In a campaign marked by outlandish promises, President Donald Trump won a wide voter base by appealing to diametrically opposed viewpoints. His most famous promise, to build “a great wall along the southern border” of the United States serves as a microcosm for what his campaign philosophy entailed; xenophobia, American exceptionalism, and the vague yet effective promise to “Make America Great Again.”
To anybody who followed the election, it comes as no surprise that Trump has decided to sidestep the legislative branch entirely, and use his Constitutionally derived executive authority to conduct his planned policies. While some of these are routine and expected, as most new presidents issue orders contradicting those of their predecessors before them, he has taken drastic steps to assert his position as president.
On Dec 7, 2015, five days after a shooting by self-described jihadists, then-candidate Donald Trump issued a dictated statement that read, in part :“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” At the time it seemed ludicrous. On Jan 27, he issued an executive order completely halting the flow of citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.
On Nov 21, 2016, President-Elect Trump issued a statement declaring his intent to withdraw the United States entirely from the Trans-Pacific Partnership; on Jan 23, he took executive action and did just that. On Aug 8, he declared that he would greenlight the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines; on Jan 24, the Office of President of the United States issued an executive order paving the way for TransCanada to resume construction. To his supporters, it is a boon; they got the policies that they voted for. To his opposition, it reinforces their distaste for the new administration.
However, Trump has made multiple decisions that have bipartisan support. To replace the empty seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Trump’s administration nominated Neil Gorsuch, a highly regarded Judge from the Tenth Circuit Court. Gorsuch is a prominent proponent of original interpretation of the Constitution; effectively, he is a legal continuation of Scalia’s ideas. The Democrats recognize Gorsuch as a return to the status quo of the court, and will not likely contest the selection, choosing instead to conserve political capital for Trump’s theoretical second selection.
In the end, Trump has done mostly what he said he would do. Those who supported him during the campaign will continue to do so, and those who didn’t, won’t. Insofar as whether he has done a good job, the jury remains out.