By Emily Cortes
Before the MAGA slogan, hats, and flags flying off of boats and homes across the country, maybe the closest thing we saw to that was a Bernie bumper sticker or city council signs on a neighbor’s front lawn. The businessman turned 45 President branded himself in a way that his supporter and ally, Kanye West does; sweatpants are $10 at Walmart, maybe $50 from Nike, but people will spend $495 dollars for YEEZY resell sweats because they’re YEEZY.
Trump appealed to those Americans who, at one point not very long ago, were the blueprint for American living. Those small business owners, farmers, middle Americans that went to church, upheld their conservative values, kept traditions alive, and enjoyed living a life where no one told them what they were doing was wrong. For Americans who felt like they were losing their power positions, he reassured them, promising to return to the norm, in exchange for a vote.
Trump’s legacy was to rebuild the America that best served Trump and people most like Trump, although many people have nothing in common with him, other than being white, or a male, and for some people, wealth. Many Americans saw Trump as a figurehead for the status quo. Biden is a figurehead for disruption of the societal structure that many have grown accustomed to. It’s difficult to get the left on board with the right when their respective officials have different visions for what it means to be an American.
Donald Trump’s legacy is one of complexity and much needed analysis that can not be completely understood for years to come, however one impression this administration left behind will heavily impact survivors of sexual assault, specfically on college campuses.
The Title IX clause that appears at the end of our syllabi began with signing legislation that created equal opportunity and prevented discrimination on the basis of sex, for both students and faculty at any educational facility receiving federal funds. After it was introduced in 1972, it became a tool to aid sexual assault survivors by guarenteeing their right to access education after being deprived by experiencing rape, sexual violence, or harassment.
The Trump administration’s policy reversal was enacted to allow those accused of sexual assault an appelate process upon an undesirable outcome, which is excellent for those who were falsely accused. However, this policy reversal is extremely flawed since it does not allow survivors that same appellate process upon an undesired outcome, meaning a perpetrator who was accused, really committed the crime, but was found not guilty, is allowed to walk free while the survivor carries trauma.
Other changes to the policy includes allowing schools to settle sexual assault accusations through mediation, and also granting the school the right to not make accommodations, such as schedule or dorm changes, for students who were sexually assulted.
Out of 100 estimated rapes, only 31% are reported to police, 5.7% of perpetrators are arrested, 1.1% are referred to prosecutors, 0.7% are convicted, and 0.6% are incarcerated. With statistics like this, I believe the Trump administration should have redirected their efforts from protections for perpetrators to justice for victims.
A heavy portion of Trump’s campaign was to “Build the Wall!” and “make Mexico pay for it!” even though Mexico didn’t. The building of The Wall was not just a physical structure to keep illegal citizens in their native lands; it served as a symbol of superiority that existed within the walls, and reinforced a notion that those who were on the outside will never have a place on the inside.
What Trump did leave behind, however, is an incomplete wall with a price tag that’s five times more expensive per mile than it was under previous administrations. Since Trump demanded Mexico to foot the bill, tension grew with our southern neighbor.
In the end, the funds used to build the wall came from military counter-narcotics funding, which is the formal term for “taxpayer dollar.” Taking funding from military counter narcotics funds seems counterproductive when redistributed to a border wall, since 77% of drug traffickers are American citizens.
We must remember that borders are fictional, imaginary, made up. They’re simply lines on a map. They don’t separate people, objects, or ideas. The Americas are geographically existent from North to South and touch both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Borders are a tool to establish dominance, power, and ownership. But, in theory, this land does not belong to “us,” it never has, and it never will.
Much of Biden’s work will bring America to the median level it stood at during the Obama administration. The Trump Presidency strayed so far from the median that Biden will spend a lot of time pulling it back.
Congress is notorious for being super lazy and not very diligent, especially democrats. Both parties must hold their officials accountable if nothing is accomplished that substantially and positively impacts the American people. Keep in mind that Biden must do some backtracking. Many Americans fear major disappointment with Biden, like myself, regardless of what party they belong to.
After his first week in office, Biden has signed over 30 Executive Orders, which has the GOP in their usual uproar. The first few orders signed called for changes to the COVID-19 response, preceded by a halt on federal student loan repayment, followed up by immigrant rights, including a pause on the wall construction at the southern border.
These actions are just a few pieces of the puzzle that Biden has to rebuild after Trump had a tantrum and threw the puzzle pieces off his desk. The Executive Order banning contract renewals between the Department of Justice and private prisons is a helpful step in the right direction. However, this order does nothing to free people who are imprisoned for minor crimes, falsely accused of crimes, or are being exploited by the prison industrial complex, which is nearly all prisoners.
Many students are outraged at Biden’s decision to allow a longer student loan repayment time when he has the authority to eliminate the student debt, tipping in at $1.5 trillion. Pausing the repayment of student loans only really assists students who have graduated and obtained their degrees. Students who are still enrolled will have to pay that debt back, with no buffer time. That frustration comes from individuals who voted Biden into office so he can make substantial socioeconomic changes where citizens can see those results first hand.
Depending on the impeachment trial of the former president on February 9, 2021, Trump’s legacy as a politician may continue. I personally see him running for governor of Florida, and winning that seat by a landslide, just like he claimed he won every other election.
Trump, deep down, knows and accepts that his reign as supreme leader of this beautiful country died a sad and slow death, but his words, for reasons beyond my understanding, resonate with people across the country. Biden has a long four years ahead of him, but regardless of the outcome, the 2020 election made Americans understand the inner corruptions and faults of their government, while nearly breaking away from it.
Nonetheless, Americans have seen how influential they can be and how their voices have the absolute power to demand change and recreate a legacy for the American people, we just need leaders who reflect that.