The 2016 presidential election displayed how polarized our nation’s politics have become, as Democrats and Republicans have failed to find common ground on many issues. As polarization is most certainly an issue with our government, I see President Trump’s authoritative attitude as an even more pressing matter as he demands decisions to be made more quickly.
“If UC Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” tweeted President Trump on Feb. 2 in response to the college canceling an event where Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak. The University decided to not hold the event due to violent protests between various groups of people.
Yiannopoulos has been known for preaching far right-wing views, loudly bashing immigrants, women’s rights and many other progressive movements according to Bloomberg News. Throughout 2016 and into 2017, he has been touring across America speaking on many other college campuses, such as Columbia and the University of California Los Angeles.
Regardless of how ridiculous the situation itself was, what struck me about the entire situation was President Trump’s reaction, giving the University an ultimatum of “cutting their federal funds” via Twitter. Of course, the legitimacy of the threat could be questioned. However, for the purposes of this article, let’s pretend Trump has the power to simply cut Berkeley’s funds as he pleases.
As president, this is the first ultimatum I recall Trump issuing, which in my opinion not only is bad practice for his presidency, but sets a bad precedent for future presidents to come.
Any United States citizen who has taken an eighth grade civics class knows our governing process was built on a foundation of compromise between multiple powers, including the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The three powers practice a system of checks and balances in order to assure one does not gain too much power compared to the other two.
Still, at this point, I believe many people did not take Trump’s authoritative position toward U.C. Berkeley as a huge issue and thought his abuse of power was rather humorous, which is especially understandable since it was issued on one of his social media accounts. Even Barbara Lee, a representative for U.C. Berkeley, called the ultimatum an “empty threat” in an interview with NBC.
Yet here we are, almost two months after the Yiannopoulos incident at Berkeley, and Trump has used his authoritative attitude in the current healthcare battle Congress is experiencing,
One of Trump’s main campaign promises was to destroy Obamacare, which he flaunted not only on social media but in every corner of the public sector. He and many other Republicans feel the high premiums it creates could be lowered by its repeal.
Angered with Congress’ slow progression on passing another healthcare bill, Trump demanded the house vote on a piece of legislation by March 24. Not only did he impatiently order a vote, but Trump went on to state that if the house failed to vote on a bill, he would go against his campaign promise and keep Obamacare in place.
Of course, Obama’s healthcare bill is not perfect, and neither will any bill passed by Congress in the future. Whatever Congress decides to pass will have positives and negatives, yet the only way to assure the positives outweigh the negatives is if an informed decision is made out of quality debate. In my opinion, Trump’s command for not just a bill, but any bill prohibits Congress from making an educated decision.
Trump’s actions suggest rushed legislation is better than no legislation, which I have to respectfully disagree with. Passing a health care bill without considering all consequences could lead to unforeseen externalities to citizens of the United States who put their trust of representation in the legislative procedure. Regardless of political belief, the well-being of all Americans should be Congress’s top priority, and a rushed decision on legislation ignores that.
Aside from Trump rushing Congress to vote, his ultimatum of keeping Obamacare in place as a punishment ignores the well-being of citizens as well. As I previously stated, Obamacare is not perfect and could benefit from reform like any other bill.
The president’s stubborn threat of keeping the bill in place halts necessary progression of our healthcare system in general into the future. Our healthcare is not meant to be used as a bargaining tool when the president gets frustrated with Congress. Rather, it is meant to better the lives of millions of Americans.
I personally would not like to gamble that a quickly passed healthcare bill will better my own life, let alone the lives of my loved ones. The same goes for any legislation debated in Congress; if the president begins treating all issues in this manner, the consequences could be quite hectic for United States citizens.
Trump’s responses to U.C. Berkeley and the healthcare system should raise concerns for the future of our country’s governing system. The president’s authoritative attitude is counter-productive to bettering the lives of many people, since ultimatums fail to take all factors of debate into consideration.