For many years, I have been in the habit of starting my morning in the same way each day: eating a bowl of plain yogurt with fruit and granola and reading the overnight news that has accumulated in my blog reader or news app. It wasn’t until Trump became president that I seriously considered putting an end to this ritual. You see, living in Seoul, when you read the news in the morning, you’re actually catching up on everything that happened during the previous day in the United States. So it can be a little overwhelming to be bombarded with a full day’s news cycle all at once. Now that Trump is president, I tend to start most of my mornings being either frustrated or fearful. Not a fun way to begin the day.
However, I still read the news every morning, and 10 minutes of reading articles and headlines this morning made me so angry, I need to write. I’m not writing this morning to change people’s minds or spread well-sourced information. In fact, I’m certain this post will not inspire any change. I’m simple writing this morning for me.
Here’s the sequence of news stories that started my day:
1. From MPR – Trump misses his old life and realizes the presidency is harder than he thought it would be. “I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters in an interview. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”
2. From The New York Times – Trump signed a new executive order that opens the door to relax regulations on offshore drilling and ease protections on marine sanctuaries.
Followed by this from The Washington Post – “A federal court on Friday granted the Trump administration’s request to suspend lawsuits against the Clean Power Plan rule, signaling the likely end of President Barack Obama’s signature climate policy.”
These actions are just the latest in a variety of other Trump EOs that will have lasting impacts on the environment.
3. From The Korea Herald – Trump decided to announce in a general interview with Reuters that he thinks South Korea now needs to pay for the THAAD missile defense system that the U.S. already agreed to pay for in previous negotiations. South Korea has a presidential election coming up on May 9, and you can bet this comment is going to have an impact on the conversations between the candidates.
Here’s more analysis on the issue from The Washington Post:
Trump’s remarks come at a particularly sensitive time on the Korean Peninsula: Not only have tensions with North Korea risen to their highest level in years, but South Koreans are heading to the polls next month and could elect a president who opposes Trump on key issues.
“So far the reaction in South Korea to all these things that Mr. Trump has said has been surprisingly restrained, but I think that’s because South Koreans are still trying to figure out what kind of character he is,” said David Straub, a former U.S. diplomat dealing with the Koreas and author of the book “Anti-Americanism in Democratizing South Korea.”
“They know he’s an unusual president and they’re discounting a lot of what he says, but eventually remarks like these will have a serious effect,” Straub said.
So, let me try to explain why these stories in particular have me so upset. First, Trump continues to pick away at environmental protections, and there seems to be very little that can be done to stop him. I’m hopeful that there will be legal options once concrete actions are taken, but I’m uncertain. More importantly, his consistent prioritizing of “jobs” over the environment is wearing on me. He does not seem to be open to the possibility that the government can support both at the same time. Consider this article from Business Insider that points out that jobs in wind energy are growing at a faster rate than those in the fossil fuel industry, and, “…the solar industry now employs more people than coal, oil, and gas combined.”
Secondly, these off-hand comments that Trump continues to throw around regarding foreign policy might be seen as inconsequential to people living in the U.S., but for residents of the countries he’s addressing, his tendency to speak without thinking has real impact. Residing as an expat in South Korea, I’m experiencing what it’s like to live at the whims of U.S. presidential pronouncements. During the campaign, Trump said he wasn’t sure if the U.S. should continue to support South Korea because it was too costly. Then he changed his mind, and now it appears he’s changing his mind again. He and his advisors have yet to articulate a clear policy on North Korea, in just the past few days vacillating between tougher sanctions discussed in the 100 senator meeting and the following set of inflammatory musings by the president himself, 2 days later, once again presented in an interview and not as part of an official position statement (from “The Guardian”):
“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” Trump told Reuters.
“We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult,” the president added.
On top of all of this, add to the fact that Trump doesn’t really seem to like being President of the United States and the job is harder than he expected. The fact that he admitted this really doesn’t inspire much confidence that he even knows what he’s doing when he signs these executive orders or spouts off about foreign policy. His actions are having real impacts on a global scale, affecting individual lives and entire countries. The fact that an uninformed, uninspired, and under-prepared man has this much power angers and frightens me.
And now it’s time to finish my breakfast.