One Year In – My Assessment
President Trump has succeeded in many of the ways his supporters wanted. He has withdrawn from trade and climate pacts, cut corporate tax rates and regulations, nominated and elevated conservative judges and made life very hard for immigrants and people of color in this country and far better for the patrons of his golf courses, gourmet restaurants and luxury hotels. He has finished his first year with an absolutley unnecessary government shutdown, which he has been praising, forecasting and extolling as an absolute necessity since last fall.
On the other hand, he has alienated our traditional allies and trading partners in much of the world. With the clear exceptions of Israel, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, he has alienated much of Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, Canada, Australia and Canada. He has made friends with the leaders of China and Russia, while flirting with North Korea's leader about a nuclear war. His friendship with Putin stands in stark contrast to the cold hostility between Presidents Obama and Putin. He has not yet translated their obvious affection and friendship into any meaningful progress in the trouble spots of Ukraine, North Korea or the Middle East.
Honestly, a President can put forward legitimate American interests in a far less offensive manner. The respect and admiration with which we have been viewed around the world is being foolishly dissipated in an endless search for ego gratification and attention, which I cannot pretend to understand.
President Trump has exacerbated the serious political divisions that in all fairness he inherited, and given them a far more antagonistic and overt racial animus. The political divisiveness in this nation was not invented by President Trump; it goes back to our founding fathers who brought 13 diverse states together despite their many different viewpoints on enslaving their fellow human beings. Elections are the way we discuss, debate and resolve our nation’s differences on the way forward; it is then up to the victor to bring the country together. This has been the President’s greatest weakness; he attacks, bullies and diminishes all who voice disagreements with him, from his cabinet, his administration, the Congress, the press and even professional athletes and college professors. This is not the way you govern a great and diverse nation; it is the way you weaken it internally; this is a threat to our democratic traditions.
Communication has been a fatal Trump weakness. Although he has developed a wide, rapturous and attentive audience, he still offends most Americans on both style and substance. President Trump’s style of communication is entirely unbecoming to an American President and more in line with the fellows who had a few too many at the local bar. He not only offends about two thirds of his constituents and many even in his base with his morning and midnight twitter rants, but he contradicts himself and his administration and makes himself appear the bumptious fool to people and policy makers all over the world. Truth has been repeatedly sacrificed on the altar of affirming and reaffirming his role as the all knowing, all seeing and perfectly intelligent leader.
He campaigned as a great negotiator and consummate deal-maker who could bring Democrats and Republicans together. He has governed from the hard right – incessantly attacking immigrants, the poor and guarantees of health care for all Americans while seeking to staff his own Administration and stuff the nation's judicial system with at least some individuals drawn from the nether reaches of nativist hate groups. He seemingly cannot keep his word, which is the key to successful negotiation. He does not understand the fundamental concept of “win-win”; he only understands the first syllable.
He has not made the unforgivable mistakes of getting us into an unwarranted war or destabilizing the economic growth that he inherited from his predecessor in the Oval Office. To his credit, he has nominated and appointed a well-respected new Chairman of the Federal Reserve and a solid, no nonsense General to head the Department of Defense.
He is benefiting from a surging stock market, let us hope that it is built on sound fundamentals rather than a sugar high from tax breaks for the wealthiest investors. We will see over the next decade whether Trumpian “trickle down” creates a rising tide for all boats or simply exacerbates the severe economic inequality plaguing our nation. Improving American productivity, enhancing technological advances, spreading the benefits of scientific discoveries, a sound and transparent financial system and increasing American manufacturing competitiveness are the only lasting foundations of economic growth.
So let us hope for salutary improvements in his leadership, decision-making and style in Year 2. Let us all work for a speedy return to the urgently needed Constitutional system of checks and balances in the upcoming November elections.
Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin