President Trump: An Orwellian Nightmare

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

The calendar says 2018, but it feels like we’re living in George Orwell’s 1984.

If there is one thing President Trump has achieved during his tenure, it’s to normalize lying. It seems that the President feels the need to lie on an hourly basis, whether to slander his rivals and the media, assuage his own ego, or just for the sake of tweeting something.

Being an ordinary liar is bad enough, but the problem becomes exponentially worse when that individual also inhabits the most powerful and prestigious office in the nation, if not the world. As a result, Trump isn’t the only one blasting ludicrous untruths; staunchly conservative news outlets (e.g. Breitbart and Fox) and Congressional Republicans back him at every turn, the latter willing to turn a blind eye if it’ll help them force their agenda through without bipartisan support. Who needs checks and balances anyway, right?

This is tantamount to gaslighting the American people, desensitizing us and whittling away at our common sense with a ceaseless barrage of fabricated statements, gradually convincing us that the administration is doing a great job when in reality, it’s working toward the pro-life and gun-toting country that the NRA and radical conservatives dream about.

President Trump isn’t the first demagogue to ever inhabit the White House: American history is riddled with similar characters like Andrew Jackson and Warren G. Harding, and every president is controversial in some respect. However, Trump stands out in the sense that he lies boldly and frequently to the people, and many of his claims are offensive and inappropriate.

And nothing proves that better than the recent tweet regarding Hurricane Florence.

Crises are generally seen as proving grounds for a president and depending on how well the sitting commander in chief responds, the public may reward their efforts at the polls and ballot boxes; this was evident when George W. Bush’s approval ratings jumped significantly following the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Hurricanes aren’t comparable to something like the falling of the Twin Towers, but they can still destroy millions of homes and take countless lives, leaving wide swaths of destruction in their wake. In these dark times, Americans look to their leader for comfort and support, relying on them as they face the tremendously difficult task of rebuilding.

As Florence made landfall, battering the coast with its strong winds, torrential rains, and dangerous flooding, Trump not only offered few meaningful words of consolation, but he felt the need (as he often does) to correct a past “mistake” by the fake news media. So, on Sept. 13, Trump took to Twitter and proved that even pathological liars can reach new lows:

“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…”
Trump then goes on to blame this “incorrect” reporting on the Democrats:

“...This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”

So not only did the president actively deny the deaths of 3,000 American citizens following Hurricane Maria, he then had the audacity to blame the “false” number on the Democrats, taking what was a tragic situation and politicizing it to meet his own twisted goals.

Although this outburst sickening, it proves that much like the authoritarian state of Oceania in Orwell’s dystopian world of 1984, Trump will say anything to make himself look better and to preserve his position of authority, even if it means crossing the line. Unsurprisingly, Trump’s tweet drew fire from Democrats and Republicans alike. But underlying the vociferous denunciations was the sad realization that this was the norm and that things are only going to get worse.

The reason this tweet is so concerning is not only because of the insensitive content, but also because it provides more insights into Trump’s ghastly character, painting him as an unstable, impulsive narcissist who makes questionable and outright poor decisions, such as when he seemed incapable of criticizing the Neo-Nazis and white supremacists after the Charlottesville protests, insisting that there were “good people on both sides.”

This is the person in charge of our international relations and trade, domestic policies, and the nuclear launch codes. Frankly, that’s not a little disquieting, especially in the context of the current controversy over Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court and the escalating trade war with China. Trump’s amorality may have served him well in the business world, but running a country and a company are worlds apart.

It’s important to remember that even though things seem bleak, as college students, we don’t always feel the full force of the administration’s capricious policies, the exception being specific policies targeting international students or students without established American citizenship, or policies affecting federal loans and financial aid. For the most part, the consequences of the government’s decisions manifest among the non-matriculating, working and middle-class citizens of America. But just because we are not directly affected doesn’t mean that we’re exempt from action.

We are lucky to be in such an insular atmosphere during a time rife with uncertainty and fear, but it’s equally important to remember that with that privilege comes responsibilities. Historically, colleges have been hotspots of progressive thinking and political activism, and we should do our best to educate ourselves about the State of the Union and the world. To that end, I encourage everyone to read literature from both sides of the political spectrum and to engage in the dying art of civil discourse, reaching across the chasm that our Congressional representatives seem incapable of bridging. Through understanding opposing perspectives, we can better discern fact from fiction and form our own educated judgments and conclusions about the news we encounter every day.

Political activism is the duty of every citizen because a democracy cannot stand on a foundation of ignorance. But activism doesn’t mean that we must have weekly protests over every single controversial issue; just the simple act of staying informed — and voting when elections roll around — is enough. After all, we are the future, and if we do our best to become worldly citizens who stand upon a foundation of truth, then our representatives will reflect our values and restore some much-needed honor and dignity to our politics.

The calendar says 2018. As a nation, let’s start acting like it.The calendar says 2018. As a nation, let’s start acting like it.

The calendar says 2018. As a nation, let’s start acting like it.