The scariest thing this Halloween isn’t any horror movie. It’s real-life policies that are affecting our most vulnerable communities. Here are ten to watch and hints about how we might combat them.
The U.S. is bombing at least six countries and supporting wars in others. The U.S. war in Afghanistan is now 16 years old, civilian deaths are on the rise in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq, and the Senate passed a $700 billion military spending bill — tens of billions more than even Trump asked for. If there was ever a time for the anti-war movement to step up, it’s now. But in order to be successful, it needs to focus on linking the issues of militarism to our domestic crises: military spending that strips funds from the social safety net, excess Pentagon equipment used to militarize local law enforcement, and our military’s outsized carbon footprint, to name a few.
Our immigrant communities are under attack. They face the fear of deportation now more than ever. Trump is using DACA as a bargaining chip for a border wall that would create far more problems than it solves. ICE is targeting sanctuary cities and calling it “Operation Safe City,” even though local law enforcement has said these raids put communities in more danger. Trump pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio who racially targeted Latinos, tortured inmates, and denied them their constitutional rights. The Justice Department has proposed quotas for immigration judges. All the while, this administration has tried to stoke fears that immigrants are dangerous criminals, even though the numbers just don’t add up — in fact, immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans. Despite these attacks, immigrant communities — a powerful contingent of them youth — are leading the fights to stand up for their human rights.
From Franklin to Ophelia, hurricane season rages on. Despite these more obvious consequences of climate change, the Trump administration is rolling back the Obama administration’s clean power plan, appointing former coal industry lobbyists to help dismantle the EPA, pulling out of the Paris agreement, and moving forward with the Dakota Access Pipeline. The destruction of our environmental protections hurts all of us, but as we saw in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, it hits poor people of color first and worst. The good news is that states are fighting back, with some implementing policies that could help the U.S. meet its Paris emissions reduction targets even with Trump pulling the U.S. out of the deal.
Trump’s tax plan is an even more regressive form of Reagan’s trickle-down-economics. He’s straight up lying on his nationwide tour when he won’t admit that his plan cuts taxes for the wealthiest Americans and leaves the rest of us out to dry. And you can forget the falsehood that corporate tax cuts create jobs. In reality, they only boost CEO pay. If we really want to reverse inequality and bolster our middle class, we need to bust these myths and address the root causes of inequality in the U.S., like our legacy of racism and discrimination in wages and wealth-building.
We’re moving closer to war with Iran and North Korea. This month Trump decertified the Iran deal, even as every expert says the Iranians are in compliance. That kind of rogue-state behavior only serves to torch U.S. credibility on the international stage, even as Trump continues to provoke North Korea with “fire and fury.” It’s diplomacy-centered policies like the Iran deal that keep us out of reckless, never-ending wars.
The FBI and Department of Justice are going after the Black Lives Matter movement. The FBI is calling them violent “Black Identity Extremists.” Republican lawmakers are introducing bills to curb protesting in 18 states. Trump has advocated for the firing of NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality. And the Jeff Sessions-run DOJ has tried to cancel consent decrees with law enforcement that were meant to institute policing reforms. As we continue to support BLM, we must continue to push for system changes like restorative justice and closing the racial wealth gap in addition to curbing police brutality and mass incarceration.
Trump single-handedly put the health care of millions at risk by destabilizing insurance markets and undermining the ACA with an executive order this month. Again it’s our most vulnerable populations at risk here — low-income folks, older people, and people with disabilities. While we get sick, a “free market” health care system helps make CEOs rich. But a bill like Medicare for All could help guarantee health care as a basic right to all its citizens.
We’re deregulating industries from transportation to coal in order to reward corporations at the expense of job growth and protecting the environment. At the same time, the fossil fuel industry and its backers in the Trump administration are waging a quiet war on the renewable energy industry. But as people learn the truth about fossil fuel-funded misinformation, states from Florida to Nevada to Hawaii are fighting back.
There’s been a systematic rollback of LGBTQ rights. A recent push for religious exemptions is threatening to permit churches and even some corporations to discriminate against people based on their gender or sexual orientation (think: marriage, adoption, birth control). And Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education has been working to remove protections for our transgender kids in schools. But it’s the very kids this administration is targeting who are leading the fight for their own rights.
This administration has now attempted three renditions of a Muslim ban. The third was the most sophisticated from a legal standpoint, and if we’re not vigilant, future bans could be enforced. But the immediate danger is the Islamophobic sentiment fueling these bans. Public opposition to this attempted discrimination has helped strengthen the backbone of judges and lawyers standing up to the executive branch. We should be expanding the number of refugees and immigrants we take in, especially as the U.S. helps create the conditions that leave them seeking asylum in the first place.