Rotten to the Corp: Trump Announces Ban on Transgender Troops
As if the White House didn’t have enough bad PR to deal with between the Russia Scandal and consistent health care failures, President Trump in a string of tweets Wednesday morning stated that Transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to serve in the US military. The announcement has dominated the 24-hour news cycle more than 6 foot 4 Polish Women in an anonymous motel with a wealthy stockbroker. The move is an undoing of a policy implemented the Obama administration last year, removing a ban on trans individuals entering military service just put in place last year
Many have criticized the president's announcement, citing the Trumps previous statements supporting LGBT individuals. Early in Trump’s candidacy, he announced his support of Trans people stating that Trans people would be allowed to use the bathrooms of their choice at Trump businesses when asked about the controversial bathroom bills being introduced in North Carolina and Mississippi last year.
There are a few things to take away from this story aside from common elements of policy flip-flops and the outrage over discriminating against LGBT citizens.
First, it important to understand how Trump is communicating. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed services committee in a recent statement mocked the president saying the tweets were “yet another example of why we don’t make major policy announcement via twitter”. this in regards to the notion that Twitter does not go into the full detail of the policy. However, like most of Trump’s agenda and Trump himself, this policy will likely be wildly unpopular considering that majority of Americans support equal rights for LGBT citizens. Trump will not get in front of an audience that doesn’t like him or backs him up. So, it follows that all of his major decisions will be through a medium that doesn’t allow for direct feedback. Twitter has trolls and commenters, but no one that will actually challenge him in person.
It should be noted that this style of communication isn’t going over well for the rest of the government. The policy was reportedly a surprise to the Pentagon. General James Mattis was on vacation when the announcement was made and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, General Joseph Dunford said the policy on transgender individuals allowed in the force would not be changing until the order is given to him by Mattis and a plan of implementation is laid out and presented for him to follow.
This leads to the final point about this. Optics. Trump tends to do big things in order to distract from the Russia story. Why? Well, there are several areas of the political sphere that you can point to that he cannot control. The Trump administration has been using this tactic to divert and distract from stories where they are not directing the narrative. They know that if they can hang onto at least the handful of Americans who still support them, they may be able to cling to some form of support if the walls cave in. But if things start going badly for them; Robert Mueller subpoenas all of Trump tax returns, maybe Reince Preibus leaks something damning to the press, then the base might start to turn on them. So the president in a panic makes a decision he thinks will appeal to two primal beliefs of his supporters. Their unquestioning love for the military, and their overt or covert disgust of the LGBT community. Unfortunately, the administration isn't capable of effective communication or competent governance so their plan, like so many others, has failed.
Continue to look for these kinds of announcements and actions in the future. It more than likely means that things are going up shit’s creek for the Trump team.