The third Monday of February celebrates the chief executive officer of the world’s super power. President’s Day is meant to honor the selfless hard work and allegiance of the U.S. president to the American people. It’s a day when citizens should take pride in the top leader representing us all. For the second year in a row, this is a holiday that brings feelings of disillusionment rather than a sense of fulfillment to a great number of citizens in this country.
It is true that it’s virtually impossible for all people to identify and feel connected to the same leader. In the instance of President Donald Trump, however, his lack of respect and commitment to fair representation has created a massive disconnect between his government and a good number of communities: ethnic and racial minorities, feminists, LGBTQ, non-Christians and environmentalists are just a few. While the economy shows signs of strength, the divide between communities has only continued to expand in the first year of his presidency.
Ethnic and racial minorities have perhaps felt the sting of Trump’s public remarks the hardest. It is comments like the president’s recent questioning of why we’re letting people from “s—hole countries” (referring to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations) migrate to the U.S. that broaden the divide. Trump’s history shows a particular obsession with disavowing dark-skinned immigrants–two more examples are his 2016 reference to Mexicans as “criminals and rapists” and his 2017 executive order halting refugee admissions and barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The president’s attacks against minorities have gone as far as criticizing prominent African Americans for being unpatriotic and insinuating Puerto Ricans were lazy when local government leaders asked for increased relief from the federal government after Hurricane Maria. The president has unapologetically associated himself with racists and white nationalists including Steve Bannon, his campaign head and later White house chief strategist. And the list goes on.
February is also the birth month of presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two of the most popular presidents in our history. In fact, President’s Day was established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington. With that in mind, how would these two prominent American figures respond to Trump’s presidency if they were still around?
Trump is proving to be the most unpopular president based on historical comparisons by Gallop. The average approval rating of presidents in the last 80 years was 53 percent, but Trump’s approval rating has been under 40 percent in the last few weeks. A recent poll by NBC and the Wall Street Journal had 38 percent of respondents describing their feelings about Trump’s first year in office as “disgusted” and 24 percent as “scared.” Another 23 percent said they felt “hopeful,” compared to 32 percent who expressed feeling “hopeful” after Trump’s presidential victory in 2016.
It’s important to remember that local and state civil engagement is just as important as voting for the presidential election. Early voting for the primary elections is February 20 – March 2. Official election day is Tuesday, Mar. 6. These elections are meant to nominate candidates from each political party at the state and county levels, which includes from U.S. senator to district clerk. General elections are November 6. Information about Travis County voting and more is available at votetravis.com.