The anti-Trump charity guide: What has Trump been effective at attacking in his first 9 months?

By: Patrick W. Zimmerman

And where can you put your money to help combat it?

Honestly, for all the sound and the fury surrounding President Trump’s ongoing lowering of the standards for behavior, leadership, and coherent rational thought previously required of the American chief executive, Trump’s lasting legacy will be more likely tied to his actions than his tweets.  We’ve been taking this for awhile; back in February, we identified likely areas that would be under threat from the Trump Agenda. Starting with a pretty broad list of possible targets identified by his campaign, we tried to project what he would go after first.

Time to check in, re-evaluate, and see if we need to re-adjust where we’re putting our hard-earned cash to best apply checks on his power and a little balance to American politics.


The question?

How effective has the Trump administration been at rolling America back to 1958?  To before the dark times, before Civil Rights, when white men could look around, masters of all they surveyed?


The short-short version

The administration has been really effective in one area that is pretty much entirely under the control of the Executive Branch: cutting environmental regulations.

It’s been partially effective in some other areas due to those pesky judicial (court challenges) and legislative (ineffectiveness and increasing hostility) branches of government: banning immigration and institutionalizing white nationalism.

And Trump has been pretty (though not totally) ineffective at enacting a bunch of his campaign promises: undoing Obamacare (on day 1), expanding the US nuclear arsenal, and (completely) rolling back women’s and LGBT rights.



The scoreboard:

We’re defining an attack by the administration as one of the following direct actions:

  • Executive Order
  • Presidential Memorandum
  • Signed Legislation
  • Vetoed Legislation
  • Explicit rules laid down by executive branch agencies

Other areas of the executive branch have a lot of recommendation capacity, and also some ability to decide levels of enforcement of existing orders, but they’re not discrete actions that go into effect themselves (for the most part).  For example, Zinke recommending shrinking monuments: it’s public, and they’re under threat, but nothing actually happens to Bears Ears National Monument until Trump acts on that recommendation.

Issue # actions Exec. orders Pres. Mem. Legislation
Climate change and environmental regulation 12 13766, 13778, 13782, 13783, 13790, 13795, 13807 2017-02032, 2017-02035, 2017-02044 HJ Res. 41, HJ Res. 38
Immigrant communities and immigration 5 13767, 13768, 13769, 13780 2017-06702
Racial equality and the legacy of Civil Rights 5 13767, 13768, 13769, 13780 2017-06702
Women’s rights 4 2017-10-12 (num TBA) 2017-01843 HJ Res. 43, Birth control removal from ACA mandate
Healthcare for all 3 13765, 2017-10-12 (num TBA) HJ Res. 43
Nuclear disarmament 3 13810 2017-02282, 2017-02381
Barriers to corruption 2 13787, 13799
LGBT rights 2 13798 2017-18544
Public education 1 13791
For more details on each action, see the Trump Watch. Many thanks to Dr. Sandie Holguin for pointing out that the healthcare rollback involved multiple executive actions.

The anti-trump charity dashboard:

Here’s the big list.  We’ve sorted through well over 100 charities to focus on our areas of immediate threat.  Each charity is assigned a Trump-o-meter score that is simply a sum of the number of executive actions taken against causes that it seeks to defend or address.  As a note, charities receive half-credit for areas that they do defend but in a clearly secondary manner.  For example, the Human Rights Campaign does care about women’s rights, but its primary purview is the defense of LGBT equality.  Planned Parenthood is the reverse, so each get a half of the credit for those areas.

Note: you can select and de-select causes to customize the charity list.  Chart will be updated with 2017 numbers when IRS Form 990 is submitted by each charity early next year.


So where does that leave us after 9 months?

Does this mean those areas are safe?  Nope

Sure, some ideas was unworkable from the start (the Wall), and Zombie Healthcare Reform IV might not rise (again) from the dead. However, other areas of threat just kind of seem like he hasn’t gotten around to, say, really working on cutting harassment protections for women in the workplace or following up on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recommendation to cut the size of  national monuments.  And the danger to nuclear disarmament will exist until the day he no longer has the sole power to decide to mash the big red button because he woke up feeling like putting on a cowboy hat.

So, what has put the brakes on Making America Great Again so far, and how likely is that to be effective down the road?

  • The biggest check on Trump might end up being his inability to play nice with his own Congress, weirdly enough. Trump seems to prioritize making sure that Congress gets the blame for any failures, even when it’s run by his own party, over keeping a working relationship with the body of government that, you know, is given exclusive power to create new laws.
    Publicly throwing the single Senator with the most influence over the legislative progress of Trump’s program seems needlessly risky, if not outright insane. Somewhat surprisingly, some in the GOP have started to snipe back.  With style:
    • Likelihood for continued effectiveness: Decent-to-good. Trump shows no signs of backing down from any and all feuds if he feels that he’s been wronged or liable to look weak.  This might die down in his second year as public pressure from Trump’s base and other blocs within the GOP want Congress to take action on items such as Tax Reform.  But it probably won’t completely go away.
  • A second check has been the courts. In particular, blue state Attorneys General (Washington, Hawai’i, and Maryland) have used the District Courts and the Circuit Courts of Appeals to successfully delay (though not completely block) Trump’s attempted Muslim ban.
    • Likelihood for continued effectiveness: Possible, but far from a sure thing. The one potentially far-reaching success Trump had early on in his term was getting conservative Neil Gorsuch on the court, tipping the balance, in most cases, in favor of the conservative bloc, 5-4.  It is unknown how this court will react to future challenges to Trump’s executive authority.  It could act as a continued check on executive overreaches (such as Trump trying to repeal and replace Obamacare by fiat).  It could also tacitly uphold executive authority as it did by partially reinstating the travel ban and postponing the decision on the Hawai’i and Maryland cases until after the ban had expired (and the suits were therefore moot).
  • Chaos within the White House has been the most entertaining check on executive effectiveness, if not necessarily the most reliable. With a few exceptions (such as when he took his first European trip or during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma), Trump has hardly gone 3 weeks without reacting to a public relations fire.  These types of image crises seem to bother him more than anything else, and often result in the shuffling of his cabinet.  If he’s putting out PR fires and playing White House musical chairs, then he’s not spending time moving his agenda forward.  When active, this is probably a more effective form of paralysis than the obstructionism in Congress he keeps decrying.
    • Likelihood for continued effectiveness: ?????? Honestly, this is totally up in the air. There are two separate games underway on this very subject on this site alone (cabinet bingo & fantasy politics).  I would equally believe a mystic who told me they had evidence he was going to fire everyone tomorrow as someone who had proof that the pace of dismissals and resignations was going to drop after this initial settling-in period.  Everyone left has figured out a survival strategy. 

What next?

Put your money where his mouth is.

Donate.  Fight.  Be the change you wish to see in the world.  Help each other.

#resist.

About The Author

Architeuthis Rex, a man of (little) wealth and (questionable) taste. Historian and anthropologist interested in identity, regionalism / nationalism, mass culture, and the social and political contexts in which they exist. Earned Ph.D. in social and cultural History with a concentration in anthropology from Carnegie Mellon University and then (mostly) fled academia to write things that more than 10 other people will actually read. Driven to pursue a doctorate to try and answer the question, "Why do they all hate each other?" — still working on it. Plays beer-league hockey, softball, and soccer. Professional toddler wrangler. Likes dogs, good booze, food, and horribly awesome kung-fu movies.

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