Halfway there: a look back at the Trump presidency

Amadou Bah, Crier Staff

Donald J. Trump is the 45th President of the United States. As such, he is subject to the same scrutiny that his other 44 predecessors were during their terms. There are empirical methods to gauge a president’s performance. The most commonly used empirical method to decipher a president’s ability to lead is the approval rating system. Other methods include, but are not exclusive to: evaluating whether or not a president’s campaign promises are kept, gauging the state of the economy, and examining how the president’s foreign policy is viewed internally and externally.

According to the polling website FiveThirtyEight, (a website that finds the average of all polls in order to establish an accurate approval rating) President Trump stands at an approval rating of 41.8 percent as of Feb. 16, 2019. Compared to his predecessors this mark is relatively low. Compared to President Obama this is 7 percentage points lower (48.8 percent). President George W. Bush had an approval rating of 56.7 percent at this time in his presidency. President Reagan’s approval rating was even lower than President Trump’s as it stood at 35.8 percent at the same point in his presidency. The thing that all of these presidents have in common is that they all won re-election despite the variances in their approval ratings. It is important to note that during the presidency of Ronald Reagan polling was far more reliable as a result of landlines being the primary mode of telecommunication. Now that cell phones have begun replacing landlines as the primary mode of telecommunication gathering survey data for polls has become far more difficult than it ever was before.

When it pertains to President Trump’s campaign promises it is difficult to ascertain what campaign promises were legitimate or not. According to the website Politifact, (a website awarded the Pulitzer Prize for its political fact checking) President Trump’s top 5 campaign promises were: repealing Obamacare, building a wall and making Mexico pay for it, suspending immigration from terror-prone places, cutting taxes for everyone, lowering the business tax rate.

President Trump has failed multiple times in his effort to repeal Obamacare. These failures began back in 2016 when Republicans controlled both houses of congress. Now that Democrats control the House of Representatives it can be assumed that for all intents and purposes the Obamacare repeal effort is now dead. President Trump has not found a way to secure funding for his border wall. Mexico has refused to pay for it even though President Trump claims they are inadvertently paying the U.S. back for the wall through the savings of the renegotiated trade deal between Mexico and U.S. It can be assumed through President Trump’s efforts that he considers the border wall to be the one promise that will make or break his presidency. In order to secure the 5.7 billion dollars necessary to build the southern border wall he has done the following: repealed DACA and used it as a bargaining chip, shutdown the federal government for a record 35 days, and used his executive powers to declare a national emergency in order to justify the use of military funds towards the development of the wall. President Trump has indeed kept his promise to prevent individuals from terrorist-prone countries from being able to enter the United States through his executive order that implemented a travel ban of these nations. President Trump has indeed cut taxes for all

Americans while at the same time lowering the corporate tax rates for all companies down to a record low flat rate of 21%.

President Trump’s economy has been one of the most productive in the history of the United States. This in part thanks to President Obama handing President Trump a surging economy. Unemployment is at one of its lowest rates in U.S. history. The stock market has reached record highs throughout President Trump’s tenure. Business optimism has surged throughout the presidency of Donald Trump. Most polls, if not all, show that the majority of Americans approve of President Trump’s handling of the economy.

President Trump’s foreign policy threatens to undermine the tremendous strides made in the economy. President Trump’s trade war with China threatens to destabilize the business in America. It also provides certain American industries the opportunity to develop enough to compete in domestic markets as well as global markets. It is a calculated gamble the Trump administration is taking to curb the influence of global industries and to develop and protect certain domestic ones. The success and longevity of this approach will be determined by whether or not Americans can withstand the negative repercussions that have the potential to arise as a result of this economic war of attrition.

Despite a lot of the empirical data suggesting that President Trump has been successful in many areas it is not reflected in his approval rating. This stems from the things that can’t simply be boiled down to kept campaign promises. The issue within the presidency of Donald Trump lies within the man himself. President Trump has failed to consistently show the sort of temperament necessary to instill confidence in the American people that he can lead. President Trump has consistently failed to bring the nation together in favor of catering to his base through his use of divisive rhetoric that makes governing appear like a zero sum game. It is not too late for President Trump to turn things around nor is he in uncharted territory in terms of his approval rating at this point in his presidency. If President Trump is going to reverse his fortunes, he simply must get out of his own way so that people can finally judge his presidency not his personality.