There is no doubt that Donald Trump is one of the most controversial figures of the 21st century. Thanks to his character and media bias, the 45th president of the United States has simultaneously become the most loved and most hated man in the world. As a result, his legacy will also be portrayed in significantly different ways.
His successes cover two main areas:
Prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the American economy experienced strong GDP and job growth. Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017 provided major tax breaks to corporations and wealthier individuals. The policy, among other things, reduced the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%, and the top individual tax rate dropped from 39.6% to 37%. This boosted economic growth and helped reduce the unemployment rate to a 50 year low of 3.5% in February 2020. The Tax Foundation has indicated that those who earn more than 95% of the population will receive a 2.2% increase in after-tax income. Those in the 20% to 80% range would receive a 1.7% increase. As a result, the Trump administration significantly benefitted the American worker, as average hourly earnings surpassed all-time highs in March 2019. The net worth of all Americans rose to $128 trillion through September of 2020, which is up almost 30% in four years. This rise in wealth can be largely attributed to the rising valuations of stock portfolios, homes, farms, and properties. It reflects the rising profitability of both large and small American businesses. The Trump administration increased the overall prosperity of Americans before the onset of Covid-19.
Contrary to the media’s painted picture of Trump as a tyrant, Donald Trump is the first President since Jimmy Carter (US president from 1977-1981) to not involve the US in a new war or conflict and is now one of only 4 US presidents to achieve this. Among other diplomatic achievements, Trump mediated on Abraham Accords, which have seen four Arab nations establish relations with Israel and have reduced Middle East tensions.
Trump also became the first president to walk on North Korean soil and agreed to withdraw nearly 2500 troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. His diplomatic track record was imperfect, as his dealings with China produced a mixed bag of results. The US trade deficit with China needed to be addressed, and it was reduced incrementally. However, his rationale behind the trade war of bringing manufacturing jobs back to America did not materialise. While his diplomatic record was not perfect, it was much better than anything that the media or Democrats had anticipated.
His failures (arguably) cover two main areas:
Many people believe that the media was too harsh on Trump. This may be true. However, it must be said that the media may not have been so harsh if he wasn’t so ruthless towards the media also. Had Trump decided not to entice the media, then we could have seen many news agencies reduce their hated towards Trump. This would have perhaps resulted in a more united nation, which in turn could have reduced the extreme amount of social unrest that was caused in the latter stages of his term in office and possibly increase the chances of his re-election. Sadly, the consequences of Trump and the media’s mutual hatred have threatened democracy and peace across the United States, and the fruit of these actions could bear throughout the course of the decade.
Trump made little effort to win over those who voted against him. He often used Twitter as a platform to rub his success in his opposition’s faces or remind them of their stupidity. Trump subsequently became increasingly hated among those who opposed him, and his “sore-winner” attitude caused an increased voter turnout among liberals in the 2020 US election. During the 2020 election, Trump displayed to the world that he was not only a sore-winner but also a sore-loser by blaming his loss to Biden on voter fraud (from which no evidence was delivered). The sore-loser side of his legacy was further portrayed in his refusal to attend Biden’s inauguration.
Trump pleased his voters by carrying out the policy implementations to address perceived issues that he pitched to his voters during his campaign. Some of these actions were clamping down on immigration, reducing taxes, cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, and implementing trade tariffs on China. However, like every politician, he had his fair share of unfulfilled promises, such as reducing US sovereign debt. Despite Trump’s policy achievements and shortfalls, his legacy will likely be poor due to the divided nature of the US, as proven in the riots and chaos that occurred during the 2020 election. Trump’s unwillingness to be gracious in defeat to Biden will likely further damage his legacy, as he lives up to the personality stereotype of wealthy New York businessmen.