It’s unlikely there’s been a public figure as universally divisive as Donald Trump since he took over leadership of the most powerful nation in the world in early 2017… in recent history at least.
His time in the top job has been so eventful that it’s hard to believe that his reign as President of the United States of America has ticked to just over 12 months.
From the alleged involvement of Russian hackers in his election campaign, his much debated policies on trade with China and strong stance on North Korea, through to accusations of affairs with porn stars and frequent Twitter rants – his time at the top has been filled with headline grabbing moments.
But stepping back from the public and media debate for a moment, the big question is, has Trump been effective in his leadership and progressed the reform agenda he set out to?
Amongst all the noise, it’s easy to forget he was elected on a clear platform of policies and the promise to ‘make America Great Again’.
So how is he doing? Is the US back on the fast-track to greatness? While it’s still early days, here’s my take on the good, the bad and the controversial during Donald Trump’s time at the top.
While it takes time to implement change and the full suite of election promises are yet to be progressed, it’s hard to fault Trump’s commitment to his reform agenda. In the first 12 months, he’s implemented tax cuts for working Americans, lowered the corporate tax rate, slapped trade sanctions on China and pulled-out of the Paris climate change deal, which he believed was stifling America’s economy.
At the same time he’s made inroads into some of his more controversial changes such as pulling out of trade deals like the trans-pacific partnership, travel bans on specific ethnic groups and rolling back Obamacare – his predecessor’s attempt to extend healthcare to more people.
Only in time will we be able to judge the true impact of these measures, but if nothing else, they are signs of a leader who understands the people who voted for him and is staying true to promises that delivered him the Presidency.
In his first 12 months of leadership, Trump has clearly signalled the intention for the US to remain a military force and continue in its role as a ‘protector’ for much of the world. His tough stance to missile testing by North Korea led to a potential historic meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un, while he’s made it clear that his country will not stand for the threat of nuclear force from any country, including Russia.
He also took steps to carry out his promise to ‘annihalate’ Islamic State, dropping the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the US’s arsenal in Afghanistan.
Green shoots in the economy
There were some positive signs emerging in the US economy throughout Trump’s first year. Economic growth was solid, companies showed signs of spending more and job indicators, including in manufacturing, were mostly positive. Again, time will be the judge of how much these green shoots are attributable to the policy decisions of the Trump administration, but the signs were positive nevertheless.
One of the most controversial moments in Trump’s first 12-months was the introduction of a travel ban to prevent people from selected countries, predominately Muslim countries, from visiting America. The ban is still being contested in the courts.
The justification for the move was that it would make America safer, but was a crude measure viewed by much of the world as no more than discrimination on religious grounds.
Withdrawal from Paris Agreement
Depending on where you sit on the issue, Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change could be seen as either a mighty triumph or huge failure.
What it has done is left America – the most powerful nation in the world – at odds with the rest of the globe (or at least the 200 countries who are signatories to the agreement) on what could be the most important issue in the history of humankind.
In pulling out of the agreement, the US was left with Syria and Nicaragua as the only non-signatories, with both countries since signing onto the agreement and leaving the US as the only non-signatory.
On such a vital world issue – backed overwhelmingly by science – it demonstrates an extraordinary lack of leadership from one of the world’s most important leaders.
There’s been plenty of controversy in Trump’s first year of Presidency, to the point that it’s made it almost impossible to impartially assess his performance.
Granted, much of this controversy has been self-inflicted. His insistence on using Twitter as a mouthpiece (in total he sent more than 2500 tweets in his first year), the seemingly constant flow of sackings and the endless number of alleged affairs that have emerged have all deflected attention from how effectively he is performing in the top job.
While time will reveal the ultimate judgement of Trump’s success or failure, if the remainder of his term is going to be as eventful as the first 12 months, it’s going to be a wild ride.
Campaign Promises – How Has Trump Performed?
|Implementing widespread tax cuts
|Paris Climate Deal withdrawal
|A conservative Supreme Court nominee
|Reviewing and withdrawing from trade deals
|A ban on Muslims from entering the US
|Rolling back Obamacare
|Moving the Israel embassy
|A border wall paid for by Mexico
|Deporting all illegal immigrants