Shortly, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.
As I’ve described before, his victory on November 8, 2016, was a true political miracle, with the world and America boundlessly better off than it would be under a Hillary Clinton Presidency.But the 2016 race is over, and with Hillary off somewhere in the woods, the Trump Presidency, and the challenge of assessing his success in office, is set to commence.
So while I, and many others supported the Trump run for President, what is the criteria we should now gauge the effectiveness of his Presidency?
Clearly, this measuring should centre around 6 core promises Trump made on the campaign trail, which I will continue to reflect upon throughout his Presidency.
1- Immigration/ countering Islamic extremism
Immigration proved to be the centerpiece of the Trump candidacy, with his famous promise to ‘build a great wall on our southern border’, earning scorn and praise alike. If Trump is to be a successful President, there are numerous actions on immigration that will be required.
First and furmost, he needs to stop the flow of illegal immigration, through whichever means necessary. American citizens, like Australians in 2013, have shown a marked desire to regain their national sovereignty, through gaining control of their borders. Illegal immigration stemming from Mexico, which currently occurs in the millions, must be quickly stopped. This is an underpinning feature of Trump’s campaign, and if he does not achieve this, or act significantly to do so, his Presidency will be a betrayal of millions.
Trump has also promised to deport millions of illegal immigrants, who are the ‘bad ones’ as he calls them. This also has to occur, which involves cutting off funding to many of the ‘sanctuary cities’ across the United States, and reinstating the rule of federal law. As for the remaining illegal immigrants who are peaceful, law- abiding people, their fate should be decided after illegal immigration and the ‘bad ones’, are deported from the country.
And as for the ‘great wall’ that Trump promised, it would be brilliant to see enormous areas of walling constructed across the US- Mexico border. But this also has to be practical and be constructed in an efficient manner. And there has been some question over whether or not this famous wall will be constructed. So while it will be a broken promise if Trump does not proceed to create an ‘impenetrable wall’, halting the invasion of illegal immigration is a far more important task.
Trump has also expressed skepticism over the influx of Syrian refugees. Through executive order, Trump can halt this flow from the Middle East, to prevent would- be jihadists hiding amongst millions of legitimate asylum seekers.
While this would form part of Trump’s immigration plan, it would also be part of his plan to counter terrorism, and to ‘get radical Islamic terrorism the hell out of our country’. Moreover, Trump could also smash Islamic State, along with designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, to effectively counter the scourge of Islamic extremists.
Trump made trade a crucial component of his campaign, and without his promises to refix trade imbalances, he would not have won the rust belt which guided his path to victory. So trade is an enormously important feature of what a successful Trump Presidency might look like.
On trade, Trump has already been off to a good start, indicating that he will withdraw from the job- killing TPP.
Trump also must ‘renegotiate’ the nature of the NAFTA trade deal as he promised.
Further, Trump must stop the flow of US companies to Mexico through installing a tariff as he promised, to additionally fulfill his campaign promises.
Trump has also stated that he will label China a ‘currency manipulator’, an important part of his ambitions for US trade. Evidently, the one- way nature of the US- China relationship must change, and some element of confrontation, (albeit non- militarily), should be pursued.
It is still not entirely clear whether Trump opposes free trade as a whole, or opposes it based on the grounds of the deals the US is engaged in.
But at the very least, a successful Trump Presidency should enact substantive change in the status- quo of American trade relationships.
3- Foreign policy:
Foreign policy is an area in which Trump departed from many of his fellow Republicans, and yet formed an important aspect of the campaign.
So what should Trump do to be a triumphant President in the realm of foreign policy?
He must ensure that the US remains out of foreign interventions in the Middle East, which have proved catastrophic for US interests and those of the broader region.
While Trump has been critical of US involvement in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, the next future war that could to be looming, is a potential US confrontation with Iran.
Now let me be clear: Iran is a sworn enemy of the United States. And if Trump knows for certain, and only then that Iran possesses nuclear weapons, pre- emptive strikes on their nuclear sites will be appropriate.
