Tag Archives: Trump administration

Mark Pocan: Fighting Trump to save eight years of hard-won progress

The end of Obama’s presidency leaves the LGBTQ community at a crossroads. While it remains to be seen whether the next president will rollback protections and civil rights for our community, the track record of the Republican party and Donald Trump’s recent Cabinet appointments do not give me confidence.

The president-elect, and many of the people he is surrounding himself with, have shown apathy and even contempt for LGBTQ people, women, people of color and immigrants. The radically conservative agenda they are proposing unfairly targets so many communities that have struggled to achieve equality. As an LGBTQ elected official and a proud member of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, I am on the frontline of the battle to save the eight years of hard-won progress that is now in danger – and I will embrace that role.

The LGBTQ community intersects with all other communities, spanning every demographic group. We are all genders, races and members of every religious community. We come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, levels of education and hold different systems of belief.

When our community is under attack, everyone is under attack. This is why it is important we begin to operate in unison with a shared mission and vision to fight anti-equality efforts.

Together, we must fight to make sure employers cannot discriminate against anyone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity — in Wisconsin or anywhere in our country. I am incredibly proud that Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to protect people based on sexual orientation, yet 34 years after that landmark bill was signed, we have yet to protect transgender people from being fired from their jobs or denied service at a grocery store, simply because of who they are.

This injustice extends to the majority of states in our nation, and the absence of a federal law makes the LGBTQ community incredibly vulnerable. This is just one of many equality issues we expected to address in Congress next year, but now seems in peril given the election results.

There is still progress that needs to be made, and we cannot allow the momentum we gained over the past eight years to falter.

It is now more apparent than ever that LGBTQ representation in elected positions at every level of government matters. With this election, we now have 500 out and proud elected officials in the country. The support of allies is invaluable, but it cannot replace the understanding of a lived experience — knowing what it’s like to be denied relationship recognition or being targeted for violence because you are holding your partner’s hand. LGBTQ elected officials understand the gravity of these issues, so in this post-election uncertainty, we are coming together to use our collective power to effectively oppose efforts to target the rights of the LGBTQ community or any other community.

The fight won’t be easy — but know that as your Congress member, I will be an outspoken and relentless voice for equality regardless of who is in the White House, and I will do everything I can to protect our progress in the coming months and years.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan represents Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District

Trump appointments signal national security hard line

If there was any doubt about whether Donald Trump meant business with his hard-line campaign pronouncements on immigration, race, terrorism and more, the president-elect went a long way to dispel them Friday with his first appointments to his national security team and at the Justice Department.

It wasn’t just talk.

Trump’s trifecta in selecting Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for national security adviser and Rep. Mike Pompeo to lead the CIA sent a strong message that Americans are going to get what they voted for in electing a Republican whose campaign talk about national security matters largely toggled between tough and tougher.

There has been ongoing mystery about what to expect in a Trump presidency: Even some of Trump’s own supporters wrote off some of his more provocative campaign comments. Trump’s own policy statements have zigged and zagged depending on the audience. And his first two appointments to the White House staff — GOP Chairman Reince Priebus as chief of staff and onetime Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon as a senior adviser — sent a mixed message with the choice of an establishment figure and a flame-throwing outsider.

But Friday’s picks offered a concrete indication that Trump’s presidency may in fact be headed sharply to the right on issues of national security.

“If you believe in personnel as policy, it’s pretty clear where the arrows are pointing,” says Calvin Mackenzie, a presidential scholar at Colby College in Maine.

Princeton historian Julian Zelizer says the three choices all represent conservative figures with track records in government, not “wildly out-of-the-box people who don’t even come from the world of politics.”

“That’s a message not just about him following through on his campaign promises, but it’s about partisanship,” says Zelizer. “He’s giving a signal to the Republicans to stick with him because he’ll deliver.”

Trump still has plenty of big appointments yet to make, including secretary of state, that could telegraph other directions. And Congress, too, will have a say in setting national security policy.

Trump’s three latest all have sharply differed with Obama administration policy:

  • Sessions, the Alabama senator and former federal prosecutor, is known for his tough stance on immigration enforcement. He’s questioned whether terrorism suspects should get the protection of the U.S. court system, opposes closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and has highlighted concerns about voting fraud, which the Obama administration sees as a non-issue. He has said Obama’s counterterrorism policies have “emboldened our enemies” and those concerned about warrantless wiretaps have “exaggerated the extent to which this is somehow violative of our Constitution.” His appointment to a federal judgeship in 1986 fell through after he was accused of making racially charged statements while U.S. attorney in Alabama.
  • Pompeo, the three-term congressman from Kansas, is an outspoken opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, has said NSA leaker Edward Snowden is a traitor who deserves the death sentence and has said Muslim leaders are “potentially complicit” in terrorist attacks if they do not denounce violence carried out in the name of Islam.
  • Flynn stepped down as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in April 2014 and said he’d been forced out because he disagreed with Obama’s approach to combatting extremism. Critics said he’d mismanaged the agency. Flynn has pressed for a more aggressive U.S. campaign against the Islamic State group, and favors working more closely with Russia.

The three appointments sync up with messages that Trump voters sent in the exit polls on Election Night.

Trump’s backers put a higher priority on addressing terrorism and immigration than did Clinton’s supporters. Three-fourths of them said the U.S. was doing very badly or somewhat badly at dealing with IS. Just 2 in 10 thought blacks are treated unfairly in the U.S. criminal justice system. Three-fourths backed building a wall on the southern border to control illegal immigration.

Trump’s positions, meanwhile, have gone through different iterations, continue to evolve and still have big gaps.

On immigration, his views have arrived at a policy that sounds much like Washington as usual. The approach he sketched out in a post-election interview on 60 Minutes would embrace the Obama administration’s push to deport the most serious criminals who are in the U.S. illegally as well as the call by many Republican lawmakers to secure the border before considering any legal status for those who’ve committed immigration violations but otherwise lived lawfully. He even pulled back a bit on his vaunted southern wall, suggesting a fence may be enough for part of it.

Trump the campaigner also moved away from his inflammatory vow to freeze the entry of foreign Muslims into the U.S., settling late in the race on “extreme” vetting of immigrants from countries and regions plagued by violent radicalism.

He’s vowed to crush the Islamic State group, but he won’t say how.

Trump has also said he believes in enhanced interrogation techniques, which can include waterboarding and other types of torture that are against the law and that many experts argue are ineffective.

Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on Friday dismissed Trump’s comments about waterboarding as the talk of a “first-time neophyte running for office.”

“Water-boarding coming back, I find that hard to believe,” he said.

Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Calvin Woodward contributed to this report.