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An Enigmatic Ban

August 18, 2017

Somehow in modern America, “It’s politics” has become a common excuse or “explanation” for cruel policy decisions. President Donald Trump’s recent decision to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military illuminates the utter wrongness of this kind of explanation.

On July 26, the President tweeted, “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming … victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

This isn’t politics. It’s Trump politics. Throughout the overwhelming majority of American history, presidents – liberal and conservative, Republican and Democratic – have made political decisions with utmost sincerity and gravitas. Trump’s campaign promise of an “American-first” administration has been shattered by his proven willingness to undermine the pillars of American society, by his complete abandonment of human decency.

To further the already-blatant hypocrisy, Trump’s yearning for an “America-first President” reputation is tarnished by the very nature of his decision – to ban Americans from serving in the American military. Time after time, Trump has revealed his great ability to contradict himself, his promises, while simultaneously compromising the welfare of thousands of Americans with his capricious, self-interested decision-making. This is nothing new from Trump, and it shouldn’t be seen as such. Attempting to exempt President Trump from moral judgement on “political” grounds would be to set a gross, dangerous precedent for what we, as citizens, expect from our political institutions. Taken amorally and purely logistically, Trump’s decision is still impossible to justify. Trump has unwaveringly advocated for strengthening the American military. Removing thousands of physically and mentally capable military members is directly betraying this key component of his domestic policy.

Moreover, Trump’s tweet mentioned the supposed financial “burden” and the “disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” An extensive research study by Rand Corp. concluded that the inclusion of transgender people in the military would only a 0.13-percent ($8.4 million out of $6.2 billion) increase in health care spending, a far from “tremendous” change. And, if Trump believes –– or wants the American public to believe he is sincere about conserving American dollars, he should be reminded that his eleven personal trips to Mar-A-Lago have costed $29 million dollars, nearly quadrupled the sum of costs associated with transgender Americans serving in the military.

Like the President himself, it’s egregiously unpopular. A recent poll cited by The Washington Post shows that the majority of people in all 50 states oppose the ban. Even in the most conservative states, the merits of Trump’s decision go largely unrecognized. The commander-in-chief is quickly losing the support of those he is supposed to be in command of. In early August, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft stated that he “will not break faith” with transgender individuals serving as Coast Guards. The recently confirmed Navy Secretary stated that “any patriot that wants to serve and meets all the requirements should be able to serve in our military.” Clearly, political affiliations and biases are slowly decaying as Trump continues to make one unconscionable decision after another.

To me, this absent-minded, haphazard decision appears to be just one more in a series of attempts by Trump to distract the public from the harsh reality of his political and personal past, namely to counter the momentum his complicated and seemingly collusive relationship with Russia has gained in recent months. While we will never know Trump’s true intention with this one policy decision, what remains dogmatic is his perpetual willingness to turn the act of running a government – politics – into a manipulative game where the only eligible winners are himself and his few trusted administration members. As students of history, we all must not allow this to become the perceived norm. The truth is that this kind of political tomfoolery is unprecedented in American politics. To excuse Trump’s lack of morality “because it’s politics” would be to undermine the overwhelmingly sincere interests and efforts of former American commander-in-chiefs.

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