Trump’s First Year in Office: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Opinion by Righty V
November 8, 2016 marked the end of one of the ugliest American Presidential campaigns in recent memory. Americans and peoples across the world, who followed it, regardless of the outcome, sighed in relief that it had ended.
For some, the nightmare was really just beginning, for others, feelings of jubilation would wash over them as the first Twitter President and billionaire business man stepped to the throne.
No doubt, anxiety began to circulate its way through the American political establishment and corridors of Parliaments, Senates and Palaces around the world; as questions of follow-through on campaign promises became the talk of water coolers and closed door meetings.
A new chapter in American politics
A new chapter had dawned on American politics and would be dogged from the get-go by the ever evolving Probe into Russian interference and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
The probe would lead to the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller who would bring further investigations into a Trump obstruction of Justice charge. This continuing episode would also put Trump at odds with the American main stream media in what he dubbed as “Fake News”. In addition he would propagate a public spat with the FBI and his own Justice Department marking a departure from Presidential norms.
As Trump’s America First Policy began to take shape and portions of it began to be implemented, his approval ratings domestically and abroad among those opposed to the Trump agenda would hit record lows for recent incoming Presidents. To add to this political fire storm was the perception of crisis hoping; as the news cycle changed rapidly from one fired or resigning staffer to, political battles waged on twitter to politically incorrect exchanges and edicts. I do not think the news cycle has been as volatile in a long time.
As summer 2017 came to an end, it appeared the Trump Administration was on the verge of collapse, with large rifts in the GOP, the Russia probe producing indictments, Obama Care repeal failing in the senate, the Trump travel ban being contested at every turn, repercussions from Charlottesville comments and questions of the Presidents mental fitness gaining momentum.
Pressure was on for a turn around and by the end of the year; with the passage of the Tax reform and Jobs Act and the Russia Probe beginning to wind down perhaps Trump was finally finding a footing.
Regardless of creed, it was quite the year which we are certain will make for a good movie, documentary and passages in history books.
What Camp do you belong to?
Vegas odd were against the Trump Administration during his first year in office. Odds on his impeachment and quitting grew as media perception of events and news items ravished his first year.
Understanding Trump’s first year in office really depends which lens you peer through. If you had anti-Trump lenses or were simply on the left then only the bad and ugly perception of his first year would resonate and motivate you.
However, if you were on the right, there is a good chance you fell somewhere between the good, the bad and the ugly as Trump “the Brawler”, would alienate anyone, anywhere and at any time including GOP colleagues. No one was safe, and the powder keg was officially shaken. The Far Right Domestic Agenda seemed to be brought back into the mainstream to many peoples fear and amazement.
Collins dictionary poses two definitions for what is Trumpism.
the policies advocated by Donald Trump, especially those involving a rejection of the current political establishment and the vigorous pursuit of American national interests.
a controversial or outrageous statement attributed to Donald Trump
These definitions sum up Trump’s first year very nicely and most likely the rest of his four to eight year tenure. I’ll be focusing on Trumps first year from the pro-Trump and right-wing camp where an interesting divide can be found among the supposedly united right.
I believe much of the divide within the GOP comes down to Trumps appeal to a very broad republican base, including a demographic not typically represented by more traditional conservatives, whom are angry and feel abandoned by the new America. Better known as the “Deplorable’s” coined by Clinton during her failed 2016 campaign, these people quickly latched on to Trump, and Trump quickly leveraged this and focused his campaign on their plights.
It is this group of deplorable’s who lent Trump that extra support in key swing states pushing him over the top and into the White house. And it is this group which have become the backbone of his base and Trumpism itself. He needs to feed his base red meat regularly to keep Trumpism and his appeal alive and well especially as the 2018 mid-term elections rapidly approach.
Traditional GOPer’s intent on pushing a traditional GOP agenda needed to contest with a Trump agenda which included their agenda but also included more fringe right agendas which set the stage for a rivalry of the new and old guard.
Setting aside controversy over Russian collusion and his twitter compulsions and assuming Mr. Trump is of sound mind; his agenda moved forward with great speed and was a successful year for Trumpism.
When dealing with Trump and analyzing opinions of him one way or another you can really start to understand that a debate over whether the glass is half full or empty can never be argued successfully.
Trump represents a movement within his base, something recent past Presidents did not quite have and this leads to a “fact fits the view” type of mentality where both sides ignore the other when reaching a consensus.
