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Two Chilling Takeaways from Week One of the Trump Presidency

 

One week into the Trump presidency makes clear two chilling takeaways.

“First, the real power in the Trump administration lies with officials bearing extreme nativist world views and ties to the anti-immigrant and white nationalist movements,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund.  

“And second, Trump and his nativist allies fully intend to follow through on their radical agenda issued by executive edict.  This looks more like an autocracy than a democracy,” continued Tramonte.

From the immigration executive order that lays out a blueprint for the mass deportation of millions, to the cruel and unconstitutional Muslim and refugee ban, the Trump presidency is already doing violence to America’s interests and best traditions.

Tramonte continued: “Instead of government of the people, by the people, and for the people, it’s government by the Breitbart comments section and a small band of anti-immigrant extremists who have seized the reins of power to a chilling extent.”

Just scan the coverage of the Trump Administration in the past few days and it becomes clear who is calling the shots, as well as why that should terrify all Americans.

Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart executive and newly-implanted member of the National Security Council, has consolidated power in such a brazen fashion that The New York Times editorial board today noted, “Mr. Bannon is positioning himself not merely as a Svengali but as the de facto president.”

Senator and Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, whom the Washington Post labeled the “intellectual godfather of the president’s policies,” also is the favorite Senator for followers of white nationalists on Twitter, per a new analysis.

And Stephen Miller, the former Sessions staffer who wrote the immigration and refugee/Muslim ban executive orders, is not only close with Sen. Sessions, but also someone for whom white nationalist Richard Spencer served as a “mentor” while the two overlapped at Duke University. As Spencer said of his relationship with Miller, “I spent a lot of time with him at Duke… I hope I expanded his thinking.”

As the Wall Street Journal reports, the Bannon/Sessions/Miller trio is clashing with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary General John Kelly, largely because they want to appoint the radical Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (author of failed “show me your papers” immigration state laws in Arizona and Alabama and the most sweeping voter restrictions in the country) to the second-in-command perch at DHS.

And the nativist power trio also wants to ensure that the DACA program for Dreamers is cut as part of their mass deportation push. As the Washington Post reports,

“Hard-line conservatives have been urging Trump to rescind DACA, while other advisers, including [pro-Trump strategist Newt] Gingrich, are counseling him to keep it in place and avoid a politically treacherous confrontation, according to people involved in the deliberations.

‘Why pick a fight over this group of people who have a lot of emotional stories to tell? It’s not realistic. It’s not practical,’ Gingrich said. ‘I strongly agree with the general direction we’re going, but I think this particular fight doesn’t emotionally make any sense.’”

Taking stock of both the radicalism and consolidation of power by extremists, conservative columnist David Brooks sums up what is at stake:

[T]he Trump administration is not a Republican administration; it is an ethnic nationalist administration … With most administrations you can agree sometimes and disagree other times. But this one is a danger to the party and the nation in its existential nature. And so sooner or later all will have to choose what side they are on, and live forever after with the choice.”

Concluded Tramonte, “We have taken Donald Trump literally and at his word ever since he descended down that escalator and began his campaign by slandering immigrants and scapegoating Mexicans. He is now running his White House the same way he ran the campaign: full of hatred, lies, and xenophobia. For anyone who naively hoped the presidency – or his advisors – might moderate or tame his worst impulses, this past week should put the lie to that sentiment.  Add this to the fact that Trump’s inner circle seems to have no concept of the fact that that other branches of government exist – or what the Founding Fathers meant by ‘checks and balances’ – and it’s clear that the Americans who believe in America need to stand up and fight back.”