Until this week it was possible to say that nothing has really materially changed for most people under the Donald Trump administration.
That's because they are not directly impacted by the immigration bans, or by the reduction in the total number of entrants here, or by the ending the visa lottery system, or by the reduction in the ability of current US residents to bring their relatives here, or even by his cruelly ending the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, stranding tens of thousands.
Most people probably haven't noticed yet how the Trump administrations relentless drive to chip away at the foundation of Obamacare is actually driving up premiums for all of us. These things take time.
I wonder how many people have noticed how the Trump administration's scrapping of federal rules mandating the cleanup of pollutants from fossil fuels is playing out? I suspect they haven't paid much attention to the Trump administration plans to destroy the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument, which is filled with sacred Native American sites, and which represents an unparalleled assault on the tribal communities there as well as on their freedom to practice religion. Well it's the wrong religion isn't it, so it hardly matters.
People haven't been concerned at all that the Trump administration is ignoring the concerns of Native American tribes in a rush to green light the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline (they haven't bothered themselves to worry about the lamentable destructive force of the leaks that always come from these giant constructions either).
People haven't noticed that the overall US trade deficit last November was $50.5 billion, the largest in five years, or that the total mark for 2017 reached a five-year highs as well. Figures that unsettling are hard to comprehend when most people in America are paying out more than they take in each month.
The world took note with horror of Trump's unnecessary and indefensible withdrawal from the Paris agreement on climate change, but we in America mostly didn't. We looked the other way.
People here shrugged and looked away after each horrifying assault rifle massacre after which Trump failed to offer any new bill to take them off our streets, and failed to even offer his condolences to the affected families (instead he and the Vice President Mike Pence attended the NRA convention, where all guns are banned, to offer a high five to the gun manufacturers and their acolytes).
People haven't noticed that the Trump administration signed an executive order this month that creates a new, unprecedentedly powerful “Faith Office.” This means that for the first time in the history of the United States the religious freedom of faith-based organizations will be enhanced and protected under the law, but ordinary citizens will be on their own. In other words, it's the evangelicals who will have rights and protections, not the people that criticize them.
The first amendment of the United States Constitution bluntly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” but people haven't noticed that the separation of church and state has simply disappeared under the Trump administration. White evangelicals accounted for over 80 percent of Trump's voters and this new “faith office” with its unprecedented powers is simply their payback. Expect them to use it.
People haven't noticed how Trump's foreign policy decisions are taking a sledgehammer to decades of American diplomacy, scrapping multilateral agreements and slapping our closest allies with trade tariffs.
Last week even Trump's most monumental decision on the world stage to date slipped by without much commentary: his withdrawal of the United States from the historic 2015 Iran nuclear deal, damaging out international credibility (we go back on deals) and risking turning the Middle East into a terrifying pandora's box. Iran can say it kept it's side of the deal, but America can not be trusted, having gone back on its word. North Korea will soon be saying likewise. It's a disastrous turn of events.
But here now finally is the one issue that no one on earth can say the Trump administration hasn't transformed dramatically in our times. On the same day Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem this week, Israeli forces shot and killed 55 people in Gaza, wounding literally thousands.
As our unelected officials Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner represented the United States at a flashy ceremony to unveil the new embassy in Jerusalem this week, Gaza erupted in smoke and carnage, with Israeli drones dropping teargas on the crowds and the military opening fire.
The Israeli use of excessive force and live ammunition to repel unarmed people shocked the entire world. Yet there were our unelected Trump officials, unarguably taking the Israeli side (and inviting Pastor Robert Jeffress, who has called Islam “a heresy from the pit of hell,” to give the opening prayer) and surrendering our claim to honest broker-ship in the region.
Of all the unwise decisions taken by this uniquely thoughtless administration, the decision to surrender over half a century's worth of American diplomacy in the Middle East is the one that will cast the most consequential and dangerous shadow. It has put us all in peril.