But with the neo- con wing of his party desperate to intimidate Iran, Trump would do well to avoid all-out war with Iran. And if American troops go into Iran during his Presidency (a very different thing to bombing Iranian nuclear sites), this will be a massive disappointment after past decades of militiary failure in the Middle East.
Trump has also promised better relations with Russia, both over fighting Islamic State in Syria and in Eastern Europe. Trump has alluded to easing US interference in the Syrian conflict, of which it has no vital interests, and if he let Assad, Iran and Russia, bang heads with Islamic State for some time and then come to pick up the pieces, this would be a sensible move.
In Eastern Europe, a solution is more complex. Trump should move to restructure NATO, and refocus efforts on countering Islamic extremism, a far more potent threat than it was 26 years ago. But now Trump finds himself with former ‘satelite’ Soviet states, in addition to Baltic states within the NATO alliance. This is something that deeply enrages Russia, and is regarded as breaking promises the US once made to end the Cold War. So how could he best handle this dilemna?
While you can see that Eastern European countries are threatened by Russia’s influence, whose airforce repeatedly delves into their airspace; Russia also feels threatened by US troops on their doorstop. The best thing I believe Trump can do with Putin in this area, is to ‘cut a deal’ as he repeatedly promised.
For mine, the best deal would be as follows, Russia be demanded to halt its incursions into the airspace of Baltic countries. And then, NATO would be required to withdraw from states which were an actual part of the Soviet Union, such as Estonia, and Lithuania. US and NATO troops would still remain in Poland and other ex Soviet- satelite states, so if Russia ever seriously considered invading Estonia and others, there would not be a guarantee, but it would likely feel the brunt of militiary force. But Russia blatantly invading these countries with the level of US military deterrence, seems an unlikely scenario.
As for Crimea, it is ethnically Russian and a historically Russian area. Moreover, US actions were provacative in the events leading up to Putin’s ‘invasion’ of the area. So as Russia is the dominant power in the region, Crimea is to remain a part of Russia for the forseeable future. As for a potential Russian invasion of broader Ukraine, again this is highly unlikely, which should be dealt with when/ if the time comes.
Trump also understands that China is a major geopolitical rival, rather than Russia. So looking to continually bait the Chinese over Taiwan, would be a smart way of Trump jabbing China in a subtle, yet meaningful way.
But if this confrontation with China involves any pre- emptive militiary use in the South China Sea, this would be unwise, and a contradiction of Trump’s anti- interventionist streak.
Trump has vowed to create vast numbers of jobs, and to be the ‘greatest jobs President that God ever created’. Time will tell if this promise comes to fruition, and if it does, look for ‘tremendous’ growth in coal and oil production.
Not only would enhanced energy production create jobs for millions of unemployed and boost the US economy, but it would aid American leverage and influence in global affairs.
No longer will the Saudis and the OPEC cartel dominate oil and manipulate prices, for with a successful Trump Presidency, some timely competition would arrive.
Moreover, boosted American oil production would be a great victory for Trump, as the US would no longer rely on backward, Islamic theocracies, such as Saudi Arabia.
5- Nominate a conservative to the US Supreme Court:
Despite an indifferent past as a New York progressive billionaire, Trump, with the influential backing of prominent evangelical Mike Pence, Trump has promised that he is now a conservative, and will nominate a constitutionalist to the Supreme Court.
After the Republican- controlled Senate has blocked President Obama’s nominations for years, Trump’s selecting a genuinely conservative pick for the Supreme Court, is considered non- negotiatiable.
Trump is expected to nominate a pick within the first month of his Presidency, and this will likely be a conservative judge.
Because if not, Trump faces an incredible backlash from his own party, and from those who voted him into office.
6- Draining the Swamp:
While Hillary Clinton was a notorious insider, Trump promised to bring a different approach to Washington, and to break down the corruption of the establishment.
Now, even in the early stages of his Presidency, Trump has to some extent embodied characteristics of an establishment politician.
However, Trump has appointed what many might deem as outsiders to various government positions.
Obviously, Trump cannot be expected to hold all his campaign promises. But, minimising corruption in politics, or at least having some pitching calls to voters on this crucial issue, will be crucial come re- election time in 2020.