Donald Trump's three years in office: The good, the bad and the ugly

The 45th president of the US, one of the most controversial ones the country has seen, has been judged by his performance in areas like foreign policy, economy, climate, immigration, healthcare and vis-a-vis women

                            Donald Trump's three years in office: The good, the bad and the ugly
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania (Photo by Evan Vucci - Pool/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump completes three years in office on Monday, January 20. The Republican president -- the 45th incumbent -- has had an eventful time in office so far and despite the strong criticism he has faced from various quarters, he has also managed to protect his strong support base. One of the most controversial leaders to hold the top position, Trump has not shown any reluctance to go for the kill whenever he has wanted it -- even if it is against his domestic or foreign opponents -- and his gambles have strengthened his support. It is true that Trump has found himself battling impeachment by the time he has entered the final year of his first term in office but he hasn’t looked weak because of that. On the contrary, the president and his loyalists have made use of the situation to raise more funds for the elections by mobilizing the supporters’ sentiments.

Here, we take a look at how Trump has performed in various domains of administration since his inauguration on January 20, 2017. We take up fields like foreign policy, immigration, health, economy, climate and women and rate Trump’s performance in all of them.

The Republican president has had issues on the foreign policy front from the very beginning. Trump defied the tested path in Washington’s external affairs from Day 1. He tried to better relations with the Russian and Chinese leaderships even if the US has had geopolitical and economic issues with those countries, respectively. He chose Israel over Palestine and dumped Iran.

With Syria, Trump’s policies blew hot and cold. The US launched missiles in 2017 and 2018 at it after the chemical weapons strike in those years but by the end of 2019, Trump decided to withdraw troops from the country’s strategic northern parts as a move towards ending endless wars. But that stand was contradicted once again just three months later when the US launched a fatal airstrike on a top Iranian general thus increasing its troops’ deployment in the Middle East. In between all these adventures, Trump succeeded in eliminating Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria. 

President Donald Trump walks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

For Trump’s critics, his (mis) adventures abroad have weakened the US’ hold overseas. His confrontation with the US’ old allies in the West; dumping a number of international agreements and proactive peace-making with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un made them accuse the president of compromising the US’ own interests overseas. But looking from Trump’s perspective, his foreign policy moves have challenged the stereotypes and might have also saved America from the potential loss of more troops, money and military assets in the long run. 

Donald Trump’s time has seen the US economy experiencing a mixed journey. Wages have remained high and unemployment rate low and job growth steady and nobody actually complains in such a scenario. But at the same time, Trump’s relentless trade wars with China and other nations have hit 'business confidence'. When analyzed, one can see that Trump has actually benefited from Obama’s economic policies that had dealt with the effects of the Recession of 2008. The GDP has remained high and more jobs were added as Obama’s second term witnessed an economic recovery of sorts, which Trump has been the prime beneficiary of. The federal debt and foreign trade balance are issues that have kept the Trump administration on its toes. 
Trump has particularly been a news-maker when it comes to handling women. In the run-up to his maiden presidential election in 2016, the businessman-politician courted a real women-centric controversy. An old tape surfaced showing his “grab by pussy” remark while he mercilessly attacked his opponent that year, Hillary Clinton. Trump still managed to win the election and become the president. In 2018, allegations surfaced over Trump’s affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels. And more recently, diplomat Marie Yovanovitch found herself at the receiving end of Trump’s insulting vocabulary. Even his senior counselor Kellyanne Conway has not been spared. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has also been called “one of the least productive senators” by the president. Trump’s ordinary treatment of women could affect his votes in this year’s election, experts feel.

Former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It is also true that Trump, during his tenure, picked some women members to be in his inner circle and they include his own daughter Ivanka, a businesswoman who serves as the White House adviser. There is Conway and also White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham whose predecessor Sarah Huckabee Sanders was also a woman who had the backing of Trump. Trump’s campaign for 2020 also features many women in important positions. Overall, in his tenure in office so far, Trump’s record vis-a-vis the administrator hasn’t been too bad (unemployment rate among women has fallen while the president’s anti-abortion stand has won appreciation), but his personal takes on women have been undoubtedly far less than quality. 

President Trump has always quashed the concept of climate change and feels countries like China take advantage of it while the US suffers economically. He has even dismissed scientific observations made by the federal government’s own scientists. Last month, Trump took an unprecedented action to roll back a slew of environmental regulations to protect air, water, land and even public health from climate change and pollution caused by fossil fuel. As per the Harvard Law School’s tracker, the Trump administration has eyed 85 environmental rules. While the existing environmental rules are meant to curb greenhouse gas emissions and protect land and animals from activities like oil and gas drilling and water from pollutants and toxic waste, the administration views them as something causing difficulties to fossil fuel companies. 

Trump cared little about the Paris climate deal, seen by many as a last major effort towards saving the world climate before it gets too late, and pulled his country out of it just months after taking charge. He even boasted about the US’ carbon-emitting standards, saying they were ahead of every other signatory to the Paris accord in nixing greenhouse gas emissions. But despite his claims, the reality is that Trump unraveled the policies of his predecessors for two years and then started launching a fresh assault on the environmental regulations, earning the wrath of teen green activists like Greta Thunberg. 

President Trump’s healthcare policy has not been anything phenomenal. It has been more of a political venture of curbing the Affordable Care Act or more commonly ‘Obamacare’. Though he has not been able to repeal it, Trump has succeeded in weakening his predecessor’s healthcare measure.  

President Donald Trump with former President Barack Obama (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In May 2018, Trump came up with his ‘American Patients First’ Plan and put the blame on both companies and customers for the higher drug prices. He partially succeeded in fulfilling a campaign pledge to require the providers of health care to reveal prices for their services so that people could go for the best offer and the competition brought the prices down. Also in March 2018, just two months after he took office, the Republican said he wanted to allow Medicare to negotiate lower-prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, but that never happened. Overall, Trump has not been able to put forth any better alternative than Obamacare even while targeting it. On the other hand, First Lady Melania Trump has made an impact on her humanitarian face by taking on issues like opioids and vaping crises. The Trump administration also vowed to address these issues but its success has remained limited. 

Immigration is one area where Trump’s rule has been highly debatable. From raising a wall along the southern border with Mexico to pressuring the country to not allow immigrants from Central America to get into the American territory. Besides the displaced people from other developing countries, Trump has also been less accommodating towards the H-1B visa program. He doesn’t want visas to go to people abroad who are paid less than their American counterparts but only to skilled immigrants who are highly paid. Trump’s immigration policy has been one based on nationalism whereby he wants to protect his own country’s interests first (Make America Great Again).

Anti-immigration demonstrators hold signs and American flags during an anti-immigration rally May 5, 2006 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

There is nothing new in the way the populist Trump has taken his stance but his acts of openly insulting other poor nations as “shithole” or taking on the ‘DACA’ to end the story of American dreams or separating children from their parents at border detention centers have come under severe criticism. Trump’s immigration policy has been as exclusionary as his foreign policy and it is certainly one of the low points of his presidency -- from economic, political as well as humanitarian points of view. But Trump's immigration policy has definitely succeeded in polarizing his country and that is something that helps him politically.


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