My Republican counterpart, Drew Liquerman, recently wrote an article claiming that the “leftist mainstream media” has ignored the fact that our president has “had one of the most successful first years of any American president”. I’d like to challenge him, or anyone else of the same viewpoint, to consider, just for a moment that maybe, just maybe nearly the entirety of respectable media isn’t being dishonest. Or pursuing a political agenda. Or supporting a massive “deep-state” conspiracy to undermine the president. Maybe the president actually hasn’t had a great first year. In fact, he may have had one of the worst first years of any American president, ever. I’m not going to be talking about things conservatives are happy about, like Neil Gorsuch being nominated (ignoring the fact that a previous nominee, Merrick Garland, was denied confirmation for nearly eleven months, an unheard of course of action with nearly no legal precedent). Similarly to Drew, I’m happy that the US economy, at least on paper, seems to be doing well, largely due to lingering after-effects of President Obama’s policies.
We live in a post-truth era
Instead, I’ll be focusing on aspects of the Trump presidency that are universally and undeniably negative. Conservatives might applaud tax cuts, or increased border security, but I struggle to see how they can applaud the largest drop in trust in the US since the Iraq War. Furthermore, autocrats around the globe, from President Duterte in the Philippines, to Chinese Premier Xi Jinping have been emboldened by Trump praising their regimes and their actions. Trump praised Premier Xi, calling him “a good man,” despite well-documented reports of the Chinese government arresting and torturing critics, repressing religious, political, and civic freedoms and brutally cracking down on protesters. Trump himself seems to embody some of these traits, readily attacking the media as “dishonest” and “fake,” and threatening legal action against his critics. We live in a post-truth era, where autocratic leaders can easily manipulate media surrounding current events to bolster their regime. Although we have nowhere close to a perfect record, the United States has served as the defender of democracies and democratic values for the past three quarters of a century. Under the Trump administration, that has changed. Instead of standing up for civil rights around the world, Trump is letting those rights erode away.
Trump, in many ways, has had one of the worst first years of any modern president
So when Republicans say that Trump has had “one of the most successful first years of any American president,” I’d like to ask what they’re using to measure success. If they define success, like Drew Liquerman has, by enacting conservative legislation and proposals, even in that area he hasn’t done well. He sits at record low approval ratings for this early into a presidential term, his legislative achievements are limited to one tax law, and many of his executive actions have been blocked due to unconstitutionality. In terms of international standing, the rest of the world is laughing at us. Trump’s buffoonery and bizarre tweets are fodder for endless jokes, and his childish behaviour regarding the Russia investigation, football and other hotbutton topics are unacceptable given his power and position. Trump, in many ways, has had one of the worst first years of any modern president. We have lost much of our international standing and good will regained since the Iraq invasion, and, while the economy is strong, Trump’s tax policies and deregulation are only accelerating the income inequality that is driving our society apart.
This article is a response to another viewpoint. The opposing opinion can be found here.