Answer the question!” Jeff Flake was also harangued at a town hall in Mesa on Planned Parenthood funding. Women and men shouted over and over, “You work for us!” Trump’s failure to release his tax returns was another hot issue for senators and representatives. Senator Tom Cotton, a strong Trump supporter, was booed heavily when he defended Trump’s refusal, saying, “As far as I’m aware, the president says he’s still under audit.” Loud jeers erupted at this answer. People have known since the campaign that the I.R.S. affirms that an audit is not an impediment to releasing tax returns.
Other signs have buoyed hopes of the Resistance Movement . Two very close House elections in solid red states, Kansas and Georgia resulted in a razor- thin 7 point victory in Kansas, and a run-off in Georgia where the Democrat nearly garnered 50% for victory. Two national polls also showed resistance to Trump was spreading fast among young voters. A Gallup poll released in mid-April found that the percentage of respondents age 18-34 who believed Trump keeps his promises fell sharply, 22 points in the two months from early February to early April, from 56 percent to 34 percent. In addition, Pew Research Center surveyed young people 18 to 29. They gave Trump his highest disapproval rating of 63 percent of any age group.
Wired magazine reported in April that “the resistance is weaponizing data” with the emergence of a new tool Flippable. It finds and designates which districts are the most competitive for Democrats and allows donors to target those districts. Finally, Time magazine reported in early April, “For more than 15,000 students across the country Wednesday marked the first day of Resistance School —a program where the educational focus is mobilizing against President Donald Trump’s administration.” The school was organized by a group of Harvard graduate students and offers “lessons on mobilizing activists and sustaining long term resistance.”
April 15: Marches for Trump Tax Returns. In over 200 cities, American citizens turned out on Saturday in huge numbers across the country to protest Donald Trump’s failure to release his tax returns. Despite Trump insisting that people “are not interested” in his taxes, polls consistently show 74 percent want him to do just that. In San Francisco, an enormous chicken was blown up and displayed to make him look ridiculous and cowardly. Some commentators reminded everyone how Trump smirked during the debates and said, “That’s smart!” to find ways to avoid paying taxes.
The March for Science: On Saturday, April 24, protest marches took place in hundreds of United States cities and around the world in Europe and Asia. The kick-off began in Washington D.C. where thousands of scientists and their supporters gathered to call on the American people to stand up for scientific research. As they streamed toward the capitol, they chanted, “Save the E.P.A.” and “Save the N.I. H”. They carried signs listing diseases that no longer occur due to vaccines… One read, “If you think research is expensive, try disease!”
During his campaign, Trump called climate change a “ hoax created by the Chinese”, and attacked the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as encroaching on American sovereignty. He also cast suspicion on the validity of vaccines. Once elected, he appointed cabinet members who were anti-science. Secretary Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency had led lawsuits against the E.P.A. as a state attorney general. In his Budget, Trump would cut the E.P.A by 31 percent, and eliminate a quarter of the 15,000 employees. The N.I.H., National Institutes of Health would lose 18 percent of their funding. In Boston, where many work in hospitals and biomedical firms, thousands marched in a cold rain. Students from Harvard and M.I.T. marched over a bridge from Cambridge, chanting, “What do we want? Science!” Dr. George Daley, dean of the Harvard Medical School, said, The proposed cuts would have a “cataclysmic effect” on the state’s economy.
Epilogue: Denis Hayes, the principal organizer of the first Earth Day in 1970, said, “You have a clear enemy. You’ve got a president, who, along with his vice president, his cabinet and his party leadership in both houses of Congress have a strong anti-environmental agenda. He’s basically trying to roll back everything that we’ve tried to do in the last half century.”
…………………………………………………………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson