On January 20th, a full rotation of the earth (yes, Michael Moore and company, we are all still alive), a full calendar year, will have taken place since the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, Donald John Trump. Without much doubt, all Americans knew their lives would change to some degree on that fateful and icy January day. Few had even a modicum of foresight to what extent, and in what fashion that the American culture, citizenry, and political landscape would turn. In the president’s now immortal words, forever held in record and mind, he congratulated the public with these remarks, “this moment is your moment: it belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country. What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.”
A plethora of Americans wept and shrieked in agony the day Donald Trump became president. Others, enthused and exuberant, reveled in thunderous applause. Some went about their daily lives with little regard for a change in ruling party, or executive. But, a year later, do these same people feel the same way? Did President Trump live up to his words; is in fact the government truly controlled by the people? Disastrous polling across the board indicates most Americans think, and rather ardently so, that the President has not performed to expectations. The president has lost the confidence of the majority, and presumably the majority of world leaders as well. We live in a paradox: confidence in the economy has not resembled the strength of the current day in decades. Americans turned out to vote during the fall at a remarkably high rate for local elections. It appears a sense of civic duty and trust is percolating back into American culture. Accountability for politicians, entertainers, and the elite class is in vogue. All of these things are in some way symptomatic of a Trumpian cultural phenomenon.
A nuanced reality has presented itself: a year later, the American people are making America great again. However, it is very difficult to conclude whether that result is an effect of President Trump executing the duties of his office, or if an outraged and disturbed American public has seized its future, putting the will of the many over the will of the tone-deaf few. And, after all, if President Trump has galvanized an opposition from both parties with resources and a publicly supported moral crusade, has the president not disparately impacted the state in the way he actually intended—putting the people back in control of the government?
These are complicated and difficult questions indeed. To make sense of our reality, one must separate the President from his policies.
As a policymaker, the President has inconsistently delivered on a conservative agenda. While healthcare deliberations left Americans far more divided than united, with more questions than answers, the recent tax plan passage looks to benefit the majority of Americans. A true game-changer, it will deliver increased child tax credit (thanks to Senators Rubios and Lee), save businesses large amounts of money to provide stimulus for an American economy beginning to hit its stride, and simplify taxes making the plan more accessible for the average American. 8 in 10 Americans will pay lower taxes next year according to the Tax Policy Center, keeping the government out of their wallets and increasing their personal freedoms. There is simply no albatross here—President Trump approved a tax plan that will get results for America, and will return a sound approach to the economy.
The American voted him into office in a fair and free election. To constantly ridicule the President is to reject the ethos the American people had– full of angst, malcontent with the Democrats, and a derision for Hillary Clinton, Americans voted in droves for Donald Trump. Americans created the Trump presidency, and instead of whining in revulsion, we all must take some degree of personal responsibility for what has happened. Most of all, the at-fault GOP, who made this Faustian bargain to preserve power for the next four years, has lost complete credibility with moderates and even some right-wing voters.
Taxes are not the full story, though. In a party that is collapsing on itself, the president has done little to gain consensus on key issues, such as DACA, infrastructure, and healthcare. His reduction of the American state department destabilizes ties with allies, and an incoherent vision for foreign policy endangers the safety of American national interests. Brinksmanship with North Korea through insecure, hyper-masculine, poorly-crafted tweets have terrified, not excited the international community. The president has not yet made a significant impact in foreign policy, and generally has made the state less credible abroad and damaged the American reputation. On the whole, it is very difficult to say that the President has furthered conservatism in terms of policy. His inability to build consensus, even within in his own party, signifies weak and botched leadership.
That is exactly where President Trump the personality and President Trump the policymaker intersect. His bombast, asininity, and impulsiveness shine through the majority of important decisions made. The president has been at his best when he remains mum, and prescribes orthodox conservative decisions for the nation, staying within the bounds of conventional presidential behavior (see: Neil Gorsuch’s nomination). President Trump, however, is no conventional president. He has been at his worst very frequently. Every loose cannon, idiotic, and damaging statement he has made—from the ever-popular “sh*thole countries” to the creatively spelled “covefe” has eroded the dignity and honor of an office held sacred for two hundred years. The president’s continuous lack of restraint provides a chisel with which to desecrate the altar in the temple of our democracy. While previous presidents have not acted as constant north stars for moral and honorable conduct, the president has not even feigned a pretense of having integrity on every topic from Robert Mueller to Colin Kaepernick.
I supported President Trump to win election over Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016. No apologist, rationalizer, or political strategist can tenably defend the president’s record, nor his reputation. I am unequivocally regretful of my support of the President during the late stages of his campaign, and equal parts outraged and saddened by the damage he has not just done to America, but the GOP. The Republicans thought supporting Trump was an exercise in political usufruct; they were so very tragically wrong. Conservatives sold their consciences for a tax plan. What tax plan is worth four years of a simpleton that denigrates the freedoms, ideals, and institutions that conservatives, and all Americans hold with reverence?
Yet the palpable and somehow subtle reality of the Trump administration is that the President is our president. The American voted him into office in a fair and free election. To constantly ridicule the President is to reject the ethos the American people had– full of angst, malcontent with the Democrats, and a derision for Hillary Clinton, Americans voted in droves for Donald Trump. Americans created the Trump presidency, and instead of whining in revulsion, we all must take some degree of personal responsibility for what has happened. Most of all, the at-fault GOP, who made this Faustian bargain to preserve power for the next four years, has lost complete credibility with moderates and even some right-wing voters.
The next three years should spur active and lively debate, civic participation, and if the President manages to complete the gigantic tasks of getting off twitter and rebuilding a divided party, maybe there can be hope for the future.