by Sarah Whitman
No seriously... what’s happening right now? It’s been a crazy few weeks between the government shutdown, the transgender troops ban, and the Covington Catholic school controversy. So we’re here to catch you up and help you figure out what exactly is going on with American politics.
We are officially in day 34 of the government shutdown. For more information on what a government shutdown is and how we got here, check out our first blog post about the whole debacle. Basically, Trump and key Republicans in Congress want $5.7 billion to fund a border wall while Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader Schumer, and the Democrats are saying hell to the no. This triggered the current government shutdown, causing 800,000 Americans to be furloughed from their jobs without pay. Some government workers, like TSA agents and the Coast Guard, are still required to work despite the lack of funds. These workers are about to miss their second paycheck...it’s all pretty messed up.
Trump is not budging on his wall, and the Democrats are not willing to pay for a structure that has been proven numerous times to have no effect on illegal immigration and drug smuggling. Plus, the only Republican Congressman with a district on the border is against the wall. Trump is using American workers as a pawn in his game to follow through on a campaign pipe dream - one that’s having a detrimental impact on federal employees, Americans who rely on government services to survive, and the economy as a whole.
UPDATE: President Trump has agreed to reopen the government for three weeks while negotiations continue. This agreement does not include funding for a border wall. Congress and the President will have three weeks to come to an agreement on funding for border security.
To take action against another shutdown and a border wall, text ACT SHUTDOWN to 52886.
The State of the Union
A quick refresh: the State of the Union is a speech given by the President each January that, well, tells Americans the state of our union. The President goes in depth about what was accomplished the year before and the policy initiatives for the upcoming year. The holdup this year? The Speaker of the House (that’s our gal Nancy) traditionally invites the President to speak on the House floor. Nancy did a big nope and told Trump that he was not invited to speak for security reasons (subtext: no one’s getting paid so there’s not enough protection with the entire line of succession under one roof). Trump, of course, threw a fit, but Pelosi didn’t cave and Trump will not be delivering the State of the Union on the previously agreed upon date. (We love you, Nancy).
Military Ban on Transgender Troops
On Tuesday, January 22nd the Supreme Court ruled that the ban on transgender people enlisting in the military could begin. Let’s rewind: In 2017, Trump tweeted that the government would no longer allow transgender people to serve at all in the army because they are a medical burden and a disruption (a ban that was previously in place but lifted by Obama in 2016).
In 2018, the Trump administration put out a formal policy that banned transgender individuals from serving, which was immediately sent to the courts to see if it was legal and constitutional. However, on Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued their order that temporarily enacted this ban. Not gonna lie, this sucks, but hope is not lost. The ban is still going through the lower courts and could be ruled unconstitutional or legislators could pass a law that makes the ban illegal.
To take action and stop the ban, text ACT TROOPS to 52886.
Covington Catholic High School
You probably saw the video from last weekend of a boy in a MAGA hat having some sort of standoff with a Native American man beating a drum. The video went viral and sparked outrage as it seemed that the boy and his classmates were intruding on the Indigenous People’s March and being culturally insensitive to this Native American veteran, Nathan Phillips, and his people. However, more footage came to light that showed another group of men who call themselves the Black Hebrew Israelites (a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center) taunting the high school boys, shouting homophobic profanities and calling them inappropriate names. The boys and the school came back saying that they had felt tension on the scene, and Nick Sandmann, the boy in question, was trying to keep calm.
Basically, we don’t know exactly what happened. The Black Hebrew Israelites shouldn’t have been screaming at the boys (or anyone for that matter), the boys should not have been making fun of the Native American drum, and neither Nick Sandmann nor Nathan Phillips should have been staring each other down in a faux standoff. The media is so quick to publish a story, often with tempting clickbait headlines, that we don’t get the full picture of what happens. Whatever went down, we’ll just leave this here: the MAGA hat has become more than just a hat. It has become a symbol for everything the Trump administration stands for, which is vitriol toward women, minorities, indigenous people, LGBTQ+ people, and immigrants.
Finally, on MLK Day, Kamala Harris became the 8th Democrat to enter into the 2020 election, along with Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, Julian Castro, Andrew Yang, John Delaney, Richard Ojeda, and Kirsten Gillibrand. We’re still waiting on people like Joe Biden, John Hickenlooper, John Kerry, and Sherrod Brown to decide if they’re going to run, but it’s shaping up to be an interesting race already.
So that’s the scoop. If you’ve made it this far go pour yourself a glass of wine because you did it, friend. You made it. Now go take a well-deserved break, and we’ll see you tomorrow.