If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile

Jacqueline Lee/HIGHLANDER

Within only two weeks of being sworn in as the first 100 percent artificially flavored president of the United States, Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he has an interest in neither clean energy nor the public interest. There is no better example than the reignition of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Months of hard-fought protests on behalf of Native Americans, veterans and hundreds of American citizens pushed the Obama administration to explore alternate routes for the construction of DAPL away from Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota. Big win for the American public. Big kudos to Barack Obama. Obviously, the Tangerine Drama Queen couldn’t stand that.

Four days after his inauguration, Trump spurred efforts to get the wheels of DAPL moving again. The executive order signed by Trump mandated the Army Corps of Engineers to find that alternate route “in an expedited manner,” putting the pipeline’s construction back on the front burner. Obama’s move was less of a cancellation than a postponement, anyway. It might have momentarily saved his image, but it dropped the ultimate decision over DAPL squarely in Trump’s lap.

But wait, there’s more. In the same fell swoop, Mango Mussolini signed another order reinviting TransCanada, the corporation behind Keystone XL (did you forget about Keystone XL?) to reapply for the permit that Obama shot down back in November of 2015. In four days, Trump did more service for the oil and gas industry than Obama did in his entire presidency.

I’ve got to hand it to the spray-tan with a plan: He isn’t like other politicians. He actually seems committed to making good on his campaign promises. But for a president that vowed to turn power back over to the people, he hasn’t been listening very closely.

The Trump administration has made it clear that it will not be swayed by public opinion, whether it is telling him the majority of Americans don’t support a Mexican border wall or that the banning of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries is just about the most un-American thing a president can do. Even with a record-low of a 42 percent approval rating upon taking office, it’s obvious that Trump will continue to ignore the protests, demonstrations and even federal court orders against his policies.

It is for this exact reason that the protests must continue. The social media backlash has to become more annoying. The marches must keep happening, and frequently. Trump’s insistence upon DAPL in the face of overwhelming opposition is not unique nor isolated. It is demonstrative of his view of the American public at large: No means yes and yes means oil. To back down now from the defense of Standing Rock would be seen as a concession of defeat in the eyes of the Trump administration and the vindication of its policies.

Therefore it’s up to us to stand firm. If our legislative branch will do nothing to check the powers of the executive, as they’ve already demonstrated, and the Supreme Court vacancy is filled with a justice as hyper-conservative as Neil Gorsuch, the executive branch will only become accustomed to unchecked power. It is more necessary now than ever that the public be that checking force, even if its only role is to say no.

The Trump administration must be opposed, and loudly, at every wrong turn they take and every unconstitutional, immoral decision they make. If not, the egregious violations of American principles will grow. Even worse, we the public will become desensitized to injustice and the erosion of democracy will normalize, making our fight even harder in the future. We have to remain resolute in the face of a federal government that doesn’t listen to us. For the sake of all the battles yet to be fought, it is up to us, the American people, not to back down an inch.


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