By Tedi Rollins
Elm Staff Writer
It has been over a year since Donald Trump was officially elected as president of the United States. The heated election season of 2016, which resulted in Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote and Trump winning the electoral college, left many Americans baffled.
Many Trump voters said that what they wanted was a change in our country’s political system, and they believed that he would be the person to achieve that. But how successful has he actually been in his year as president?
Following his victory, Trump made claims that diverged greatly from the rhetoric of his campaign. Jenna Johnson of The Washington Post said Trump “laid out a centrist agenda focused on infrastructure projects and growing the economy, and told fellow world leaders that he would ‘seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.’ Above all, he called for unity as he pledged to represent all Americans.”
These are concepts we have yet to see in his presidency.
Instead of bridging the gaps between groups of people, we have seen more extreme separation. The resurgence of white supremacy movements, the continuing prevalence of gun violence and mass shootings, and the multitude of hate crimes taking place are inarguably the opposite of what Trump claimed would happen during his presidency.
Even if Trump cannot be blamed for the extremism in this country, his hateful rhetoric has certainly contributed to it. White supremacist groups have supported him, and he has done nothing to consistently discourage neo-Nazi ideals and demonstrations.
“Abandoning his precisely-chosen and carefully-delivered condemnations of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis from a day earlier, the president furiously stuck by his initial reaction to the unrest in Charlottesville. He drew the very moral equivalency for which a bipartisan chorus, and his own advisers, had already criticized him,” said Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times.
Trump chose to further alienate the general public by refusing to criticize these extremist groups, which target many U.S. citizens.
Following the Charlottesville riots, Trump said, “I think there is blame on both sides,” instead of condemning the group that began the violence. His decision to maintain a neutral stance during the horrific events did nothing to unify the American people. Ignoring problematic behaviors does not make them disappear.
Still, Trump has yet to successfully complete any of his promises.
Steve Kornacki, a writer for NBC News, said, “His first major legislative achievement remains elusive, and the signature policy promises of his campaign — Obamacare repeal, the wall, a trillion dollar infrastructure blitz — stand unfulfilled. The tax cut plan now taking shape represents Trump’s last, best chance of putting a meaningful win on the board heading into the midterm year.”
Trump is big in words but lacking in action, in spite of having both chambers of Congress dominated by his own party. His inability to get things done is even worse when compared with past presidents.
“Eight years ago, former President Barack Obama was handed similar power at the start of his presidency; by this same point, he’d already enacted a massive stimulus program and a fair pay law, and was months away from signing the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law,” Kornacki said in his article.
Evident in his approval ratings, it is a popular opinion that Trump has been unsuccessful thus far in his term. He has the lowest approval rate of modern presidents, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Jennifer Calfas of Time said, “With a 59 percent disapproval rating, Trump’s approval margin is -22 — the only president to have a negative margin in decades.”
It seems that for Americans, actions speak louder than words. If Trump hopes to better his image and ratings, he will need to work on achieving some of the ideas he proposed during his election. While building a wall is not the ideal action for most, developing “partnership, not conflict” may be. Uniting the people of our country is something that must be done, regardless of whether it is Trump or someone else who achieves it.