I hope everyone made it out to vote the other day. It may not have been such a high-drama Tuesday as it was last year but it has passed us by none the less. For me, the tail end of last year's election day just slid past again this week. Like many, I wasn't thrilled with the country's decision to let a man of questionable character and infinity infantile experience take the till of the ship and steer, but I wanted to see how we would change as a people after the results were tallied.
Rather, I wanted to see how much we remembered.
You see, I'm becoming more and more convinced that a major part of the problem we're facing in this country is due to a lack of long-term memory. As I've stated before, I remember the cheers and the pride as we began the War on Terror and I remember the disapproval and the flip flopping on the subject a few years later. I remember being one of them and I felt the potential for something similar percolating in the country after last Election Day. So I asked for folks to put some things on record.
I took to the ever-present Facebook and posted an open invitation to anyone on either side of the aisle to predict what Donald Trump would actually accomplish during his term. Lo and behold, I didn't get a very good sampling…perhaps because the post wasn't angry or divisive enough for it to really get much traffic. But my intention was to review it in a year's time and each year after that.
Now here we are.
We're not even a year into the presidency, but let's take a look at the progress so far. Some predictions were more abstract than others, so I'll hit the highlights for you.
Right off the bat, my veteran friend Jeremy said most of Trump's campaign promises would fall by the wayside after he was officially briefed on security matters. It's difficult to say how that one played out, but there have been some promises he hasn't kept. The words, "Lock her up" come to mind.
Another of my high school classmates, Darcy, said she felt there was a chance Planned Parenthood would lose its funding while Trump occupied to Oval Office. As it turned out, there was a bill that was introduced but it wasn't passed. I'd call that prediction somewhat accurate, although it was somewhat hedged to begin with.
My childhood neighbor Luke said he expected the national debt to pass $25 trillion under Trump while unemployment would remain high but not surpass a percentile in the double digits. The national debt indeed continues to rise, clearing $20 trillion this fall and unemployment was at 4.1 percent this October, which is just shy of a percent less than it was in April of 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Socially, Luke was confident decisions like Roe v. Wade and same sex marriage rights wouldn't be reversed. Well, the newest judge on the United States Supreme Court seems to agree. He said he understood the Roe v. Wade ruling to be the law of the land. Marriage rights on the other hand had a few more headlines in hand. Congress was actually working on a bill to change marriage language to remove terms like "husband" and "wife" in favor or "spouse" and similar inclusive terms. The state of North Carolina on the other hand, attempted to ban same sex marriage, but the bill didn't go anywhere.
Both Luke and another friend of mine, Ben, expected Congress to eventually repeal the Affordable Care Act, but legislators have failed to do so several times now, which I suppose supports my neighbor's belief the Republican Party would deliver a "do-nothing Congress."
Ben said he expected China, for all Trump's talk, to remain unchanged. Now, on the one hand, some agricultural markets have opened up in China, according to our legislators. On the other hand, Trump did back away from his promise to label China a currency manipulator — but then, I personally didn't believe Mitt Romney was going to do it either if he got elected. Ben also didn't believe a President Trump would pull military support away from allied Japan. Candidate Trump made a point of saying allies should pay their fair share for such things, but now he's tweaked his position to a more salesmanly stance, saying Japan should buy its weapons from the U.S.
Then there's the wall. Ben was skeptical the wall would be built or that mass deportations would take place. So far neither have, but prototype wall segments have been developed. My own cousin Kyle on the other hand, anticipated increased funding for the border wall. Trump signed an executive order earlier this year, calling for the development of long-term funding for the wall. Then, the House Homeland Security Committee approved a $10 billion bill for the wall.
You may ask why I'm rehashing these things. I will reiterate. It's because we forget. We forget what our leaders promised us. We forget our disbelief or our loyalty — depending on which quadruped we affiliate ourselves — and we fully assimilate our minds to the current conditions. We forget the past and we eat the breadcrumbs we left as we wove our way through the forest of cabinet confirmations, public statements and the tweets coming from the highest branch in the grove. We need to remember the path we took. We need to see patterns forming and we need to recall more than just the past four years.