Trump: An Evaluation

At this moment the House of Representative is holding hearings to determine if President Trump should be impeached.  I believe it highly likely that the Democrat controlled House will impeach him for pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate Joseph Biden,  American citizen and potential political opponent in the 2020 Presidential election.  Perhaps Trump is guilty as charged, but I do not believe that his alleged actions are serious enough to warrant his removal from office.  Unless other, more troublesome offenses are proven, the Republican controlled Senate will never convict him of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”  That means that President Trump’s fate will rest in the hands of the people on November 3, 2020.  That it is it should be.

But how should we evaluate this man and his Presidency?  What sort of Chief Executive has he been?  Should we re-elect him or vote him out of office?  Here I provide my own assessment of his Presidency.  But before you decide what to do with him, I suggest you read my follow-up post that I will entitle “THE OPPOSITION.”

When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the Republican Presidential nomination on June 16, 2015, I was surprised and not impressed.  I did not think he had a chance.  Personally, I favored either John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, or Marco Rubio, U. S. Senator from Ohio.  As things progressed, I was truly amazed that Trump was able to defeat many apparently more qualified contenders and gain the prize.  What little I knew of Donald Trump did not strike me favorably.  I had been especially offended by his espousal of the ridiculous “birther” claim against President Obama.

In the general election of 2016, however, I voted for Trump.  Since I was voting in Maryland, it really did not make much difference.  My vote was buried under the usual Democratic Party avalanche.  Nevertheless, my vote for Trump was absolutely assured once Hillary Clinton was chosen to head the Democratic slate. I was a long-time opponent of the Clintons.  In fact, it was Bill Clinton’s election in 1994 that moved me to change my party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.

I did not have high expectations for Trump as President, but I did have hopes that his business background would equip him to do some positive things for the American economy.  I also approved his tough talk about China.  I believed China had been taking advantage of us for years, especially in the area of trade, and that it was long past time for us to stand up to them.

Trump’s Presidency has been both a joyful surprise and a distressing disappointment.

First, the positives:

  • By executive action, Trump eliminated many burdensome and often useless regulations that have hampered business activities for years and had become even more onerous under Obama. Trump’s move was particularly helpful to small businesses, and we have seen a healthy growth in that area for the past three years.
  • Trump sponsored legislation to reduce the tax rates for most income earners, freeing up great amounts of money for consumer spending and capital investment. The economy responded with an increased rate of expansion and a burgeoning stock market.Stocks reached new highs, benefitting the millions of citizens who are invested in retirement accounts.
  • Under Trump, employment rates, especially among blacks and Latinos, have reached historic highs. Unemployment compensation payments and food stamp distributions are going down.
  • Trump is appointing conservative judges to the Federal courts, men who believe in enforcing the law as written instead of interpreting it in the light of current sensibilities. Not everyone views this as a positive.  I do.   
  • Trump has seen to an increase in the defense budget as needed to restore military capabilities that had been serious depleted by a constant series of wars in the Middle East.
  • Trump and his military commanders eliminated the ISIS caliphate and hopefully reduced the treat of terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies.
  • Trump succeeded in persuading members of NATO to pay more of their fair share for mutual defense.
  • Trump declares himself to be a firm friend of the religious community and of the nation of Israel. His actions appear to in keeping with his words.   
  • Trump negotiated much more favorable trade deals with a number of foreign countries, mostly on a bi-lateral basis. The important trade treaty with Canada and Mexico awaits approval by the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Trump confronted China about its unfair trade practices and backed it up with threats of tariffs (including a few actual implementations). Despite howls of woe from free-traders, Trump’s gambit seems to be working.  The Chinese appear ready for a new, fairer deal.
  • Trump is implementing a program for so-called “enterprise zones” in large cities designed to fight urban blight and benefit poor inner-city backs.
  • With the assistance of those few black leaders willing to work with him, Trump succeeded in pushing through criminal justice reform measures that will ensure more equitable treatment of persons convicted of non-violent (mostly drug-related) offenses.

The negatives:

  • With the possible exception of Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump is the most un-Presidential person to ever occupy the White House. He can be reasonably pleasant if he wishes to be, but often he is rude, crude, and downright obnoxious.  He rails against anyone who offends him or opposes him.  He engages in vicious ad-hominem attacks against others, sometimes without apparent justification or reason for doing so.  On occasion, Trump has even hurled ugly insults against members of his own party, including Senators John McCain, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.  Opposition leaders fare worse, and he has favorite names for them – “Pocahontas” Warren, “Shifty” Shiff, “Lying” Nancy, etc.  Members of the mainstream media are a constant target of his barbs, and he refers to them as the “fake news.”  Television and press pundits appear to hate Trump as much as he hates them, and that has the unfortunate effect of skewing their news coverage.
  • The country was deeply split along partisan lines before Trump came into office. His divisive rhetoric has poured oil on the flames of discord.  I have never seen the country so politically divided.
  • Trump often exhibits braggadocio, excessive hyperbole, and downright prevarication. He will sometimes contradict himself within the course of several sentences.  The fault often appears to be his rather casual approach to the English language.  He is often very imprecise in his wording, far removed from the careful, lawyerly, non-committal utterances of most politicians.
  • Trump’s bombastic and disruptive approach to governance produces conflict with Congress and hampers progress on beneficial legislation in a number of areas, including immigration reform, health care legislation, and funding of much needed infrastructure projects.
  • Although Trump can truthfully claim credit for a much improved economy, he has done nothing to confront the deficit and our growing national debt. His tax reforms have actually increased our annual deficit, and interest on the debt takes a greater percentage of our revenues every year.
  • Trump has also failed to adequately address health coverage problems and other pressing national concerns such as the impending financial collapse of Social Security and Medicare.
  • Trump withdrew from the Paris Accords and acts as if a worldwide climate change problem does not exist.
  • Trump and Congress have not been able to work out a comprehensive solution to the southern border problem. Trump has coerced cooperation from Mexico and certain Central American countries in addressing the refugee problem, but the jury is still out regarding his methods and their effectiveness. 

Because of his careless rhetoric, Trump’s critics often accuse him of racism and xenophobia, but I believe these charges are unjustified .  Trump is an equal opportunity insulter. Blacks and whites, males and females, straights and gays are equally likely to be praised or attacked by Trump depending or whether or not they support or oppose him.  His attitude toward foreign leaders and their people is much the same.  Judge him by his actions, not by his words.

This is my evaluation of Trump and his Presidency.  Have I been fair?  Before deciding whether or not to support him in 2020, you should also consider THE OPPOSITION.  

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