U.S. politics seem to be in chaos in the run-up to Christmas this year. The stock markets seem to be plummeting, President Donald Trump made an unexpected announcement last week claiming that ISIS had been defeated in Syria and that the troops were being withdrawn, and shortly afterward the federal government was shut down because Trump can’t get the Senate to agree to a $5 billion piggy bank for his border wall.
The results have been swift, with two of Trump’s top aides resigning after his announcement regarding Syria, and 800,000 government employees being forced to work without pay or furlough. CNN columnist Stephen Collinson has described Trump’s actions as a “nightmare before Christmas.”
“President Donald Trump is precipitating chaos and seeking to wield unrestrained power as America enters a holiday period overshadowed by political pandemonium orchestrated by the disruptor-in-chief,” Collinson writes.
This is the third time this year that the government has been shut down, tying Congress’ hands as Trump demands that they bow to his wishes. Thousands of federal employees have been sent home uncertain about whether or not they will receive their December paychecks. In between all this, the president has been polling his advisers on whether he has the power to fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell given the chaos on Wall Street.
Trump’s decision over Syria prompted Defense Secretary James Mattis to resign, writing a public letter about his fallout with the president. A special envoy in the fight against ISIS, Brett McGurk, resigned a day later.
The news that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent lung surgery to remove cancerous growths further added to the turmoil in Washington. At the same time, the Supreme Court dealt Trump another blow as they pushed back on his new proposed restrictions for asylum seekers arriving in the U.S.
Collinson argues that the “sense of things slipping out of control on multiple fronts left the political world more unsettled and on edge than at any other time in Trump’s tumultuous presidency.”
Even Republicans are losing their patience with Trump, and have argued that the president has put himself into a situation with his demands that will only worsen once the Democrats take control of the House in January.
Trump has also, to the surprise of most, remained holed up in the White House instead of heading down to Mar-A-Lago in Florida for his planned vacation.
A White House official has said that while staffers are used to chaos, this time around “it feels different.”