Trump appears to have an obsession with keeping his campaign promises, highlighting his kept promises and invoking a sense of “the best and biggest” in all and everything his Administration has and will do. This resonates well with his base regardless whether or not his actions will pass through the processes required to become law.
Trump had a pretty simple playbook this year and consisted of three basic ideas. The first being it was the Dems fault, the second, he tried, the third it actually went through. The first two are aimed at base appeasement in my opinion and as long as he tried, brownie points would amass.
The Good the bad and the Ugly: Trumps first year in Office
The transition to the White House appeared to start off well with Trump and Obama having what both said was a great and productive meeting. However it appears the honeymoon wouldn’t last long and very quickly the transition fell into what the media would label disarray.
Whether this was true or not is hard to say, but appearances sure supported this. The Trump Organization seems to operate on the principle of organized chaos and has produced a viable going concern, regardless of the difficulties faced in the 1990’s.
Perhaps the transition and Trumps current Administration while appearing chaotic is simply how Trump operates and for him is how he is able to thrive. Anyone who has worked for the Trump Organization has said this is how he operates, hostile, aggressive and combative.
So to postulate, I believe Trump took his Trump Organizational culture and practices and brought them to the White House. It appears his Administration operates in a disruptive environment but perhaps is required to fulfill a Trump campaign promise to “drain the swamp”. Politicians on the Hill have become too comfortable and needed to be put into uncomfortable positions to shake things up.
This becomes more and more likely the strategy as Trumps true Agenda becomes clearer. There is a method to the madness and with rising approval ratings in mid-February, perhaps the shock and awe is wearing off as results start to benefit average Americans.
I will rate each accomplishment and whether I believe it falls within the good, the bad and the ugly. Some may be all three, while others a combination.
Trump Travel Ban
Trump almost immediately after taking office instituted his Travel ban from a select group of Muslim Nations including a new ally Iraq which was met with bitter resistance in the courts and from main stream public opinion. It was a move in my opinion for which Trump probably expected serious opposition to, but would quickly firm his base post election feeding prime rib to a hungry deplorable wolf pack out to show off their teeth. A year later and his Travel Ban is still tied up in the courts and is headed to the Supreme court for a finalized ruling. I believe a form of the Travel ban will be upheld. The bad and the ugly. The travel ban really will not further protect America, and was a base primer only.
Trump quickly removed the United States from the TPP and the Paris Climate Change Accord, knocking off two more campaign promises. Trumps opinion on climate change remained firm as hurricanes flooded the Southern states and Texas in what was one of the worst hurricane seasons on record. In addition, Trump would not certify the Iran Nuclear deal, again living up to a campaign promise and putting pressure back on the Iranian Regime to cooperate. The good, the bad. Campaign promise kept without regard for consequences.
On the economic front, Trump tripped the NAFTA agreement’s 90-day review clause and since that time NAFTA partners have been in a protracted three-way deadlock spanning some six or more meetings on re-negotiating NAFTA terms. This policy to renegotiate was met with more open arms on both sides of the isle and has had little domestic criticism in the U.S. Perhaps some Democrats were quietly clapping in private, especially in those Dem states reeling from blue collar hardship. The Good. Can only be good for all Americans if they can get better terms from the threesome.
DACA soon came into focus and Trump chose to end the program but left its final demise in the capable hands of Congress. Since then, dreamers have become political pawns, as the party titans duel out competing agendas on immigration and other concerns. We should see the debate heat up as budget wars begin in February. The President has made a DACA offer which includes the Wall and a doubling of dreamers to be protected. The good, the bad and the ugly. A solution needs to be found for the dreamers, and Trump has left it to Congress to figure out giving timetables and deadlines to complete so the negotiations don’t turn into a never ending saga. Sad thing is, real people’s lives hang in the balance while special interest on both sides battle for a win.
The Armed Forces
Trump garnered support from the military as he gave his Generals more control over strategic operations and other military decisions. Soon after Generals would put Trump to the test and recommend a troop surge in Afghanistan. Trump swiftly approved building trust between his Administration and the military all the while alleviating anxiety European and Asian allies had about possible American First policies taking America out of its international security responsibilities. The Good. Politicians making military decisions based on potential political fall-out never turned out good for America, and usually prolonged military engagements or limited their effectiveness.
During the opening ceremonies of NATO’s new billion plus dollar headquarters, announced his disappointment with NATO allies’ failure to live up to their financial and military budgetary agreements set and agreed upon during the Obama Administration. A few months later the EU would announce that in light of Trump’s pressure among other things such as the Libyan failure they would work together to shore up their military defenses outside of NATO to alleviate pressure on the U.S military being the only Western military able to compete on a global scale. The good. Finally! Europe is a very rich nation with a proud military tradition. They need to help the U.S defend the West.
