As a populist with some isolationist and protectionist streaks, Trump has an interesting view on a number of issues, which is why he managed to win the nomination, and ultimately, the Presidency. In regards to immigration, Trump went further than any of his rivals in his rhetoric, his strong views speaking to the (mainly) white working class, many of whom felt their views on immigration had been ignored for far too long. Many even crossed over from the other side, a number of Rust Belt voters having voted Democrat for most of their lives.
Trump made a number of policy pledges during his campaign. Some, such as the ‘Wall’ and tax reform, were enduring parts of his campaign, whereas he performed a number of u-turns on others- most notably his hugely controversial comments on punishing women for having abortions. The five most enduring positions, however, have borne heavy weight upon his presidency…
5 Biggest Policy Positions:
The Wall- Ah, the wall. Many remember it from Trump’s campaign, the cry of ‘Build the Wall!’ a huge part of his huge campaign rallies. It signalled Trump’s tough talk on immigration, as he (and a lot of his followers) had huge concerns about illegal immigration coming from Mexico and other Central/Southern American countries. One only has to search the Trump parts of social media to see many of his supporters still dreaming of that wall, and calling for it to be built. Unfortunately for them, there has been no building of it, even though he’s been in for a year. Apart from a few possible photos, there has been no credible process. It’ll probably start, but it’s not looking as though it’s going to happen anytime soon.
‘The Muslim Ban’- I air quote this as Donald Trump did say he wanted to ban them from entering until a credible vetting process could be brought in. Even Trump must have realised that this was pretty unfeasible, as he soon downgraded his campaign pledge. Unlike the wall, however, quite a lot of progress has been made here. Only a week after his inauguration, Trump signed Executive Order 13769 which banned people travelling from the following countries for 90 days: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, with an exception made for religious minorities. He also suspended the Refugee Admissions Programme for 120 days and also mandated the reduction in Syrian refugees. This caused an immediate firestorm, even in his own party, and many took to the streets and airport to protest. Many also criticised that more controversial countries such as Saudi Arabia were not included, almost certainly because of its strategic and economic importance. Later on, bowing to pressure, Trump signed another executive order which removed the exemption for minorities, removed Iraq from the list and exempted visa and green card holders. In June 2017, the Supreme Court allowed certain provisions, but removed others. We are yet, at the time of writing, to hear a final decision.
Repeal and Replace of Obamacare- A staunch opponent of Obamacare, Trump promised a repeal and replace with a better, more affordable and less government-orientated policy. Unfortunately for ’45, this is not going well. The most notable of these is the American Health Care Act of 2017. Key provisions included eliminating employer mandates and reducing Medicaid payments. It was criticised by many for not doing enough, especially as it was shown that millions would be left uninsured, with the number going up every year. In the end, the Bill was defeated by Murkowski, Collins and 2008 Republican nominee, Senator John McCain. McCain had just returned from hospital after being diagnosed with a brain tumour and a huge focus has been made on his vote. In the end, the two usual rebels and McCain voted against it. In the Senate, the Graham-Cassidy amendment was introduced. When Rand Paul, John McCain and Susan Collins all stated that they would not vote for it, and with others such as Cruz indicating they’d be against it, they knew there was no hope. McConnell announced in September 2017 that a decision was made that it would not be vote upon.
Taxes- A huge proponent of tax reform and reduction, Trump has had limited success on this front also. This far, he has proposed having three tax brackets instead of seven, as well as the usual wish of lower taxes in general. The House seems not to have done much here, instead focusing on repealing Obamacare, and there have been many critics of the plan. Those critics believe that it is not doing enough to take away the burden from lower class families, and that it ultimately favours the rich. It seems that the biggest cheerleader for this is Paul Ryan. One only has to look at his Twitter, which is essentially a timeline with buzzwords such as ‘size of the postcard,’ ‘IRS,’ ‘Reagan’ and the big favourite ‘tax reform.’
North Korea- How do you solve a problem like Kim Jong-un? No one really knows. Early on, Trump was more interested in China taking over, hopefully reigning in the North Koreans due to their stronger influence both in the region. Now, however, he seems more interested in the US having a role. Things got to a head in July 2017, when North Korea tested two missiles that had the capability of reaching parts of the United States. A little later, Trump angrily promised that if they tried anything else, they would be met with ‘fire and fury,’ to which North Korea responded by threatening to hit the US territory of Guam. Following this, Trump promised that they really would regret it if they touched Guam, and that he would unleash hell upon the East Asian country. There’s no doubt North Korea will test more weapons, so we’ll just have to see what happens next.
Trump’s Approval Ratings at Some Key Points:
January 15-18th 2017, Last Poll before Inauguration- 37% approve, 54% disapprove and 6% unsure (Fox News- Registered Voters)
January 20th-22nd 2017, Inauguration- 45% approve, 45% disapprove and 10% unsure (Gallup- All Adults)
February 7th-8th, DeVos assumes office- 43% approve, 53% disapprove and 3% unsure (Public Policy Polling- Registered Voters)
February 21-22nd 2017, One Month in Office- 45% approve, 48% disapprove and 7% unsure (Public Policy Polling- Registered Voters)
March 4th-6th 2017, Trump accuses Obama of tapping his communications at Trump Tower- 43% approve, 51% disapprove and N/A for unsure (Gallup- All Adults)
April 6th-9th 2017, Forces bomb Syrian airbase in Homs- 48% approve, 47% disapprove and 5% unsure (Politico- Registered Voters)
April 13th-17th, MOAB is dropped in Afghanistan- 43% approve, 52% approve and 4% unsure (Ipsos- All Adults)
May 6th-9th, Trump fires FBI Director James Comey- 41% approve, 51% approve and 8% unsure (YouGov- All Adults)
May 31st-June 6th, Trump plans to withdraw from the Paris Accords- 37% approve, 55% disapprove and 9% unsure (Investor’s Daily Business- All Adults)
August 14th-15th, Trump releases a statement regarding the rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia- 35% approve, 51% disapprove and 14% unsure (Various- All Adults)
October 1st-3rd, Trump condemns the tragic shooting in Las Vegas- 39% approve, 54% disapprove and 8% unsure (YouGov- All Adults)
October 10th-11th, Trump meets with Canadian PM Trudeau- 34% approve, 52% disapprove and 15% unsure (Lucid- All Adults)