The 30th January President Trump will give his first State of the Union speech before the Congress of the United States. Probably, part of his speech will focus on the negotiations between democrats and republicans concerning the government shutdown. Following his style, in an inquisitive and infuriating speech, he will blame the agreement delay on the Democratic Party and its defense of immigrants at the expenses of the military and of the US society in general (as he published in his last tweets).
An unorthodox President
Twitter is the communication channel chosen by a president from which it could be said that is at least atypical in his modus operandi, although he describes himself as “contemporary presidential”. Nevertheless, trough Twitter his simplistic speech, which lacks moral and political responsibility, manages the highest connection with the public. A public of more than 100 million followers spread out in the whole world.
In Europe, just a few have a positive image of Trump and his Administration, or his circle of trust. In fact, the focus is exclusively in his scandals, his difficulty to achieve his electoral promises, his lack of leadership and expertise in international politics compared with the overrated President Obama.
It is still difficult to believe that the magnate—addicted to television (only to channels considered sympathetic to him) and with no interest in reading, according to the recently published book by Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury—becomes president of the first global power. That’s why many defend the existence, not proved yet, of an electoral fraud by the interference of Russian hackers. The possibility of impeachment is more remote than we believe, since it is a complex process in which both chambers—at this moment in the hands of the Republicans—need to come to an agreement. This could change if the investigations find irrefutable proves and if the democrats manage to get the power of the chambers in the Midterm Elections next 6th November.
The current tenant of the White House holds the worst popularity rating ever, below 40%, according to the latest index published. An unpublished figure for the first year of a president. Nevertheless, this really does not seem to matter to his grassroot electorate.
Achievements and electoral promises
The economic situation has improved in the last year and the expectations could not be more positive. According to Forbes Magazine, the GDP has risen, and economic optimism has manifested both in the stock market and in investors. Unemployment has decreased, even though it is true that this has been the trend of the last 17 years and that 2017 is the year in which it has less decreased after 7 years of reduction during Obama Administration.
With the approval of both Chambers, Trump has been able to carry out his much-vaunted fiscal reform, with an important tax cut to the big corporations. Without going into further detail, Tim Cook, from Apple, declared that the corporation has increased its investment plan thanks to this policy and among its results it is expected a creation of more than 20.000 new job positions.
In domestic politics field there are many things to do yet. Trump claimed that Washington was a swamp which needed to be drained and carried out a dismantling of the “administrative state”. The regulatory tyranny is an idea very welcome between libertarians and republicans. In this sense, he said he would reduce expenses by joining different positions and amortizing the administrative staff. This has been translated in a late assignation of charges or not realized. Above all, in the Department of State. Many vacancies are not covered, and it has been prioritized the ones related with the Department of Justice, where they named the conservative judge of the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, as well as other younger judges and conservative ones, categorizing the country in an even more conservative ideology for the next decades.
Regarding international trade, Trump, in line with his protectionist speech, has abandoned the negotiations related with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (the TPP) and has started to review the NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement). Nevertheless, he has not made more progress in this direction and the US still attracts more foreign investment than all the BRICS together.
Likewise, he has published the National Security Strategy, in which it could be said he is a continuist of the former Administration. In fact, he has kept the US troops in Afghanistan and other conflict zones. The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel capital, which could be materialized by 2019, seems not to have had more consequences than local revolts and has answered thus his promises to the Jewish lobby.
On the other hand, he has not abolished yet the sanitary reform plan approved by Obama (Obamacare), even though he has eliminated the obligation of having a health insurance to those people who are working. Therefore, 32 million of US people do not have medical coverage. He has neither build the wall with Mexico and in the middle of the negotiation regarding the government shutdown, Mexico remembered in a statement that they will not pay for the wall.
That is, his achievements have been focused in domestic policy and he has only looked outwards with very specific objectives. If Trump will renew in 2020, something that is not inconceivable, we will see him more active in his foreign agenda. By then, in what would be his second mandate, he will already have had enough path and process of learning for redirecting his tweets in a less damaging way for the external image of the US and the international politics in general.
A world led by Trump
We do neither face an example of morality, nor a new Nobel Peace Prize. The recent women’s movement “MeToo” could cause him more damage than what is expected, something that could be reflected in the elections in November and have negative consequences for the Republican Party.
Trump is an impulsive leader, hot-headed and little reliable, which implies that the US goes in the direction of losing international leadership. Above all, in Africa and Latin America, where Russia and China are advancing in positions of economic influence, commercial and, consequently, political.
The stressed relations with North Korea, could lead to a bigger conflict. Nevertheless, the first democracy in the world has a system of checks and balances that nowadays works. In fact, before the pettiforgeries via Twitter between the North Korean leader and Trump, the Congress is working in a new law project which will stop its president from activating the nuclear bottom without the permission of the chambers. This could seem at least reassuring to you, the rest of us will be at the expenses of a tweet message.
Cristina Crespo Palomares is Project manager of the Institute Franklin-Universidad de Alcalá and member of the Board of Trustees of FAES Foundation.
Translated by María Maseda Varela