–Soenke Pietsch (‘21)
Donald Trump is making America great again. However, he isn’t doing it in the way he thinks he is. Putting aside all the controversy surrounding our current president Donald J. Trump, he has achieved one thing many of our previous presidents have not, not to mention that he, and only he, deserves credit for it. But it is the same type of credit, Inspector Gadget, a silly inspector of a childish television series, deserves for accidentally solving a crime. He has Americans interested in politics again.
Throughout the eight years Barack Obama served the United States as the forty fourth President, he rarely encountered any controversies or scandals, unlike our current president. Regardless of wish party you side with, politics was very much a “spectator sport”. This principle is best exemplified through the 2014 midterm elections. The Democratic Party and its voters had so much faith in their charismatic, scandal-free leader Barack Obama that many did not believe it was necessary for them to show up at their voting stations. This resulted in the lowest voter turnout of American politics in 70 years. Republicans were able to pick up seven Senate seats and increase their power in government, giving them the edge over Democrats. This had far reaching influences, most notably blocking Obama’s pick for Supreme Court Merrick Garland and make way for a Republican Judge.
As a result, President Trump is forcing U.S. voters to engage in their democracy as many have never before. Take the example of a problem only limited to the United States: in response to the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, then President Obama signed 23 executive actions and insisted Congress limit the sale of assault style weapons. However, at the end of his presidency, not a single law had been passed. Many now believe that the general public’s faith in Obama caused most to forget they actually had to do something to change politics as well. On the other hand, Trump, who had no actual solutions in response to the Stoneman Douglas shooting, inspired a plethora of new measures to be taken. Students, who tragically had to be part of the shooting, started their own campaigns to stop further shootings like the “March for our lives” movement. After years of standstill, the state of Florida raised the legal buying age of a weapon from 18 to 21, thousands of major retailers stopped sales of weapons, causing their shares to sear in value, just to name a few. Therefore, it is only natural to ask, where was this will to change after the shootings in Orlando, San Bernardino, Aurora, Charleston or Sandy Hook?
Witnessing Donald Trump win the Presidency of the United States has sparked something prior politicians have failed at: forcing Americans to take a stand. Debates of sexual assault accusations have gathered around President Trump, however has not been proven. This topic can be exemplified in a plethora of ways from causing women to speak up who have been sexually assaulted to inspiring over 600 women to run for government in the 2018 election, a new high. Additionally, many have started supporting organisation they actually care about and are vital to our democracy like Planned Parenthood or the Anti-Defamation League. To put this into perspective, Americans donated $86 million to the American Civil Liberties Union in 2017 alone, up from only $5 million in 2016. In the week after the 2016 election of Donald Trump, Planned Parenthood donations skyrocketed to 40 times their regular rate. It has become the new normal for Americans to be informed; people are actually reading and paying for their news, something many didn’t bother doing before President Trump. However, most significantly, Donald Trump has caused one of the greatest turnout rates of American political history in the 2018 midterm election, after Americans no longer accepted current politics. Throughout this whole process, it is still important to make sure that one still realizes that the deluge of news and chaos surrounding Donald Trump and his controversy should never be considered “normal” and makes sure it doesn’t just turn into white noise.