by Tanya Harrington
It’s been a tumultuous Summer for the United States, with enough political back-and-forth to give any onlooker whiplash. Staff have circulated in and out of the White House like children on a merry-go-round of public mishaps and disappointment. There have been fires and hurricanes and floods, protests and counter-protests, statements made and taken back, opinions tweeted and deleted.
There is a lot to recap – they say a week is a long time in politics, and we’ve had the whole Summer off.
Let’s start with the White House staff. The rise and fall of Anthony Scaramucci was a quick one, with his arrival to the White House, public meltdown, and subsequent firing all taking place within ten short days. During his limited time as communications director, he managed to ensure the loss of Sean Spicer, who seemingly resigned in protest to his appointment, White House aide Michael Short, and perhaps even chief of staff Reince Priebus, who was fired by the President. Funnily enough, it was Priebus’ replacement who ended up finishing Scaramucci.
There were multiple controversial proposals made, a notable one being the move to ban transgender people from serving in the military – which the President revealed via Twitter. Preceding this was an attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), with no real replacement form of health insurance help included in the package. If the bill had passed, there was the potential for it to leave as many as twenty-two million Americans without proper health insurance.
Although healthcare and progressive values might not be doing so hot, the war and conflict business continues to boom. Tensions rose between North Korea and the States as the former took to developing their nuclear arsenal and Trump took to Twitter, threatening “fire and fury,” in retaliation to any threats. As well as this, the President also committed more troops to Afghanistan, while encouraging other NATO allies to do the same.
Civil disrupt emerged, fuelled by a movement to remove Confederate statues from areas in America. The most notable of these was in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Heather Heyer, in attendance at a counter-protest to a neo-Nazi rally, was murdered. These events sparked international debate over moral differences between groups of protestors, such as Nazis and Antifa, and whether or not the removal of Confederate statues could be considered as an erasure of history.
President Trump was accused by some of handling the several natural disasters, from forest fires to hurricanes and flooding, across America badly – especially Hurricane Harvey, which left huge parts of Texas almost entirely underwater, and a death toll that officials speculate could be as high as 82. These disasters also sparked a fierce climate change debate, as many initiatives led by the Trump administration have caused a decrease in climate change regulation, and many in America dispute the effects of climate change entirely. Bids for funding to help rebuild and recover the affected areas are in place.
Although we are in the UK, it is important for us as students to remain informed and develop our own opinions on all of these matters, the repercussions of which will likely follow us into the Autumn Semester and beyond.