James Bradshaw analyses Trump’s first year in office and points out some possible scenarios that we might experience during his second year as president of the United States.
It’s been just a year since Donald John Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, and my has the time just flown!
Given the apocalyptic predictions of the left-liberal European media and political elite at the time, the mere fact that humanity has avoided extinction should be viewed as an achievement.
In fact, the normal political system has continued to operate as before, with Congress, the Senate and the Supreme Court continuing to act as checks against an imperial presidency, just as the Framers of the US Constitution intended.
The rule of law remains in place, journalists continue to report news: most of it real, some of it fake.
No new major wars have been entered into, no nuclear strikes have occurred. Iran is still there.
Catastrophic climate change has not been any more noticeable than before, although the Paris climate accord probably seems more noble and consequential thanks to the fact that America withdrew.
While the Copenhagen accord achieved nothing, the US was involved and so it was hard to explain why nothing happened. Now with the US to blame again, the Paris accord will be everything the virtue signallers want and more. Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Président.
In spite of Mike Pence’s best efforts, American women have not yet been barred from the workplace and education and forced to become baby-breeding handmaids.
No anti-Trump celebrities have fled the United States, except Harvey Weinstein, whose hasty departure had nothing to do with the President.
Left-wing hysteria aside though, a lot has gone on. President Trump has been as unpredictable in office as Candidate Trump was on the campaign trail.
And he has had major achievements which only a fool or a journalist could overlook.
When Trump took office, ISIS remained a massive threat to the security of the Middle East and the wider world. They propagated an ideology of extreme violence from their Iraqi and Syrian base, drew sadistic recruits from across the world and exported terrorism to the streets, clubs and transportation systems of the West.
Obama joked about them being a “JV (junior varsity) team” while they swept across the desert, murdering and raping the innocent.
Trump, in sharp contrast, hand-picked a world-class military support team led by the legendary Marine General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis as Secretary of Defense and revered tank commander General H.R. McMaster as National Security Advisor, before promoting Marine General John Kelly to his current position as White House Chief of Staff.
New resources were deployed to the fight, and onerous restrictions on military decision makers were loosened. The results are plain to see: ISIS has been decisively rolled back, tens of thousands of its militants have been killed and Raqqa and Mosul have been liberated.
The JV team didn’t know what hit them.
As for the genocidal villain Bashar al-Assad, when Obama warned him of a red line regarding chemical attacks, he listened carefully and responded with sarin gas launched in the outskirts of Damascus. Obama did what he did best: nothing.
When Assad made the mistake of launching a much smaller gas attack in April, President Trump’s reply was in the form of 59 cruise missiles lobbed into the airbase from which Assad’s gas attack had come. No further chemical attacks have occurred since.
Anti-Trump voices had wailed about the effects he would have on Trans-Atlantic relations, particularly to do with NATO, but Trump’s policies have in fact yielded some success.
Previous American presidents like Obama had called on Europeans to do more to defend themselves and to meet their obligations within NATO to devote 2% of GDP to defence. They didn’t listen.
Then Trump lashed out at the freeloaders, and publicly questioned the utility of an alliance in which some members honour their commitments and others do not. The results have been impressive: Poland and Romania have since stepped up to the mark and met the 2% limit, and Germany is growing its defense budget, as are others. The increase in European firepower should help to deter any more foolish aggression by Russia.
Ah yes, Russia. The country Trump is supposedly a slave to. The Donald presented Putin with a beautiful Christmas present last month when the State Department announced it was going to supply the heroic Ukrainian military with “enhanced defensive capabilities.” Javelin anti-tank missiles will likely be in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers soon, ensuring that Russian armour crews in the Donbass will live in interesting times, if only briefly.
At home, Trump has introduced the biggest tax cut in decades, slashed regulations and opened the door to enhanced drilling and mining, including winning the decades-long battle over opening the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge where tens of billions of barrels of oil are believed to lie beneath the surface.
Growth is strong, unemployment is at a 17 year low, the Dow Jones is at an all-time high, and consumer confidence is soaring.
America’s Economy Is Great Again.
What is more, by replacing the sainted Justice Antonin Scalia with the equally-conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump has prevented the left-wing judicial takeover that Hillary Clinton’s election would surely have guaranteed.
And at lower levels in the federal judiciary, Trump has broken new ground by appointing a record 12 new circuit court judges during his first year. These judges will go on to have a profound effect on constitutional jurisprudence in the decades to come.
That’s the good stuff, and there’s been lots of it.
There’s also been umpteen examples of tomfoolery involving personnel decisions and the use of Twitter. There’s been needless spats with fellow Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The reaction to the violence in Charlottesville was appallingly stupid, and gave succour to those who seriously believe that Trumpism is code for white nationalism.
A safe Senate seat in Alabama has been squandered thanks to the poisonous influence of Steve Bannon, and by endorsing the pervert Roy Moore, Trump has damaged his reputation badly.
While his policies in immigration have far more public support than the leftist media is willing to concede, they have been both poorly implemented and poorly explained.
And the Russian investigation – though vastly overblown – continues to bubble under the surface.
As a result of these scandals and fiascos, Trump’s approval ratings are far lower than a first year president’s should be, and the narrative of a potential Republican slam dunk in the 2018 mid-terms (where Democrats will be defending 10 Senate seats in states which Trump won in 2016) has been replaced by a battle which could determine Trump’s presidency.
What then does 2018 have in store for the President?
Worst case scenario: Trump continues to choose the wrong battles, and in so doing presents his opponents with favourable terrain to defend.
Instead of focusing on the booming economy and the growing strength of America abroad, Trump allows himself to be distracted and launches futile Twitter wars. The average voter grows weary of his antics, and decides to register a protest vote in November.
Damaged by association with Trump, and divided by the efforts of Bannon to wage war against the phantom ‘Establishment,’ the Republicans choose bad candidates to contest the Senate elections in red states, thus allowing vulnerable Democratic Senators like Claire McCaskill, Bill Nelson and Heidi Heitkamp to survive.
Two or more Republicans fall short, and the Democrats take the Senate, along with the House of Representatives. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi take power on Capitol Hill.
The dwarves in the Democratic field for 2020 suddenly appear tall. Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren raises her bow in triumph and lets out a war cry.
Best case scenario: Trump learns from his first year, and comes back from Mar-a-Lago fighting hard, but boxing clever.
He bases all his messaging on America’s new prosperity, and engages in endless factory visits and job announcements, bellowing ‘Make America Great Again!’ at every opportunity and doing little else besides.
Let the Democrats decide how to counter that with their usual appeals to identity politics. The fact is American presidents don’t get turfed out of office in times of plenty.
In foreign policy, he gently pivots to a more traditional Republican position, and seeks to mend relationships with strengthening allies in Europe and Asia. The showman works on being a statesman.
He works with Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan to present a united front, and places popular initiatives at the fore of his agenda between now and November.
Crackdowns on welfare fraud which is costing honest taxpayers billions, enhanced deportations of violent criminals, some new infrastructure, and a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. Let Democrats running for re-election vote against this and explain themselves to their constituents afterwards.
Republicans hold the House and the Senate in November, and Trump looks forward to working with his own party in the two year run-up to the no-holds-barred death match that will be Election 2020.
Likely scenario: Trump remains Trump. Volatile, mercurial and outrageous. Incapable of being tamed or taught. Brace yourself for some election year tweets, as the new season of the greatest TV show on earth continues in 2018.
The Donald is just getting started, and he’s going to take all of us for one hell of a ride.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Burkean Journal.