22nd November 2020
Former President Trump at the White House (Credits: The New Yorker)
The United States of America met their 45th Republican President Donald John Trump on the 20th of January 2017. His presidential campaign revolved around ‘Making America Great Again’ and mostly targeted privileged white conservative Americans who had lost hope in the ‘American dream’ and needed a facelift to their reality. He brought back the importance of putting Americans first when it came to jobs and giving them a sense of purpose.
During Trump’s tenure as the leader of the free world, he made controversial decisions and statements that have affected not only his people but also the international climate. The year 2020 has been incredibly challenging, with the Corona virus engulfing countries and bringing many economies to a standstill. Trump's inability to control and contain the virus and the initial deals he withdrew from has moulded America into its current state.
Donald Trump's legacy will be remembered with his ‘America first’ ambition. He kick-started this initiative by pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which involved 195 countries that were committed to reducing their greenhouse-gas emissions to maintain global warming from deteriorating any more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Even though the US has contributed to 28 per cent of the world's carbon emissions, Trump decided to quit. Trump worsened the damage when he went on to revoke the "Climate Action Plan" that allowed oil drillings such as fracking which would only be detrimental to the earth and accelerate climate change. He had no motive to save the environment; he was determined to keep coal and oil industries functioning at full capacity.
We saw the uncertainty grow when Trump approved initiatives that were going to harm the environment but in return, create jobs and build the economy. In 2016 when Donald Trump was running for President, he was determined to create 2.5 crore jobs, which was more than the historic 1.8 crore jobs that were created during Bill Clinton's Presidency. The plan had potential but did not carry through. Between 2017 and 2019 he was able to create only 66 lakh jobs, and with the pandemic, it cost the economy 2 crore jobs.
When Trump took office, he reinvented an initiative called "Rebuilding America's infrastructure Plan", On February 12, 2018, President Donald Trump announced his administration's long-awaited framework for rebuilding infrastructure in America. The bill presented by the White House was dedicated to federal dollars, meant to empower and encourage local spending, and attract significant private sector investment in a wide range of infrastructural project initiatives. In particular, the Plan proposed a federal investment of $20,000 crores into the nation's infrastructure to stimulate at least $15 lakh crores in new infrastructure investment over the next ten years. The plan also proposed to shorten the approval process for certain projects that would prepare the workforce for the future.
While the country struggles to recover from the recession they are in, the national debt, which increased by $8 lakh crore, from $18 lakh crore when Trump took office, to a staggering $ 27 lakh crore, is taking a beating. With national debt a concern, Trump shut down the government for a record-breaking 35 days because of indecision about the government spendings. Trump wanted $500 crore to fund the long-standing promise of The Wall on the US-Mexico border, but since they were unable to reach a consensus, the government was forced to shut down with many federal workers on a leave of absence.
If the country had not seen enough, the "zero tolerance" policy on illegal border crossings thanks to Trump's presidency was a sight that was treacherous on humanity. This policy led to the separations of at least 5,500 families and with innocent children being put in cages at detention centres. Even after an executive order has passed, 545 children are still in ICE (Immigration and customs enforcement) custody. His administration also went on to ban travellers from some predominantly Muslim countries as one of its first acts.
In 2019, the Trump administration set stricter standards for legal immigration applicants. Those in need of public benefits like Medic Aid or Food Stamps found it harder to be a part of the system. They began to limit legal immigration and cut the number of refugees allowed in the country by 80 per cent.
Donald Trump fighting for another four years at the White House saw obstacles that only grew. The world was faced with an unprecedented pandemic. The severity of the virus was misunderstood by the President, which cost thousands of lives.
On March 13, 2020, Trump declared a national emergency to control the spread of the pandemic. He signed four stimulus laws that provided $25 lakh crores to agencies, businesses, and families dealing with the crisis. He launched Operation' Warp Speed' to develop and distribute safe vaccines and treatments in record time. He used the Defence Product Act to produce 1,00,000 ventilators.
Donald Trump’s time in power did make significant changes for America. He reshaped the federal judiciary, which will always have an everlasting impact on the country. So far, Trump has installed two supreme court justices and 187 judges to the federal bench, an appointment for a lifetime. The Washington post-analysis showed that 25 per cent of Trump's nominees make up the US circuit court judges. These courts give the final say in US politics and setting precedents that can shape the country for years to come. With the conservative judges, what he has put in place shall have an everlasting impact on judicial proceedings.
Trump’s ability to empower his country, he was instrumental in establishing the Space Force, another branch of the armed forces, making it the sixth branch. The bill was signed at the cost of $73.8 crore on defence spending as part of the National Defence Authorisation act. The Space Force was created to protect the planet from potential extra-terrestrial threats. The details of the space force are still awaited.
With Trump, a self-claimed capitalist himself, after three years in office, came together with his tax reform. It will remain as his significant achievement, as it made changes to the corporate tax, bringing it down to 21 per cent from 35 per cent while also providing temporary benefits for individuals and their families. Critics argued it was a windfall for massive corporations at the expense of the middle class. Supporters believe it will unleash the true potential of the economy in due time.
America witnessed a whirlwind of emotions in its new political atmosphere between 2016-2020. Donald Trump, the 45th President was a controversial candidate, to say the least. He was a leader that went unrecognised, a businessman that treated the world as a big corporate organisation. His presidency had a highly volatile environment that kept the world on edge, and even led to the resignation of 38 important officials of the white house- some holding key posts, such as John Bolten, who was the National security adviser, to the Secretary of the press Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to the very recent departure of Chief of Staff Mike Mulvaney- during his tenure.
Trump’s narration and his desire to be right and powerful was an act that will be remembered not just by the American people but by the international community, that previously held utmost respect and importance for America as a country. Throughout his presidency, America's reputation was tarnished internationally after the American people chose a man that had various criminal accusations ranging from financial fraud to sexual assault under his belt. The American people's act of choosing Trump as a president went on to show their temperament to the rest of the world.
Donald J Trump is a part of American history. He has left a legacy behind that will always be recognised and criticised. Now it's time for the United States of America to welcome their 46th president and build their own legacy.
(Sources: The Balance, Business Insider, BBC, The Washington Post)
Edited by: Suditi Jha