How will history judge Trump?

Last year, a poll of 170 political science scholars from the American Political Science Association, ranked Trump the worst of the worst at 44th out of the 44 presidents of the United States. The survey ranks each President from 0-100, with 0 meaning ‘failure’ and 100 meaning ‘great’ – Trump scored 12 points.

Source – The NY Times

Trump would probably receive a higher ranking were it not for his boasting or rhetoric. He has achieved a large number of accomplishments which appeal to his right wing base:

  • Tax reform
  • Two Supreme Court judges
  • Travel ban
  • Reduction of federal regulations
  • Criminal justice reform
  • Action against Nato members
  • Wage growth
  • Job creation
  • Moved US embassy in Isreal from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
Obama and Trump by campaign promise after two years

Source: Politifact

Trump does however continue to boast and make inflated claims. He has not authored the biggest tax cut in US history and the US stock market has had its worst year since 2008, the start of the last worldwide recession.

Building a border wall paid for by Mexico was Trump’s signature issue during the election campaign.

Congress has approved $1.7bn in funding for 124 miles of new and replacement barrier since Mr Trump entered the White House, but estimates for building the president’s desired wall range from from $12bn to $70bn.

In December, after criticism over the lack of progress on the wall from some conservative commentators, Trump triggered the longest ever partial shutdown of the US government – it ran for 35 days.

Source: Congressional Research Service

When the stock market was performing well, Trump took the credit, however as soon as it took a turn for the worse he blamed others, such as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

There has been a massive turnaround of staff, unlike any other administration. In just two years Trump has already had three chiefs of staff, two secretaries of defence, two attorneys general and two secretaries of state – In total Trump has had a 65% change in senior advisors.

Rate of Turnover Among Senior Level Advisors in First Two Years

Source: The Brookings Institute

He also continues to tweet with abandon and associates himself with dictators such as Putin and Kim Jong Un.

He refused to condemn the Saudi’s after the murder of Khashoggi and claimed there were fine people on both sides in response to the neo-Nazi protest in Charlottesville.

He has called his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen a “rat” and slurred Stormy Daniels, by calling her “Horseface”. It is claimed that Daniels had a Trump when Melania was pregnant with Barron.

Trump’s approval ratings among Republicans remain strong – 88% according to Gallup. His overall approval rating – 37% according to Gallup – is on a par with Ronald Reagan’s at the two-year mark.

Approval rating by President after two years in office

Source: Gallup

The republicans performed very badly in the mid-terms when they lost control of the House of Representatives. They did slightly better in the Senate, however Trump seems to be losing traction with moderate Republicans. At the two year mark of presidency, Trump is the only president in history to not achieve a 50% approval rating in the Gallop poll.

Donald Trump has made the presidency more un-presidential and less trustworthy. By departing from executive norms, he has made domestic and foreign policy-making more impulsive and led by tweet. He has also made the US presidency more isolated by abandoning traditional alliances. By threatening to declare a national emergency in the funding row over his US-Mexican wall, he has also indicated a willingness to discard constitutional norms.

Trump’s White house has been subject to huge amounts of turmoil and has turned his presidency into a perpetual campaign, where Trump goes from venue to venue speaking to his supporters who chant ‘Make America Great Again’, who are often adorned in the infamous red caps.

Trump has normalised the abnormal, he has seemingly survived multiple political attacks which would have bought down any previous president, and it is sometimes hard to see when the US political system will actually take a stand against him. His post truth politics have been highly effective when it comes to the support from his political base.

Trumps administration advisor Conway used the phrase “alternative facts” in response to arguments over the size of his inauguration crowd after former press secretary, Sean Spicer, had claimed that it “was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period”.

Future presidents will feel empowered to push executive power, as Trump has done, to push constitutional norms and this is a dangerous precedent.

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