Trump is making civics great again

People are more civically engaged under Trump

By Joe Carnovale, Collegian contributor

The Donald Trump presidency is getting people engaged, educated and involved in politics and advocacy on a scale not seen in my short lifetime, and for all the wrong reasons. Forget former President Obama’s appeals to the American public, particularly young people, to volunteer by transforming the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday from simply a long weekend to a day of service. No, President Trump is motivating people to get engaged by forcing them to contact their representatives and plea for their health insurance not to be stripped away. People are taking to the polls and the streets to prevent alleged pedophiles and white supremacists from taking office and to remove an accused sexual predator from the Oval Office.

Record numbers of people, especially young people, women and minorities, have registered to run for public office since Trump’s election. We’re also collectively learning more about our nation’s government. We’ve come to understand more about the roles of various positions in the president’s cabinet and administration. We know senior advisors, chief strategists, staff secretaries and national security advisors thanks to the scandals and controversies that have plagued each and, in some cases, forced the individuals to resign. All of this is happening under the leadership of the man who famously stated he would “hire the best people.”

Comedian Jim Jefferies appeared on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” in June 2017 and compared the government to the human body. “You only learn about the small parts when they start to fail,” Jeffries said. “Why do I know Bannon, Priebus, Kushner, Tillerson, Sessions, Spicer, DeVos, Carson? Why do I know who these people are?” he continued. The short answer is because things aren’t going well.

How many people do you think could correctly identify the Secretary of Education under President Obama? My guess is that it’s not nearly as many as those who know that Betsy DeVos infamously whiffed on a question about one of the key national education debates during her confirmation hearing.

Current Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is known for having previously stated his desire to eliminate the very department he leads. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson is under fire for his department’s purchase of a dining set for around $31,000.

Then, there is the ever-growing list of departures from the Trump administration, be it via firing or resignation, but the list of troubled Trump employees doesn’t end with his cabinet.

Four former campaign advisors of Trump have been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, three of whom have pleaded guilty to at least some of the charges against them. As Jefferies would argue, we know the names of Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos because of their alleged connections with the Russians or other foreign officials and organizations.

Despite it being for all the wrong reasons, public knowledge of how the government works and who’s running it has increased because it’s become absolutely necessary for everyone to be informed. With so much turnover in the highest levels of the executive branch, so many people are affected by a firing or resignation. This is because issues that affect everyone — from education to national security to climate change — hang in the balance. Gone is the immature and ignorant notion that “I shouldn’t care about politics because it doesn’t affect me.”

The struggle going forward will be keeping people engaged after the chaotic and unpredictable leadership of the Trump administration finally ends, as well as avoiding the national sense of ignorance and complacency that contributed to Trump’s rise in the first place.

Joe Carnovale is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]