Jan. 20 marked a full year since Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.
Love the current president or despise him, few can deny that his first year has been anything but ordinary.
Trump’s approach to his candidacy for the White House was widely viewed as unorthodox, and he has continued this approach into his presidency. Trump has involved himself on social media far more than any of his predecessors and used Twitter as a form of communication to spread both his positive and negative views on national and international politics.
USA Today reported that as of Nov. 7, 2017, Trump has tweeted using the social media platform Twitter 2,461 times since the election — a number that has no doubt increased between then and the present.
Using the Twitter handle @realDonaldTrump, the president uses the platform to communicate with his — at the time this article was written — 46,965,378 followers as well as his political allies and opponents. The use of the platform throughout the year has caused a fair amount of confusion among his administration as well as those who follow the president’s actions closely. On July 26, 2017, Trump issued a tweet banning transgender people from serving in the military. The tweet caught the attention of both officials as well as the press and was met with bafflement and confusion, as the normal channels to enact such a policy change had been foregone.
The Washington Post reported that Sen. John McCain said, “The president’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.”
On Aug. 24 the Washington Post reported the policy moving forward through normal channels despite the backlash within the military against the ban, but the move did nothing to change the fact that both opponents and supporters of the policy first heard of it via Twitter.
Along with his use of Twitter, the 45th president has become known for many moves through the year, including Executive Order 13769, titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, most commonly referred to as the travel ban. Trump’s fierce opposition to the media and his shutdown of Obama-era policy protecting DACA recipients are also well-known.
His travel ban was met with a slew of protests at airports and in the streets across the United States, as a large amount of Americans opposed the executive order. Some courts overrode different iterations of the executive order, and the division between supporters and opponents of this order seemed to only deepen an already wide divide between different groups of Americans.
PewResearch.org reported on Feb. 27, 2017 that “most Republicans support and most Democrats oppose the order, which would temporarily prohibit accepting new refugees from Syria into the U.S. and also prevent people (refugee or otherwise) from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.”
Furthermore, the report revealed, “The partisan gap is mirrored by a religious one. About three-quarters of white evangelical Protestants (76 percent), most of whom identify with or lean toward the GOP, say they approve of the travel ban. In stark contrast, big majorities of black Protestants (84 percent) and religious ‘nones’ (74 percent) — two strongly Democratic constituencies — disapprove of the executive order.”
Even among religious groups, the divide was not so clear cut, as “(most) Catholics (62 percent) also disapprove of Trump’s action on this issue. But among Catholics, there are big differences in opinion between whites, who are evenly divided in their view about the order, and Hispanics and other racial and ethnic minorities, who overwhelmingly disapprove of the restrictions on refugees and travel. White mainline Protestants also are divided on the issue.”
The combination of the media’s reporting on the president’s use of Twitter, as well as his other actions within office, earned many publications the ire of the president, as Trump dubbed a term that became widely famous and infamous: fake news.
Trump, via Twitter and through interviews, dismissed media outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post. Trump’s tweets did little to cow news organizations, however, as fact-checking the president's tweets and words became routine for many outlets. An example of one news organization’s fact-checking would be the Washington Post which awarded pinocchios to information that the president claimed as fact when research and proof proved otherwise.
News organizations’ polls have also proven to be a sore spot between the Trump administration and media, as RealClearPolitics gathered data from Trump’s Job approval rating, showing the president has an average 39.9 percent approval rating overall.
Shortly before the anniversary of his inauguration, Trump moved to hand out what he dubbed “The Fake News Awards.” The action caught the attention of celebrity Stephen Colbert who advertised himself on a Time’s Square Billboard nominating himself for an award. Colbert’s efforts however did not grant him such an award, as the process of handing out the awards caused a fair amount of confusion.
The New York Times, along with other notable media presences such as the Washington Post, reported that the link Trump posted to the awards session went first to a malfunctioning link to GOP.com, the Republican National Committee website, before being corrected later.
The coverage of the “fake news awards” and “awards” themselves however was overshadowed by the division between Americans on the topic of DACA.
DACA division was sowed among parties, families and even individual family members further when Trump decided to end protection to DACA recipients, most often referred to as Dreamers.
The decision to end DACA brought along, much like the travel ban, a string of protests and bitter communication between both the Republican and Democratic parties. The move carried over to decisions in regards to the budget and ultimately culminated in a government shutdown.
Pewresearch.org revealed that despite the divide between Republican and Democratic parties, “The American public has clear-cut opinions on both issues at the center of the current debate on immigration policy. A large majority (74 percent) favors granting permanent legal status to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children, but 60 percent oppose a proposal to ‘substantially expand the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico’ – a longtime goal of President Donald Trump.”
Diving deeper into the research showed that Democrats overwhelmingly support Dreamers, while Republicans are more split, but support for Dreamers does come from both parties.
So with many of President Trump's actions, as well as the current division among Democrats and Republicans, how did both parties arrive to this shutdown?
Well, a large part may be due to a division despite issues in which both parties agree on.
Pewresearch.org revealed a study on Oct. 5, 2017 that stated, “Even on issues on which Republicans and Democrats have moved in the same direction — for example, growing numbers in both parties say homosexuality should be accepted rather than discouraged — the partisan differences are wider today than in the past.”
A division for division’s sake. A divide created for the purpose of standing opposite to a party, rather than being connected to any fundamental reason.
Jan. 20, 2018 marked the anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration and with the country in the midst of a government shutdown, both parts of Congress stand opposed — along with many citizens of the nation.
Nichole Harwood is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers alumni and art features. The opinions in this column are her own.She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.