In one full year of the Trump administration, the White House and its leader have been responsible for an incredible number of controversies, faux pas, and nonstarters. People who praise Donald Trump’s accomplishments fail to take a critical look at the President, or ignore the underlying facts entirely. The Trump administration’s short-term wins will significantly hurt the long-term health of the conservative movement.
The most obvious criticism of the administration is in the handling of foreign policy, a realm that Trump during his campaign called himself his number one advisor. “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain.” While the U.S.’s relationship with North Korea has never been good, Trump has done nothing to de-escalate tensions with the rogue hermit kingdom. The president has turned to Twitter to personally insult Kim Jong Un. Tweets calling Kim “rocket man” and bragging that the American nuclear button is “bigger – and it works” are harmful to the stability of the region. While Kim deserves all the hatred in the world for how his oppressive regime stomps on human rights, Trump firing insults at him through the Twittersphere has turned into a metaphorical dick-measuring contest.
Donald Trump seems to have little understanding of sustaining his party and message. When it comes to filling positions in the executive branch, the administration has left something to be desired. Currently, the cabinet has less than 50 percent of its positions filled. A common talking point of his supporters is that this is the fault of Senate Democrats, who refuse to approve Trump’s nominees. However, less than 70 percent of positions have even received nominations. This is far less than any administration in recent memory. Trump seems to take a top-down view of the White House, as evidenced by his response to a question on vacant government positions in November, “I am the only one that matters.” In reality, these cogs in the bureaucratic machine are essential for implementing policy in a long-lasting and effective matter. These vacancies expose the Trump administration to massive liabilities regarding the implementation of policy.
While Trump’s reelection campaign officially started on the day of his inauguration, the grunt work of running a successful campaign has not materialized yet. Trump’s various Make America Great Again rallies across the country in the past year have created the appearance of a perpetual campaign, but it may not be as effective as first thought. According to original research done by the Washington Post, Trump’s campaign stops during his first year in office have largely been in states that he won. This is a stark contrast to the campaigning of previous incumbents, who usually focused on swing states instead of those that can be banked on going their way.
Trump also does not seem interested in helping the GOP win the midterm elections coming up in less than a year. He spends all of his campaigning focused on himself, rather than providing support for his party. As evidenced by Trump’s embarrassing support of Roy Moore, the President is not taking the upcoming elections seriously. In Obama’s first midterm election in 2010, the Democrats lost the majority in the House of Representatives hindering all legislative hopes for the rest of his presidency. Trump should look at Obama’s 2010 as a warning for the future.
The reliance of the Trump administration on executive action is concerning. The recent trend in leaning on executive action rather than legislative action is not new, as Obama was well known for his abundant unilateral orders. Trump’s love for implementing policy from the Oval Office is a carbon copy of his predecessor. Even though both houses of Congress are controlled by his party, Trump has still signed 58 executive orders in his first year, the greatest number of executive actions since Jimmy Carter. Excessive use of executive action is a gross misuse of presidential authority, circumventing the checks and balances the Founding Fathers put on our federal government.
Of course, I will not change anyone’s mind on Trump’s first year. The President is a polarizing figure, with everyone clinging to their own opinions of him. History will ultimately decide the legacy of his administration, yet I am confident that his first year will not be remembered positively.