Trump would go head to head with “Rocket man” in and attempt to pressure Kim Jong Un, China, Russia and other regional players to help bring the North Korean regime to its heals and give up its Nuclear ambitions. North Korea realising an active and credible nuclear program perhaps has saved them from direct military intervention from coalition forces has no incentive to de-nuclearize its armed forces.
Iraq and Libya serve as prime examples of why North Korea has stayed its course, pitting a President who does not like to lose against a desperate Dictator clinging to power at the head of an atom.
Other than fiery rhetoric it did not seem Trump made much progress other than heightening tensions, sending additional naval and missile defences to the South and some added Chinese retractions of coal shipments.
However by December, it appeared that a year of pressure may have sprout sweat to Kim Jong’s brow when in a rare move asked for meetings and cooperation with the South for the Olympics and to open dialogue. Moon, South Korea’s President would give Trump credit for the recent North Korean cooperation but did not cite what exactly Trump did. The good and bad. My advice is less name calling and more cooperative pressure on North Korea.
In December 2017, Trump would go where no President has gone before and declare Jerusalem the Capital of Israel and move the U.S Embassy from Tel Aviv-Yafo to Jerusalem. The timing was much better than his predecessors had to work with as Middle East Politics have rapidly changed over the past decade or so.
Islamic extremists and Middle Eastern Governments priorities have shifted from the Palestinian plight to forming Islamic caliphates on one hand to internal strife and the importance of regional influences on the other. A perfect example is the proxy War in Yemen between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Trump seized the moment at an optimal time to help move negotiations forward by partially closing the arguments on either side’s rights to Jerusalem as a Capital. Trump left out detailing a concrete border, most likely to leave East Jerusalem up for grabs by the Palestinians in future negotiations.
The fear of major unrest and violence which stalled the last three Presidents from implementing the Jerusalem Embassy Act never materialised, further proving times have changed in the Middle East and perhaps now is the time to push to finally find a solution. A two state solution Trump confirmed was still his priority. The good, the bad and the ugly. The Israeli -Palestinian peace negotiations are probably some of the toughest negotiations any politician would ever be asked to participate in.
Drain the Swamp
During the Trump campaign a familiar slogan was thrown around to “drain the swamp”. While there is little evidence of this occurring, perhaps what Trump really meant was “drain the Federal Government” and he has moved at lightning speed in this regard. Lefty G goes into detail on some of his actions in his recent post Trumps first year.
Trump would begin his cuts of the Federal Government aiming at cutting out inefficiencies and would slash more than 1,000 rules and regulations making it easier for small and medium sized business to flourish. I would classify his attempts at reducing government and creating more efficiencies as primarily the bad and the ugly, however perhaps his work on small business regulations and the VA put a little good to his overall “drain the swamp” policies.
Tax Reform and Jobs Act: Savior of the Trump Presidency
To end the year and put Trump in a winning position as 2018 neared, he had one of his biggest campaign promises fulfilled, that of the passage of the tax reform and Jobs Act. It also had an added bonus of a partial repeal of Obamacare and opened ANWAR to oil and energy exploration which Alaska had been fighting for, for many decades.
In one fair swoop, the senate and house passages may just have saved the Trump Presidency. Recent polls show Trumps approval ratings climbing and House and Senate Republicans mid-terms elections polling becoming more positive as well.
Trumps first year would be distorted by the main stream media whose reporting would focus mainly on the bad and the ugly. I can see why a frustrated Trump would turn to Twitter and Fox News to help get out his good and positive news, which is plentiful if you take a hard look at everything he has done.
Where I do disagree with Trump, is his insistence that the main stream media was maliciously producing “Fake News”. CNN, ABC, the Washington Post and the New York Times and others he has attacked are reputable news organizations and I find it hard to believe they would purposely make false or fake news at the risk of their long term reputation. However I do agree their emphasis is anti-Trump, but that is no crime. As a recent entrant into political opinion blogging myself, I have found a new respect for journalists and the care taken to ensure a correct article is made public.
To end, I challenge the anti-Trump movement to stay focused on keeping this administration accountable yes, but to also change your attitude and help Trump become successful and take a hard look at everything he has done and not just perceptions of the bad and the ugly. America needs to work together again.