By Kristen Harris
I don’t think anyone really expected Donald Trump to be elected President. Like Harambe, his candidacy seemed to be a joke that we carried too far. However, around 3 a.m. on November 9, millions across the country groaned in agony as America became the country that elected a former reality star as its leader.
Like many who voted against Trump, I began to fear for my country as our final decision was announced. However, rather than letting negativity consume me, I decided to find out out exactly what a Trump presidency means for the country that I love.
As it turns out, the results of this election may not mean the end of the world after all.
Donald Trump was just one of many candidates who have run on a platform of promises that can’t be kept. Politifact keeps track of the campaign promises that Presidents break. President Obama fell short of his promise to create one million manufacturing jobs by the end of this year. He didn’t increase the tax rate for higher-income taxpayers, either.
Nevertheless, Obama’s shortcomings didn’t necessarily make him an ineffective President. In the beginning of his first term, he orchestrated peace talks between Israel and Palestine, which earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 2016. He has also increased accessibility to healthcare, championed equality and made important advancements in the War on Terror.
Donald Trump’s shortcomings will not limit his ability to govern. Even a man with a tower bearing his name can’t get everything he wants.
Reporting on the campaign promises that Trump won’t be able to fully follow through with, the BBC said that Trump’s infamous wall most likely will not be the grand fortress he envisioned. Rather, in his first interview as president-elect, Trump said that parts of his wall may be a fence instead.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich also said that the promise of making Mexico pay for the wall was a “great campaign device.” Considering the fact that the wall as Trump envisioned comes with a $20 billion price tag, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will be willing to pay for it.
In the same vein as Trump’s wall vision is his immigration policy. Though he at first declared he was going to deport all 11 million undocumented workers, he has since backed down to concentrate his efforts on those with criminal records, such as drug-dealers and gang members.
In a recent interview, he lowered his number to between two and three million. However, this is still a significant jump from the government’s report of 180,000 undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions.
In order to deport as many workers as he says he wants to, Trump would have to add some serious beef to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Currently, the agency can process about 400,000 undocumented immigrants a year, making it difficult for the future President to add up his numbers correctly.
President-elect Trump may have thought he had a clever anti-terrorism plan in mind when he said that he was going to bar all Islamic immigrants from entering the US, but this rash declaration came off to many as racist and ignorant. However, when he was asked about this policy on Capitol Hill a few days after the election, CNN reported that Trump seemed to hear the question but didn’t answer, instead thanking his supporters before he walked away. The so-called “Muslim ban” has also been removed from Trump’s website.
Another of Trump’s most controversial platform points was his plan to repeal Obamacare. However, the BBC reported that because this would leave millions of Americans without health insurance, Trump has said he may be more interested in reforming Obamacare instead.
One of Trump’s claims that scared his opposers the most was his promise to overturn the Supreme Court’s decisions legalizing same-sex marriage and abortion. Because of the president-elect’s rather vocal opposition to both issues, many who have benefited from the landmark decisions made concerning Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 and Roe v. Wade in 1973 worried that the rights they’d fought so hard for were going to be taken away.
However, a Supreme Court decision can only be overturned in two ways: either the SCOTUS makes a new decision, or Congress makes an amendment to the Constitution. The President has little say in either.
The only way that Trump could influence a new Supreme Court decision is through whoever he appoints to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Scalia. However, he can only appoint someone to fill this empty seat if the current Senate continues to delay voting on President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick B. Garland.
When it comes to amending the Constitution, the President has no role in the process. New amendments must pass both the House and the Senate with a two-thirds majority vote. They must also be ratified by three-fourths of the states. However, considering Republicans only have control of both houses of Congress by slight margins, passing such a controversial amendment would be nearly impossible.
What it comes down to is this: President Trump does not have unlimited power. He cannot get everything that he wants or follow through with every single promise he ran his campaign on because of the checks and balances put in place by the Constitution. Maybe our country’s founders saw the future when they designed a system that limited the powers of the President, Congress, and Supreme Court. Maybe they were just protecting themselves from the kind of government they were afraid of.
You don’t have to be afraid of a Trump presidency, though. Like those who fought for our country in its infancy, you can stand up for your own rights and for what you want. However, instead of burning flags and hightailing it to Canada, you should become more politically active. Do something that’s really going to make a difference.
Write a letter to your members of Congress reminding them of the people they were chosen to represent. Stand by your friends who fear for their families and their futures. Use VolunteerMatch.org to find local opportunities to help immigrants learn to read or speak English. Donate to organizations such as Hope for Syria and the International Rescue Committee to help those affected by the refugee crisis. Next time around, vote in the primaries. Vote at both the state and local level.
Rather than being afraid, be active. Make your voice heard above the political pandemonium. Most importantly, as Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech, remember that we “owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”