In an article from The New York Times on Nov. 22, it was revealed that President-elect Donald Trump will not form a special prosecution committee to further investigate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails. The threat that he proposed during the second presidential debate in October became a rallying cry in the latter part of his campaign. It spawned a whole new wave of controversy over Trump’s misunderstanding of his position as president, adding the chant of “Lock Her Up” to the already infamous “Build That Wall.” His decision to not go through with his initial course of action, along with his softening on waterboarding, his change of mind about the origins of climate change and his recent hesitance toward building a wall to border Mexico, reveals his true cowardice. The concern moving forward should be the actions of his potentially enraged followers and how they demonstrate their frustration with his broken promises.
Trump’s cowardice was apparent throughout the entire race. His objective was to be on the winning side; he goes where the money is, where the influence is and where the power is. That’s why he never apologizes when he’s wrong, which he often is and is why he flip-flops on subjects so often. It is also why he throws his support behind whichever side seems to be the most beneficial at the time, but will backtrack as quickly as days later if the side that he backs doesn’t turn out to be as fruitful as he originally thought. It’s apparent in the scapegoating that happened all throughout the 2016 Election and it’s apparent in how he runs his businesses. When the going gets tough, Trump backs out. That’s what a coward does because Trump is all about self-preservation.
That characteristic is also why he has now dropped his promised prosecution of Clinton for her emails. He kept the media busy by piling threats of incarceration on top of her, all to distract from his rise in the polls. He achieved his goal and solidified his own personal security at the expense of others and now, he drops all pretenses that he held of being a leader, and his followers are following suit in their actions. According to CNN and the Southern Poverty Law Center, there were “more than 700 cases of hateful harassment or intimidation in the United States between November 9 and November 16.” These numbers have decreased since then, but these statistics come on the tail of a large increase in hate crimes. The FBI reported in an article from CBS News that there was “a [67 percent] increase in hate crimes against Muslim Americans” alone in 2015, one of the groups significantly targeted by Trump during the election season. This comes both as a result of anti-Muslim sentiments post 9/11 and Trump’s outspoken Islamophobia that has emboldened his supporters to act on their beliefs.
On the one hand, I can only hope that Trump’s choices to abandon popular campaign promises is the beginning of a recurring theme. Hopefully, Trump continues breaking these promises and softens his messages so that his stances aren’t as radical and hateful as previously thought. By doing so, I also hope that he shows people how truly cowardly he is and how unlikely it is that he will satisfy any of the major promises that got him elected and is therefore unfit for the position that he will be assuming in January. By breaking these promises, he will ultimately be demonstrating not only to his supporters, but to everyone else, just how unqualified he is for such an important office.
However, if he doesn’t follow through on his major campaign promises, like the building of the wall or his proposed Muslim registry, it may incite further rage and violence from the alt-right — a group of people in the U.S. who possess populist ideologies and reject mainstream conservatism —, which only endangers the minority groups that they are so vehemently against. The fringe group, which has branded itself as an alternative to standard Republican conservatism and publishes xenophobic, racist and Islamophobic content in publications like Breitbart News, began to emerge with fervor as the election wound down. Not only is there a fear that these extremist followers will turn on him, but also that one of their major voices will be a key advisor to the president-elect. Following the inclusion of Breitbart News executive Stephen K. Bannon on Trump’s staff, Trump leaves himself vulnerable to manipulation from bigoted people like Bannon or his Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who believes in conversion therapy for gay youth, or Reince Priebus, his pick for chief of staff, who is a major denier of climate change.
For the next four years, Trump will be the president of the United States. In contrasting the messages that he used to get elected and the positions that he’s taking on those issues now, it’s anyone’s guess what these next four years will look like. The empty promises that Trump gave his supporters are slowly becoming apparent, leaving his position on various policies and beliefs unclear.