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In 2016 Donald Trump entered office as a newbie, with no previous political experience, but well versed in business and reality TV. A year later, as the President of the United States, he is widely labelled as a racist and many are already calling for his impeachment. Trump’s transition into politics has been far from smooth and is constantly populated with controversy.
Since he announced his candidacy in the winter of 2015, it seems that he is the one everyone is talking about. He has all of a sudden become the centre of attention with the media feeding off of almost every expression, action, or tweet he makes. This has allowed him to exercise his power in a different way and it seems to be working.
His campaign was a testament to this, which was something that was constantly surrounded by a cloud of controversy. The main focus of his campaign was to “Make America Great Again” and to “shake up the establishment.” Much of his pledges kept true to his presidential intentions and each was as outlandish and impractical as the last. He most notably promised to build a “wall” on the Mexico-US border and even repeatedly said that the Mexicans would pay for it. He also proposed a Muslim ban which would introduce extreme vetting for every single Muslim that entered the US. Both of these pledges accurately represented the xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric at the heart of his campaign. Among other things he also vowed to a renegotiate America’s trade deals, withdraw from NATO, and bomb ISIS.
Despite all of this chaos though, leading up to the election Trump prophesied that presidency would “change” him, claiming that apart from the “late, great Abraham Lincoln” he would be “more presidential than any president that has ever held office.” But is this really true?
Esteemed historians, such as H. W Brands and Douglas Brinkley, certainly don’t think so. According to NPR, both Brands and Brinkley imply how the debate is more of a question of how much Trump has changed presidency. He is still the same reality TV star and businessman he was before he had taken office, but now, under Trump presidency has become “rather episodic” in which the media feed off the next sensational thing that comes out of his mouth. Brinkley references the traditional “sobering up” of previous presidential incumbents, but Trump is the outlier. His ridiculous and outlandish approach towards US politics has grossly undermined the role of President, in a tenure which has been defined by him abrogating much of America’s obligations, being implicated in the Russian email scandal and strangely sacking his former FBI Director, James Comey. This kind of lone wolf conduct has also meant that although Trump represents the Republican party, he is not a real Republican. He has managed to distort the agenda of his own political party and has remoulded it to reflect his own ethno-nationalist and populist views.
Moreover, a collection of controversial actions, events, and comments have made the president a target of much condemnation in society. This nature of increasing political volatility and uncertainty has meant that Arizona senator, Jeff Flakes resigned which helps to push Trump's political agenda. His inability to be a peacemaker has also meant that Trump instead has been “partisan and divisive” most notably blaming the Puerto Ricans for the destruction of Hurricane Maria and even putting New York senator Chuck Schumer at fault for the horrific terrorist attack in Manhattan last year. Previous presidents like Nixon and Carter have made grievous errors in the past, however, Trump, goes a step further, as he has significantly weakened US Democracy “through neglect and indifference to the traditional roles of the presidency.”
Historians have already started to consider a period of “post-Trump” politics suggesting that his controversial legacy will outlive his tenure. Trump has not really changed, but the shockwaves he continues to make in politics have considerably changed the US political landscape. Also despite his deficiency in discharging his duties, Trump has fulfilled his promise to “shake up the establishment” and “bring disruptive change to Washington” for the foreseeable future.
The other inevitable controversies that will arise during Trump’s four-year term remain to be seen. All we can do is wait.