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Political Rumblings

Looking back at the Trump presidency, I’d say that overall, he was a qualified success.

Love them or hate them, Mr. Trump and Mitch McConnell were able to fill a huge number of vacancies in the federal judiciary, including moderating the liberal leanings of the 9th Circuit and replacing 1/3 of the Supreme Court.  Did that mean much when Trump was disputing the election?  No.  Will it mean anything when constitutional questions make their way through the courts?  Probably.  Will it mean anything when the Right starts to practice lawfare at the same tempo as the Left has been doing my entire life?  I hope we find out in the next few years.

His get-tough stance with China and Iran, coupled with a charm offensive against North Korea and the Arab states of the Middle East, appear to have been effective at containing the latter, while improving conditions with the former.  The work he has done to normalize relations between Israel and Muslim countries may have long-term positive ramifications for the entire region.  Whether Mr. Biden preserves and continues these accomplishments remains to be seen.

Putting the Europeans on notice that Uncle Sugar was no longer willing to expend the vast majority of the money and blood to defend Europe against a foe that went home a generation ago was a good first step, but I fear that it will do little long-term good.  Without a withdrawal from Europe or at least a wholesale redeployment of every servicemember, plane, tank, and supply depot to places like Poland and Hungary, the Europeans will never take us seriously or shoulder their own burdens.  I expect that Mr. Biden will put America back on the hook for keeping Europe feeling secure and not paying a fair share of their own defense budgets.

When it comes to gun policy, I’d give him a C or maybe a B-.  We saw few new federal gun control measures, but I saw no rolling back of anything of significance either.  I credit the former to the Republicans controlling the Senate for the duration of the Trump administration, and I credit the latter to President Trump not seeming to have much interest in gun rights.  He talked a good game, but I saw no enthusiasm or commitment to that cause.  That being said, he was not openly hostile to gun rights.  I expect the next four years are going to make up for that with a vengeance.

Efforts to ‘drain the swamp’ were, to be honest, almost wholly unsuccessful.  Without changing the laws governing federal employment, any measures Mr. Trump put into place via executive fiat will just as easily be swept away by Mr. Biden’s pen.  For that to have happened, the Republicans needed to have a majority in both the House and Senate, and the backbone to follow through on their rhetoric.  They lost their House majority in 2018, and never really had the backbone.

Not completing the Keystone XL Pipeline and border wall projects prior to the election gave Biden easy propaganda wins to throw to his supporters after the inauguration.  All the stops, including legislative action while his party controlled Congress, should have been pulled out on these, even if only to present them to his successor as a fait accompli.

Abrogating the Iran Nuclear Deal and pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord were a step in the right direction.  But instead of just announcing that we weren’t going to play anymore, I believe that Mr. Trump should have submitted both these and all of the other pending treaties/international agreements/John Kerry pinky swears to the Senate for ratification.  Having a Republican Senate vote these agreements down would have made it much harder for the next Democrat to just renegotiate their way back into them.  The court fight the Democrats likely would have put up to keep them out of the Senate, with claims that they aren’t really treaties, would have also given us an opportunity to prune the self-claimed power of future presidents to sign and enact treaties, but not call them treaties.

Speaking of treaties, Mr. Trump’s renegotiation of NAFTA will likely have almost as much impact on our nation’s future as his appointments to the federal bench.  Adjusting our rights and obligations when it comes to trade with Canada and Mexico to a more advantageous tilt might help American industry weather the coming storm.

I believe that once the emotional side of all this settles down, historians will see the Trump presidency as a success.  Yes, he didn’t accomplish everything he set out to do, and a lot of what he did do will be reversed or at least degraded.  But the long-term benefits of his foreign policy and judicial nominations will have a lasting impact on our nation’s future.

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1 Comment

  1. Old NFO

     /  February 4, 2021

    Concur with all! Like him or hate him, he DID get things done for our betterment!


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