[Update: Sorry all, there was content in this post when it was published the first time– then it mysteriously disappeared.]
The Republican party did not exactly win many points yesterday. First, the Senate found itself–mercifully– incapable of repealing (without replacing) the Affordable Care Act. Then, the President, in the midst of an ongoing battle with his “beleaguered” Attorney General and a Russian investigation that is turning up more incriminating evidence by the day, decided inexplicably that a 37 percent approval rating wasn’t quite low enough and elected to do the seemingly impossible: make himself less popular.
In his usual fashion, President Trump began yesterday with an early-morning tweet storm in which he declared his intention to reverse an Obama-era policy that would allow transgender service personnel to serve openly in the United States Armed Forces. His reasoning: the “tremendous cost” of providing medical care to transgender people who volunteer to serve their country is simply too high. (Fact-checkers were quick to point out that the military spends five times as much on erectile dysfunction drugs than the cost of providing comprehensive care to these–at most– 15,000 individuals.)
This decision seemed to come rather rapidly, indicating one of two potential motives: either the President was hoping to distract from the Russian investigation by drawing the ire of his detractors in a new direction (which was somewhat effective, as thousands took to the streets across the country in protest), or he hoped to ignite the party base with a “victory” that could be won with nothing more than a signature on an executive order. In that objective, it appears he has failed. Several GOP legislators– including Orrin Hatch, President pro tempore of the Senate– have voiced their disapproval of the decision. More intriguingly, high-ranking members of the United States armed forces have pushed back against the announcement as well, up to and including several of the defense chiefs.
So, again, the President finds himself caught between warring factions: the more moderate among his party who find the choice to dehumanize thousands of people who volunteered their lives in service to their country–or who would like to in the future– and the extremists who feel this act is both too little and too late. This, it seems, is the crux of every issue, the cause of every failure of the republican party to achieve its platform in spite of controlling the Presidency and both houses of the legislature. While the GOP waxes poetic about the democratic party being hopelessly divided, the liberals remain united in platform and in voting patterns– something the republicans cannot seem to achieve irrespective of circumstance.
In the meantime, it is important to recognize that a tweet from the President does not equate to actual policy. An executive order has not yet surfaced, nor have any attempts to legislate the fate of transgender troops begun in Congress. This may yet be another flash in the pan, not unlike the executive order to bolster the coal industry. It would be more useful, however, to assume that this plan will proceed and put our full efforts towards resisting it accordingly. While contacting representatives may or may not make a difference in terms of the enactment of this policy, it is important nonetheless to make our voices heard: every legislator who speaks out against this policy increases the odds that the President will decide it is more trouble than its worth. Much as he is inclined to dismiss his dismal poll ratings and the voices of dissidents as “fake news,” he cannot be unaware of the precariousness of his position. The lower the President’s approval rating, the higher the chances of impeachment, particularly as the Russian investigation continues to unfold.
So, let us make it known that trans* rights are human rights, and that trans* service-people deserve nothing less than the full breadth of gratitude, respect, and access to care that we as a nation can provide.
— This is the ALF, signing off.