To be the president of a nation, one has to be aware of their words and the weight they carry. They are the voice heard around the world representing a nation, dealing with foreign diplomats and political figures, and leading a nation on what is supposed to be a path of perseverance and success. United States’ President Donald Trump is no stranger to the spotlight, having maintained a celebrity and business presence for many years. Therefore, he is well aware of the need for careful language.
Yet, during his campaign and since taking office, he has demonstrated his inability to keep his speech in check, as well as to make promises that are feasible to keep. Such inaccurate language has unprecedented negative repercussions on the American public. The most obvious example of this is his statement, first appearing in September 2016, that Mexico would pay for his proposed border wall. Despite immediate backlash from the Mexican government, with President Enrique Pena Nieto tweeting that, in a conversation with Trump, “I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall,” Trump continued to espouse this belief. It has since come to light at, as Mexico continues to refuse to pay for the wall, as it is not their responsibility, that US citizens will take on the estimated $15 billion burden through taxes. While Trump has implied Mexico will pay for the wall later, whether through taxes (a method which would have an effect on the American economy) or another method, one cannot help but question the legitimacy of this statement. The fact that a leading promise of his campaign is not currently feasible makes it feel as if will never happen. Rather than establishing a plan that was practical and achievable, it seems likely that he simply spouted off words that he thought would get him the votes. This is not an isolated incident, as other promises he has made, such as making healthcare more affordable for the working class and increasing infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, have recently come into question as information regarding the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act and Trump’s budget proposal have been released.
Other instances where President Trump has recklessly spoken include the “alternative facts” spoken after his inauguration. Press Secretary Sean Spicer, speaking on behalf of the President, said in a press conference, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.” In fact, President Obama’s 2008 inauguration had more people viewing both in person and through other means. However, when presented with this information, Spicer later cited “alternative facts” in regards to where their information had been obtained. No one from the Trump Administration acknowledged that information as either factual or false, or that an alternative fact, by definition, would be false. In this same vein, Trump has also made statements about the nature of media, calling certain news sources, such as The New York Times, “fake news”. This act, meant to delegitimize news sources that criticize his actions and have done so since before he was president, actually hurts his own credibility. As president, it is not in his place to call new sources fake or not, as this could be viewed as an attempt to stifle free speech.
Similarly, the statements he made towards the judge who stopped his original travel ban was a move that hurt his credibility and is harmful to the US.On Twitter, Trump called Judge Robart a “so-called judge.” Such a statement was not only an attack on the judiciary system, an integral part of the American government, but also an attack on the structures of power and government which allow him, and all American citizens, the freedom to live and even to become president. It seems ungrateful to make such statements and is also detrimental to the structure of the government if the president finds it acceptable to diminish the authority and necessity of the judicial system.
Perhaps the greatest of Trump’s threats lies in the realm of international relations. The first instance is the interactions with the Mexican government, which ended in a cancelled meeting with the president soon after Trump’s inauguration. This, as well as statements from Trump insisting Mexico will pay for the wall after the fact, have increased already tense relations between the two nations. The most recent incident occurred after Trump accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower. Judge Andrew Napolitano, an analyst for Fox News, claimed that Obama may have gone outside of the US intelligence agencies in order to avoid leaving fingerprints of his surveillance. As such, he implied that GCHQ, a British intelligence and security organization, had assisted Obama in his surveillance. Sean Spicer then quoted this information at a press conference without any proof to back up the claims. GCHQ made a rare statement, saying that these accusations were “nonsense.”
This incident caused tension with British. Prime Minister Teresa May, one of the first people to provide international support for Trump. She called the claims “ridiculous.” In a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump said, “We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it.” However, the fact that the White House Press Secretary quoted this statement implies a sense of agreement. By attempting to deny agreement, Trump is putting in place a sense of plausible deniability. Despite concerns presented by the UK government, Trump refused to provide the UK government with an apology for the accusations. These incidents, among others and more that are likely to come, have the potential to ruin relations established between the US and other nations, and thus put the US on shaky ground in the ever-tenuous global forum.
As of now, few steps have been taken against Trump for his reckless language, although recently some media sources have become more outspoken against his actions and words. Keeping all of this information in mind, there are a few steps that can be taken in order to fight Trump’s reckless language and lies. First, hold President Trump accountable for his words and actions. Show him and his administration that the people will not forget promises made, and that those affected by forgotten promises will not be forgotten. Second, do not let it slide when he discredits valid media sources. Freedom of speech is staple of American democracy, therefore to approve of his attempts to delegitimize these organizations is a step against free speech. Third, do not accept alternative facts. Any fact that is alternative is inherently not true, and therefore is not factual in any manner. Finally, make clear the importance of international relations in any manner possible. Write articles, posts, whatever it takes to make it clear that relations on a global scale are necessary for the success of a nation. If a country does not work well with other nations, they are doomed to fail on a global scale. The actions taken by Trump, as well as his calls to exit the UN, are cause for deep concern by the American people. While these steps are not major, they are small steps that can hopefully work to change the reckless and false rhetoric that has plagued the Trump Administration since its first days in office.
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