April 29th marked the last of President Donald Trump’s first one hundred days in office. Although this measure is an arbitrary method of gauging the progress of an administration, it is widely used and was even touted by President Trump himself on numerous occasions. But, in a country that is so divided, how is the President’s success gauged? Whose standard gets to decide the success of President Trump’s administration? Before his election, Donald Trump released a contract to the American people, where he outlines his intentions for his first hundred days in office. According to this contract, Trump makes three chief promises: first, to clean up corruption in Washington, second, to protect American workers, and finally, to restore security and the constitutional law. To begin this reflection of the Trump administration’s first one hundred days, an assessment of how well he managed to uphold his own promises must be made.
The first of Trump’s main promises was to clear Washington and the White House from corruption, or as Donald Trump called it, #draintheswamp. According to his contract, President Trump listed six ways he would do this. Of the six, he has completed five of these proposed measures through executive orders. This includes eliminating two regulations for every one that is implemented, imposing several bans on domestic and foreign lobbyists, and as promised, these were completed within the first thirty days that Trump was in office. According to this standard and those in his base, this could be perceived as quite a successful venture. However, as cabinet picks were being announced throughout his first thirty days, it became evident that Trump would not be draining the swamp at all; instead, he filled it with Wall Street elites including several Goldman Sachs alumni such as Steven Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross. With that being said, it is difficult to determine whether President Trump has fulfilled his first promise, but it is clear that the swamp was not drained.
The Trump Administration’s second promise was to “protect American workers.” They proposed that they would do this through seven actions, including renegotiating or withdrawing from NAFTA and withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), among similar actions. Some of these actions are a little bit vague and therefore hard to gauge. For example, Trump promised to direct the Secretary of Commerce to identify and eliminate all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact the American workforce. Additionally, Trump has backed down some of these proposed actions: for instance, in his contract to the American people, he promised to declare China as a currency manipulator. However, since taking office, Donald Trump has changed his opinion of China and President Xi Jinping, claiming that “goodwill and friendship were formed [with Xi], but only time will tell on trade. With all that said, Trump did successfully take the majority of these actions, including withdrawing from TPP, lifting restrictions on energy reserves including coal, natural gas and oil, and approved energy infrastructure projects such as the Keystone and Dakota pipelines.
The last major promise made within this contract to the American people is to “restore security and the constitutional rule of law.” In order to achieve this promise, Trump proposed taking five actions, including revoking the executive orders implemented by the Obama Administration, selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court, cancelling federal funding for sanctuary cities, removing eleven million undocumented immigrants, and suspending immigration from terror-prone countries. In this case, the Trump Administration has made efforts to take all five of these actions. Trump has revoked several of Obama’s executive orders and policies. Trump has also successfully replaced Justice Scalia with Neil Gorsuch, although it was done using a nuclear option, allowing Gorsuch to be confirmed with 9 votes less than the required 60 votes. In his first thirty days, Trump issued an executive order that called for sanctuary cities to comply with federal laws or to risk having their federal funding cut. Additionally, Trump’s administration has begun to remove illegal immigrants and has bolstered the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Finally, one of Trump’s most controversial actions, the immigration ban, was implemented on January 27 but was quickly struck down. Trump did issue a revised version of this executive order on March 6, only to have it blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii.
Whether you agree with these policies or not, it does seem that the Trump Administration has followed through with the majority of the actions promised in this particular contract. Of course, the question of whether or not President Trump’s first one hundred days have been successful or not is going to depend largely on whom you ask. A supporter will likely claim that Trump has been successful. Trump himself when so far as to claim that he has “enacted more legislation and signed more executive orders than any other president in over half a century.” While it is true that he has signed executive orders at a historic rate – at least within the 50 years – he has yet to pass any major legislation within his first one hundred days. All things considered, it seems that the measure of the first hundred days is as vague as it is arbitrary. Maybe it is time for America to retire this measure of presidential success and replace it with a more decisive one.
By Stephanie Yaacoub
Please note that opinions expressed are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and values of The Blank Page.