One year into the Trump era, America is becoming great again but not how Trump envisions.
In a world increasingly dominated by “alternative” facts, defining greatness is perhaps more difficult than one would expect. President Donald Trump would most certainly tell us how “great” he has made America in 240 characters.
Unfortunately for Trump and Americans looking for greatness, his alternative understanding of both facts and what makes a country great do not match with reality or the needs of our nation. A year into the Trump era, America is not making the progress he promised as a candidate or is promising as president.
The tone was set early on when President-elect Trump decided to take a victory lap on promised job creation. He used workers in Indiana as a backdrop and claimed he had saved jobs. The problem, one that is all too familiar now, is that he was lying.
Then he made it worse by disparaging a local worker leader who had the audacity to tell the truth. This is not greatness. Lying about and to the very people who had help elect him and then insulting an American citizen is petty, not great.
And so, throughout the last year we have seen this pattern play out. Boasting and bullying. Lies followed by distraction followed by blame. Time and again key Trump promises either disappear or come crashing down to inglorious face planting failure when met with reality.
Let’s review a few of the key failures in his proclaimed quest to “make America great.”
On the campaign trail, Trump championed the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is more commonly referred. This legislative goal, despite continuing pushes from Trump himself and numerous attempts by his congressional enablers has not happened. Why? Inept legislative maneuvering aside, people actually like Obamacare despite years of tearing it down with false rhetoric and outright sabotage. Saying “it’s going to be great” and “trust me” simply are not effective tools for actual legislative achievement.
Trump also talks much about making America safer but his clumsy and dangerous approach to world affairs is actually making us less safe, not to mention being despised by allies. The ridiculous and potentially perilous way in which he is handling North Korea, a hostile and erratic nation with nuclear weapons, is downright outrageous. His egotistical approach to his meetings with foreign allies is embarrassing. None of this make us safer or greater.
His disdain for the press and any news that contradicts his manufactured reality is nothing short of treacherous. A truly great America is an open America that enhances debate and centers that debate on facts.
The list goes on, of course. No wall to speak of and certainly no payment by Mexico despite that being a central theme of his campaign. The D.C. “swamp” is not drained but rather overflowing with the worst special interest creatures imaginable. A renegotiation of NAFTA is stalled at best. The plan of “cutting taxes for everyone” is falsely being represented by what is moving through Congress and even that is being met with much resistance from Trump’s own party.
That’s just a small sample of the many boastful promises made by Trump. We could debate, and will, whether Trump’s plans would actually make America great but the complete lack of progress on almost any of his agenda makes it hard to claim victory even with an alternate view of reality.
The central and defining theme in all of these failures is Trump himself and his persistent and self-serving disconnect from reality. It’s led to a massive resistance movement on the left. Support for a sitting president nationwide is at or near record lows. The first truly representative electoral response to Trump, in Virginia and New Jersey state elections, ended in a landslide rebuke of the style and content of his first year since election.
Nothing about what Trump has been doing is great. Certainly America is not greater for having him as president. His allies and apologists in Congress are disgraceful. What is great is the awakening of a corrective force that is defending rights, defending free speech, standing up to bullying and hate, and exercising our democratic power to change. If that continues, Trump will have made America great again, just not in the way he thought.