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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

The Trump Years

President+Donald+J.+Trump+served+from+2016-2020.
President Donald J. Trump served from 2016-2020.

An overview of events that defined the Trump presidency

Unarguably one of the most controversial presidential terms in American history has just ended, with a country that seems to have become more divided as time drags on. President Trump has left very few people in America on the fence, there are few who do nothave a strong liking or dislike of Trump. College Republicans President Chrisitan Wright, 22, commented that Trump is both a trendsetter for his party but also has many opposers within their own party like that of Mitt Romney and Nikki Haley.

Election of 2016

Donald John Trump, the 45th president of the USA, started his presidency on Jan. 20 after winning the electoral college but losing the popular vote by 2,868,686 votes. Though the last time someone had lost the popular vote but won the electoral college was only 16 years prior to the election of George W. Bush, this caused outrage as many groups of people saw his presidency as a threat to their rights. 

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Outside of the threats to these communities, his policies might present to these groups, hate crimes directed towards racial, sexual and religious populations grew since the beginning of his presidential campaign per the DC Policy Center. During the first couple of days of his presidency, there was the 2017 Women’s march across the country protesting Trump’s past treatment and statements regarding women—attendance that outnumbered that of his inauguration. 

Immigration Policy

Immigration was the main Trump policy throughout all four years of his administration. Even beginning his campaign with false information about immigrants from Mexico stating “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Trump used many individual cases in “sanctuary cities,” like that of San Francisco and the Shooting of Kate Steinle, to make unauthorized immigration seem like a much bigger problem than it actually was. The anti-illegal immigration feeling that stoked his rise in the 2016 Republican Primaries has been proven to be unjustified as the Pew Research Center reports that the total number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States has been on a steady decline since 2007 and unauthorized immigrants have been proven to commit less crime than American citizens.

“Build the Wall” was one of Trump’s most flashy and catchy phrases throughout his campaign and presidency but is arguably one of his most controversial policies. A more catchy phrase than a practical one, “Build the Wall” doesn’t even acknowledge how the United States could handle an unauthorized immigrant crisis (if there was one) due to the majority of unauthorized immigrants having overstayed visas instead of people crossing the border. 

According to Wright, “Trump, like other presidents, has policies that somewhat match what they said on the campaign trail but also some of the main ones have radically different implementation than what was promised,” the biggest one being the wall in his opinion. “Trump promised a wall that was funded by Mexico, which never happened even though Trump did increase immigration enforcement,” the most controversial aspect of that being the ICE detention centers.

Tax Cuts
Trump and the Republican’s “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” fell under criticism as many believed that it was mostly tax cuts for the rich. While this belief is justifiable, all income groups did receive cuts, though the highest income groups got more than those in lower groups. 

The justification for cuts like this comes from the belief in “Trickle Down Economics,” an economic theory, typically associated with Ronald Reagan, that states that decreased taxes on the wealthy will increase investment and their wealth will “trickle down.” Studies deny that policies that follow this theory actually work as income inequality has increased greatly since the Reagan presidency and tax cuts.

Division

Our country has become more divided as politics has become a common topic among more people. Trump’s questionable past mixed with his social and economic policies divide many as some want a more tolerant society and others who believe that tolerance has gone too far or shouldn’t go any further; some want more government programs in order to create safety nets for society and some want to pay less in taxes. These differences may come down to a different understanding of reality or just the different things we see on television, but it is undeniable that they divide Americans.

Wright stated that “Our society is very divided, it is sickening, and it is something that has always been, people couldn’t stand Bush and then McCain back in the 2000s. George Washington laid out his biggest fear in his farewell speech as fighting factions in government which is a reality we now live in. Division today mirrors the level of tenseness during Lincoln and the 60s. This time of political hostility needs to stop though I don’t know how to end it.”

The president of the College Democrats, Molly Wells ‘21, said “Trump didn’t create our shortcomings, but he exposed the degree to which we live in them. The past four years exposed inconsistencies in our values and character as a nation. ‘Making America Great Again,’ as it turns out, includes a willingness to tolerate racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and it doesn’t end there.”

Pandemic response

Recently the United States passed 400 thousand deaths due to the coronavirus and has had more total cases than any other country in the world for months. Many see Trump’s administration’s response to the crisis as a failure. Many blame him for not locking down early enough or for trying to end lockdowns too early. While a lot of the control on whether to lock down or not is held by the states, Trump still bears fault for misinformation about the pandemic. 

From promoting Hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, as something that can help with the coronavirus, to downplaying the deadliness of the virus, to questioning the whether the lockdowns were worth the economic toll Trump spread dangerous misinformation that has possibly prolonged and worsened the pandemic. Wright believes that while Trump mishandled the virus at times and had a mix of wrong and right decisions his administration’s overall response is hard to judge without hindsight saying “it is too early to judge the executive’s decisions during the pandemic” as we do not know how another person in that position would act.

In the last couple of months vaccines have begun to roll out, a lot quicker than many expected, though there have been some problems with the effectiveness of the rollout in certain places around the country. Trump’s administration fell into controversy again after not being able to acquire the country as many vaccines as promised in September by the end of 2020

Many fear that anti vaccination sentiments and an ineffective rollout will hurt the country’s ability to create an effective herd immunity and truly return to normal.

Election of 2020 and “Stop The Steal”

Despite winning the popular vote by over 7 million votes, Joe Biden’s presidency came down to tens of thousands of votes in swing states like that of Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada. Having spread misinformation about the validity and trustworthiness of mail-in votes in the months before the election, Trump and many of his voters believed that the election had been stolen. 

Videos of what many Trump supporters believed contained faking or throwing out ballots circles certain parts of the internet, though most all of these claims were found to be false. Trump and others filed and lost over 60 cases in close states in an attempt to contest the results of the 2020 election. 

Angered by their unfounded belief that the election had been stolen, tens of thousands of Trump voters planned to march in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6  to protest the joint House and Senate session to certify the results. The event ended with hundreds of people forcefully entering the Capitol building, five deaths including one police officer and hundreds of cases filed against participants for acts such as domestic terrorism, insurrection, and attempted assassination.

The events of Jan. 6 have led social media platforms to ban Trump and his supporters who spread misinformation on their apps. Articles of Impeachment have been filed and passed by the house against Trump as a result of the event. 

Conclusion

Trump’s presidency will leave a lasting impact on American politics. The American people seem more divided ideologically now than any time in recent memory. Many believe that it will take longer than 4 years to heal the divide in our country. Wright said, “There is a lot of division between politicians and reporters that Trump definitely fueled. Many of the problems that Trump helped create are not going to be fixed in just 4 years.”

Misinformation was a main theme of the Trump presidency from the pandemic, to mail-in votes to the election. Wells said “Trump’s presidency has taught us a lot about ourselves and the country he was elected to lead. We’ve learned that false news spreads faster and deeper than truth in our country due to the massive audience for misinformation.”

Written By Cameron Carsten

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