Analysing the promises, kept and broken, of the Trump presidency can be a seemingly daunting task. It is made even harder due to the fact that the infamous 45th president of the US is known to have indecisively taken both sides on several major issues, much like his Canadian counterpart. Arguably, it would not be ridiculous to label him as two faced! However, despite this initial hurdle I will endeavour to give a summary of the Trump presidency’s first (and potentially final) term by going over the campaign pledges and whether or not the TV personality turned politician is as successful as he claims.
Perhaps his most famous claim, of ‘build the wall’ seems to have dropped out of the news. Whilst, if a centimeter had been built for every time the phrase was shouted the wall would’ve been completed two times over, how successful has this endeavour actually been? Well, it seems that this endeavour has been followed through more than many expected it to be. The wall is in fact currently under construction, whether or not one thinks it has any value, it is indeed being built slowly but surely. However, the contention around the success of this promise lies in Trump’s further statement often following ‘build the wall’ . The next part of his campaign call was, ‘and make Mexico pay for it’, the sentence which prompted former president of Mexico Jorge Ramos to exclaim ‘I am not going to pay for that f****** wall’. Unfortunately for Trump it seems Mr Ramos is closer to the truth. There have been no steps taken to make Mexico fund the wall. Overall, on this issue I would say Trump has been relatively successful. Whilst the funding source for the project was not what was promised, the actual cost of the wall, when looking at the price as a proportion of the budget as a whole, is a relatively minor outsource of government spending. What’s more, the overall promise is being achieved.
The next key promise of the Trump campaign was undoubtedly the draining of the swamp. As a successful billionaire born into immense wealth Trump was the perfect candidate to represent an anti-establishment, outsider candidate, running in order to shake things up. This promise was a prominent campaign claim made by Trump, and one which resonated very strongly with a great deal of disillusioned voters across the country. However, one quick look at Trump’s cabinet and who he surrounds himself with indicates the exact opposite. Trump has not drained the swamp, but instead decided to take a long, not so relaxing, bath in it. Trump’s cabinet, especially in the beginning of his term, has been consistently stocked full of Goldman Sachs insiders, Republican mainstays and War Hawks. Nothing screams anti-establishment like stocking one's administration with big bank lobbyists and republicans who have been around since Abraham Lincoln. So, on the issue of draining the swamp I’d say it is very fair to judge Trump as being unsuccessful.
Another key promise of the Trump campaign, most likely the one that resonated most with middle America could be the promise of bringing jobs back to the US. Whether taken by Mexico, China or Canada, Trump promised to return them home. With a powerful message such as this one it isn’t surprising that he managed to strongly push through the supposed blue wall of the ‘Rust Belt’. This is an area which, primarily due to outsourcing and global competition, has been left behind in terms of employment and societal support leading to the first decrease in life expectancy in the US in recorded history (primarily due to suicide and drug addiction). Despite this rhetoric, however, Trump has placed little attention to this specific topic. Early in his administration he deregulated the coal industry in an attempt to boost jobs in the sector. This policy, on the contrary, just increased profits for the owners, with barely any job increase. Overall, outsourcing has actually continued to increase under his administration. Whilst the relatively low unemployment rates are often hailed as a success in this area, upon closer examination it is clear that the people that he promised to help have received no support and there are record levels of underemployment in the economy.
Overall, I’d say the Trump presidency has been an odd one (hot take I know), being relatively unsuccessful. However, in comparison to other presidents and the realisation of their campaign promises, Trump is most likely closer to being just below average. Trump’s term has clearly not been good, but it has not been as Earth shatteringly atrocious as many will have you believe.
Image - Flickr (Gage Skidmore)