As many of us start strategizing for our future well-being under a Donald Trump/Mike Pence America (because make no mistake, Pence is every bit, if not more, scary and dangerous than Trump himself), one of the most important things we can do for ourselves is to stay smart. By that I mean, stay educated as to what’s going on in those specific areas that affect us the most under the new regime. Here are some of the policies that I predict are going to be the most important to keep on the radar in Trump’s America.
Unlike Michelle Obama’s somewhat short-lived promotion of organic gardening and healthy eating, there will be little if any leadership in this area from the White House or Congress. Trump himself frequently makes disparaging remarks about people – especially women – whom he considers fat or overweight, giving tacit acceptance to existing bigotry and distrain for people not considered thin enough. With the loss of the Affordable Care Act,(ACA), commonly called Obamacare, it is likely that coverage of weight loss surgery, just now beginning to be covered by some health insurance plans after being considered “elective surgery” for many years, will be dropped again.
With a president who publicly mocked a disabled reporter, the attitude of the White House toward the disabled community was unmistakable. The end of Obamacare threatens critical support for the disabled; the loss of the provision requiring insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions will be catastrophic. This, coupled with the likelihood of the transfer of Medicaid (see paper #24) funding to block grants which are controlled by the states, will probably result in a serious reduction in support for services that many disabled people rely on, with little reason to believe whatever plan the Republicans eventually come up with will be an improvement.
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Two members of Trump’s Administration, assuming Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama is confirmed as Attorney General, and Stephen Bannon, appointed as chief strategist, have given a clear indication of what policy towards race will be under the new Administration – full out conciliation and tolerance, if not active promotion, of the most reactionary racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, and white nationalist views. Voting rights, immigration, and “crime” are the issues to keep our eyes on, but don’t be surprised if attacks on affirmative action also see a resurgence.
Look for renewed attacks on LGBTQIA people across the board led by Vice-President Pence and the religious right. There are no formal policies regarding sexuality on the federal level, and no laws which protect the rights of LGBTQIA people, other than the discretion of the Department of Justice in bringing hate crime charges against perpetrators of violent crimes, which the Republicans are on record in opposing on principle. Pence is a committed crusader against LGBTQIA rights and has a long history of instituting laws in Indiana to prove it. Don’t be surprised at renewed efforts to undermine or overturn marriage equality, and low priority in enforcing The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.
The loss of Obamacare will have a devastating effect in the area of mental health. In Trump’s America, going back to the pre-Obamacare days of excluding people with pre-existing conditions from insurance eligibility will now immediately deprive millions of people with mental health problems, which are overwhelmingly chronic illnesses, of access to treatment and medication.
Women’s reproductive health will be under major attack in this Administration. These will include efforts to limit access to contraception under whatever replaces the ACA and under Medicaid, and serious efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade. Little support for expanding any protections for women as far as employment, wages, or in other areas can be expected. Another area where it will be important to watch the radar is protection of transgender people, especially with the increasing number of lawsuits being filed on behalf of transgender children. Will the Department of Justice intervene on the side of the states? Will legislation of the type seen in North Carolina go to the Supreme Court? Another important area to keep on the radar is what will happen following the recent decision to remove the ban on allowing transgender military to serve openly which is opposed by the new Administration (which also opposes openly gay and lesbian soldiers, and women serving in combat positions).
Growing old in Trump’s America is going to become more and more difficult for anyone without money. With the loss of the ACA, services for older Americans are in jeopardy. With Trump and Republicans promising massive budget cuts, changes to the Older Americans Act (OAA) the loss of low-cost housing for seniors and reduced funding for research on Alzheimer’s, dementia and other diseases of old age are possibilities, along with major restructuring of how health services are delivered under Medicare and Medicaid.
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Parenting in Trump’s America is going to be more challenging than ever. Other than changes in access to health care affected by the loss of the ACA, changes in tax policy will have a great effect on parents. While some parents may see some relief if Trump’s plans for partially paid maternity leave and child care reimbursement are successful, overall changes in deductions for dependents, elimination of the head-of-household category, and other restructuring will have the greatest effect on single parents and middle class families.
The stereotypes of what masculinity is all about will remain strong in the Trump Towers/White House. Trump has always cultivated his image as the super-macho playboy whose wealth and privilege make him able to always have a beautiful woman on his arm and to be the most powerful man in the room. This is the unspoken but clear policy of his Administration; his well-publicized misogyny and the predominance of wealthy, older, white men in his cabinet and as his top advisors send a clear signal to the country of how he will govern. Keeping his Twitter feed on our radar is probably going to be the most informative source about his foreign policy as well.
What’s happening globally
We are not alone in the issues and struggles we confront every day; no matter where we live around the globe, we all face our own versions and challenges that often differ only in the details. One of the basic tenets of radical self-love is that we are always conscious that what we do extends beyond ourselves; we choose to be aware of our own footprint and the intersectionality of our struggles. Living in Trump’s America is only going to bring that reality into sharper relief as we confront reactionary turns in climate policy, environmental protection and the rights of workers. More than ever, every day the personal will be the political.