EVENTS shape history and certain epochs come with monumental content to last posterity much to savour. The past four years have been engaging for the United States of America and her 45th President, Donald Trump.
Perhaps, Trump’s era came to an end Wednesday morning but definitely the legacies will continue to reverberate across ages.
The relentless pace of headlines, controversies, and tweets that characterised his administration have offered much for studies and redefined the God’s Own State’ as one not immune to disastrous outings, when leadership is the subject of discussion. Experts say America has never been divided in history than Trump and his team handed down as a parting legacy to Americans.
Trump announced his presidential campaign in 2015 with his slogan “Make America Great Again”, defeating Hillary Clinton to become president, without ever holding political office previously.
He rose to prominence on conservative media as a proponent of the unfounded and racist “birther movement” that claimed then-President Barack Obama was not a US citizen.
His meteoric rise during the 2016 Republican primary reshaped the party, while his campaign launch speech labelling Mexican migrants as rapists set the tone for a nationalist and divisive style that has come to define large swaths of the party.
He assumed office on January 20, 2017, and filed to run for re-election on the same day. He crossed the delegate threshold necessary to win the Republican nomination with 1,276 delegates on his side on March 17, 2020.
In his re-election bid, he focused on his stewardship of the economy, promised a rapid coronavirus vaccine, and employed tough rhetoric on immigration and social unrest.
Scandals, accomplishments and policies
When President Trump entered the White House, his administration seemed to have a clear goal of erasing the last eight years of the Obama administration with superlative achievements. Much as he struggled with policies, the much anticipated change could hardly be said to come.
America’s superiority dipped, desperation and deceit heightened
Immigration and foreign policy made Trump’s first forward feet remarkable amongst a lot of promises. But one question his entire tenure couldn’t find answer to was whether more broken immigration system and shaken alliances could really put America First as he consistently recited.
After four years of investigations, whistleblower complaints, indictments and trials, there were still a lot people didn’t know about Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 election. But Robert Mueller’s investigation and the impeachment trial revealed President Trump and his campaign could go to any lengths to win.
In the run-up to the 2016 election, Russian hackers had spread misinformation on social media via fake profiles and released stolen emails and files from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee with the goal of harming her campaign and increasing Trump’s chances of winning the presidency.
Russia still denies all accusations of meddling in the 2016 election, whether the hacking of Democratic party servers or armies of internet trolls stirring up trouble on Facebook and Twitter.
State of the union showed cracks
Many issues came up in the past four years including the Women’s March, the Black Lives Matter movement, economic inequalities, fractured health care system, shift in the balance of US judicial branch and more, but Trump’s failure to overturn the Affordable Care Act in his early days in office would have shown Americans that he may have come with clay feet.
Trump faced the most dangerous crisis of the century as coronavirus spreads and the country’s economy witnessed lull. The United States of America turned one of the worst COVID-19 impacted countries in the world with Trump initially trivialising the pandemic and engaging on blame games with China.
His administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic eventually become the flashpoint in his race against Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden who focused his campaign against Trump on the administration’s failure to combat the crisis.
Promoted US, China trade war
China has continued to push for world trade dominance; a development Trump did not view with friendly disposition, hence, his first major trade actions against China falling in January 2018, when he slapped tariffs on washing machines and solar panels. His aggressive approach against China fuelled a trade war more virulent than any seen in decades while further blaming China for spreading coronavirus around the world.
The US-China trade war got to reciprocal phase between April and December 2018, as Washington and Beijing began a series of tit-for-tat exchanges.
A detente came in December when both countries agreed to suspend new tariffs and begin talks. , but this respite was not to last.
In May 2019, after Xi backtracked on the newly negotiated agreement, Trump raised US tariffs to 25 per cent on USD 200 billion of Chinese goods.
In December last year, Trump became the third US President in history to be impeached by the House of Representatives when it brought accusations that he abused the power of his office to boost his own chances of re-election. He was acquitted at a subsequent trial in the Republican-controlled Senate. However, the hammer of impeachment fell on him again in the twilight of his administration’s life for sponsoring insurrection at the ‘Capitol’.
Perhaps, Trump and his Republican Party did not foresee any defeat going into the November 3, 2020 election. His blatant refusal to concede defeat in the election was the cataclysm of his march to infamy despite ruling the most powerful country on planet earth.
The loud mouthed president persistently maintained that November’s election was rigged and stolen from him without providing convincing evidence to support his claims; leading the American judiciary to dismiss his claims of irregularities and prayer for audits and recounts.
While failing to overturn the results, Trump’s defiant campaign of misinformation did leave a mark, instigating rioters to invade the Capitol as Congress met to certify Biden’s victory on January 6, leaving five people dead in the violence.
This shocked even members of his party, leading to Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell to explicitly put the blame at Trump’s feet, saying, the rioters were ‘fed lies’ and ‘provoked by the president and other powerful people’.
While refusing to recognise Biden as President-elect, he stuck to his guns, refusing to attend the inauguration ceremony of the new President as he left Washington DC after granting pardon to 73 convicts, including his 2016 campaign chief and former White House Senior Advisor, Steve Bannon on the last official engagement as the 45th president of the United States.
Bannon, who was once accused of defrauding donors to a group that supposedly planned to build a border wall with Mexico topped Trump’s lists of presidential pardon.
As Trump left the White House yesterday morning, he said that being president was the “honor of a lifetime. We will be back in some form,” he told to his supporters.
He chose to host his own sendoff ceremony with a red carpet, military band, 21-gun salute and about 200 guests in attendance at Joint Base Andrews, outside Washington instead of attending President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration as outgoing presidents have traditionally done.
The outgoing president also suggested his administration laid the groundwork for an economic rebound in the months ahead. Wishing the next administration success, although he didn’t mention Biden by name.
“You’re going to see some incredible things happen and remember us when you see these things happening, if you would remember us because I’m looking at elements of our economy that are set to be a rocket ship up, he said.