Op-EdOpinionRev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.

JESSE JACKSON: Trump Succeeds in Trashing Civil Rights

The reviews of Donald Trump’s first 100 days have generally focused on his failures, flip-flops and follies. We’ve heard a lot about what he’s failed to achieve, but far too little about what he is intent on doing.

Trump’s time in office so far has been a systematic and vicious assault on civil rights. The progress that was won with struggle, sacrifice and legislation is being subverted by ink and administrative actions and deregulation. Trump is intent on rolling back the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, and in his first 100 days the damage has already begun.

He appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, a judge with a record of rulings undermining the rights of workers, women and the LGBTQ community, and protections of the environment and democracy.

Gorsuch, selected from a list provided by the far-right Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation, is so extreme that he was confirmed only after Republicans overturned the Senate’s long-established rules to get him confirmed with a mere majority. Gorsuch’s accession to the court now reconstitutes a five-person activist right-wing majority that will continue to undermine voting rights, worker rights and civil rights.

Trump appointed Jefferson Beauregard Sessions as his attorney general, a man who derides the Voting Rights Act as “intrusive” and celebrates the Shelby decision that undermined it. Sessions reversed the Justice Department’s position on Texas’ racially discriminatory voter ID law. He has reversed the commitment to phase out private for-profit prisons, and has moved to abandon vital police accountability measures that had bipartisan support. He’s threatening sanctuary cities while gearing up for mass deportations that would break up families and separate mothers from children.

Trump issued his Muslim travel ban, an executive order barring citizens of selected Muslim-majority nations from visiting the United States, although federal courts blocked it as an unconstitutional violation of religious freedom. Trump’s toxic rhetoric has been followed by an increase in hate crimes across the country.

To head the Department of Education, Trump appointed billionaire Betsy DeVos, who for years has devoted herself to undermining public schools and who defends deep cuts in everything from support for schools in poor neighborhoods to Pell grants that help the children of working families afford college.

Trump has given his economic policy over to former Goldman Sachs bankers, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Economic Council head Gary Cohn, and they have rolled out plans to give the very rich deep tax cuts that they will use to justify slashing programs vital to working people, including Medicaid, education and even Meals on Wheels.

Trump has stacked his cabinet with committed opponents of the missions of the very departments they head: Scott Pruitt at EPA, Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development, Rick Perry at Energy, Alex Acosta at Labor.

Trump has signed 13 resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act overturning Obama-era regulations, including the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order that required federal contractors to pay their workers a living wage and to obey workplace safety regulations.

Trump continues to assert the lie that there was mass voting fraud in 2016, setting the stage for more efforts to restrict voting, particularly for people of color and the young.

This list could go on — and, as Trump has said, 100 days is only the beginning.

We have big challenges in this country. We have to make this economy work for working people. We have to rescue the democracy from the corruptions of big money. We have to address catastrophic climate change before it is too late. We have to stop fighting endless wars abroad and begin rebuilding at home. We have to make it easier, not harder for people to register and vote. In each of these areas and more, Trump is headed the wrong way.

Yes, some of his efforts have failed, but he is already doing damage to the common good.

Keep up with Rev. Jackson and the work of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at www.rainbowpush.org.

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