A very light drizzle fell on Washington D.C. as Donald Trump stepped in front of a crowd of supporters and dignitaries, raised his right hand to the sky, and swore on the bible to become the 45th president of the United States.
By the time Trump was meant to address the nation for the first time as president, the rain was falling a bit harder. But things went on as planned, and the newly sworn-in leader of the free world gave a passionate speech that focused on transferring power back to the American people, promising them social inclusion, unity, prosperity and security.
And of course, greatness. Lots and lots of greatness.
It was a heartwarming speech that could have fooled an unsuspecting bystander into thinking, “hey, this guy might be onto something,” except for the fact that, at that very moment, Trump staffers were taking control of the White House website, and were implementing a number of changes that would quickly expose the hypocrisy of Trump’s message.
Among those changes was the removal of specific pages devoted to people with disabilities and to LGBTQ Equality. These were topics that the Obama administration decided to highlight as important issues on the White House website, and that the Trump administration clearly found superfluous.
So much for Trump’s message on unity and inclusion for all Americans.
And that wasn’t all. At the same time as pages were being deleted from the White House website, a number of new ones were being uploaded. Among them was the America First Energy Plan—an outline of the energy policies that Trump hopes to implement as president—, which fails to mention climate change.
Instead, the newly published policy brief calls to repeal Obama’s Climate Action Plan and put an end to the “burdensome regulations on our energy industry.” All of this without forgetting to include Trump’s commitment to promote the use of all fossil fuels, including, get this, the burning of coal.
Now let’s be honest, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Back in 2012, the now president of the United States tweeted that climate change was a hoax invented by the Chinese, and more recently, he named Rex Tillerson, CEO of oil-giant Exxon Mobile, as secretary of state, and Scott Pruitt, an Oklahoma-attorney who until recently had been a climate change skeptic, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
But even though we could have suspected that this might be coming, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be upset, especially since all of this occurs just days after America’s leading scientists confirmed that 2016 was the warmest year on record, and stated—for the umpteenth time—that the overall warming trends are “driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.”
Impacts on every day Americans
Far from empowering Americans, the policies that Trump posted online on his first day as president will affect some of the United States’ most vulnerable populations: disrupting everything from livelihoods to quality of life to national security.
Take ignoring climate change, for example. According to a report published by the US Global Change Research Program in 2014, disenfranchised Americans living in rural areas—a large part of Trump’s voting base—are among the most affected by the man-made changes in climate. These people, who will struggle to make a living if temperatures continue to rise, will have to increasingly face “severe drought and flooding, damage to levees and roads from extreme storms, shifts in planting and harvesting times, and large-scale losses from fires and other weather-related disasters.”
To make matters worse, ignoring climate change may also affect national security. As the second emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world, any increase in emissions in the US is likely to affect global temperatures, which some are already linking to global instability and the rise of terrorism.
And then there’s plain old bigotry. Erasing LGBTQ issues and disabilities from the White House website exposes the Trump Administrations narrow understanding of some of the most pressing issues that affect the daily lives of millions of Americans across the country. Purposefully excluding these groups of people from the public agenda is a setback of giant proportions, which will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the lives of many Americans.
Make hypocrisy great again
As the rain fell on Washington D.C., Donald Trump—now president of the United States—looked out at the assembled crowd and spoke to them directly.
“Together,” Trump started. “We will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And yes, together, we will make America great again.”
It’s a great message, but here’s the question: can it be reconciled with Trump’s first actions as president?
The answer is clear: No, it can’t.