Trump’s presidential run: looking back on his make-or-break policies

A look back at Trump’s make-or-break policies after the controversial president’s reign has finally ended…for now. (Image: Donald Trump with his former vice-president Mike Pence. Source: History in HD)

By Marco Krantis| @KrantisMarco

Trump’s Presidential run has come to an end, with Joe Biden nipping him for the job for the next four years.

His presidency has been far from dull, with headlines about the 74-year-old appearing on our news feeds every day.

It would seem his tenure as the 45th president of the United States has been horrific…if media headlines and scrutiny are anything to go by.

So, has he been that bad? Or has the controversial president done more than we give him credit for? Let’s find out:

CON: COVID-19

In an interview with investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Woodward last year, Mr Trump claimed he minimised the virus’ severity to avoid panic.

That minimisation has partly caused 441, 296 COVID-19 deaths in America, as of writing this.  At the beginning of the pandemic, the president made false assurances to the public.

On January 22, 2020, Trump said:

“We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

And on February 27, 2020:

“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

Even his comments on national testing raised a few eyebrows.

In June last year, speaking at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he said “Testing is a double-edged sword…When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases, so I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.'”

Many Americans, particularly his followers, hang off every word he says, taking it as gospel. Such fabrication would ease the public’s perception and handling of the coronavirus pandemic, creating increased widespread infection and death.

CON: Environment

Trump’s focus on climate change has been one of repealing, not enacting.

Under Trump’s administration, the US formally withdrew from the Paris agreement last year, becoming the first nation to do so. Over his four years, the administration was responsible for rolling back more than 100 environmental policies.

Throughout his tenure, the former president reduced regulations around fossil fuels and use of coal, instigating relaxed laws around the release of mercury from oil and coal-fired power plants. Mercury exposure may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems.

In 2017, his first year in office, Mr Trump delisted climate change from national security threats, resulting in less Department of Defense research and funding.

In July 2018, he proposed changing the Endangered Species Act, stating economic factors need to be considered when protecting endangered species’ habitat.

It’s clear to see the Republican’s policies were facilitated around monetary value and reviving coal and fossil fuel energy production, all at the expense of the climate.

CON: Crime and punishment

Mr Trump became the most prolific execution president in over a century, overseeing 13 death row executions since July 2020. Before Trump took office, no federal executions had occurred since 2003. Though U.S states continued to commit executions of inmates from state prisons, despite going on a downward trend.

Five people were also executed leading up to Biden’s inauguration, this broke a 130-year-old tradition where executions were paused during the transition of power for the presidency.

There have been 50 federal executions since 1927, 13 of them under the former-republican president.

The last execution occurred on January 16, 2021, four days before Biden was inaugurated. Three executions occurred in January 2021, with the last one being Dustin John Higgs.

Higgs was sentenced to death for three counts of first-degree premeditated murder, three counts of first-degree felony murder and three counts of kidnapping resulting in death.

Whilst Trump didn’t break any laws, the decision to invoke such harsh capital punishment, breaking records left and right, brought back ethically questionable decisions that were looking to be phased out before his administration.

PRO: Crime and punishment

Yes, I know, it can be two sides to the same coin. Whilst Trump’s policy towards capital punishment was the most severe of a president in recent history, his presidential reign provided some positives to America’s judicial system.

The First Step Act is Trump’s golden child from his last four years, arguably the most important policy introduced under his tenure. The act was signed into law by Trump on December 21, 2018.

The act’s main goals were to reduce prison populations federally, while also giving better outcomes to criminals.

The law will allow thousands of prisoners to earn an earlier release from prison, potentially cutting sentences in the future.

Inmates will be able to receive “earned time credits”. These credits allow inmates to be released early to halfway houses or home detention. Inmates can earn these “credits” through vocational and rehab programs.

Multiple mandatory minimum sentences will be eased, providing numerous “safety valves” giving judges the ability to avoid giving mandatory minimum sentences.

Whilst the First Step Act doesn’t answer every problem facing the judiciary system of the United States, it is a step in the right direction, and a surprise, coming from a president who prided his election campaign on harsh imprisonment ideals.

PRO: Space Force

Space Force is an essential step in ensuring the U.S maintains its defensive capabilities, as technological warfare increasingly advances, despite its somewhat comical name.

Announced on December 20, 2019, Space Force will look to enter a domain that already exists, protecting America’s military assets in space.

As reported by the United States Study Centre, China already deploys anti-satellite weapons (ASATs), whilst also developing advanced weaponry that could target enemy GPS and communication satellites.

On December 16, 2020, Russia launched a new anti-satellite missile test, alarming U.S officials in the process.

U.S Army General James Dickinson, commander of the U.S Space Command, said in a statement, responding to the test, “…Moscow continues to weaponise space by developing and fielding on-orbit and ground-based capabilities that seek to exploit U.S. reliance on space-based systems.”

Adding, “Russia’s persistent testing of these systems demonstrates threats to the U.S. and allied space systems are rapidly advancing.”

It is easy to see that developing a department that is solely responsible for advancing warfare, is a key to America’s defensive capabilities against potential threats. Even when it has a questionable name.

PRO: USMCA

The USMCA (The United States Mexico Canada Agreement) was signed by Trump on January 29, 2020, replacing NAFTA which the former president was highly critical of.

The new deal provides major changes to labour policies, environmental standards, digital trade provisions and much more.

On December 19, 2019, the USMCA passed the house with amazing support, voting 385 to 41 in favour. Then again in the Senate, where it was approved 89 to 10 in favour.

An overview of the newly improved deal includes the likes of:

Automobiles require 75 per cent of components manufactured in either Mexico, the U.S, or Canada, to qualify for zero tariffs. This was up from 62.5 per cent under NAFTA.

The new deal extended terms of copyright to 70 years after an author has passed, up from 50.

As well as Mexico agreeing to pass new labour laws, increasing worker protection, making it easier for workers to unionise.

Democrats, who usually oppose republican ideas, were in favour of the agreement, with a few changes of course. One big amendment, was a term called a “rapid-response mechanism”, calling for an independent panel of experts to ensure Mexico abides by its new union rules and other legislation.

The Agreement was met with some unhappiness, as some unions still opposed it. Yet, the agreement passing in such favour in both the senate and the house is an indication of the positive aspects it provides.

Conclusion

Where Trump has failed, he has failed dramatically, affecting numerous key policies while not being responsible enough as a leader, putting people’s lives at risk. Yet, despite your viewpoint on what is deemed good or bad from his policies, one thing is for sure, no president has left such a controversial legacy.

Despite that, the Presidents tenure has brought some good to the American public and or in foreign policy.

The republican’s presidency has been bad, extremely bad, but not as bad as some media outlets would have you believe.

Most of the positives I didn’t know of until researching for this article. One thing is for sure, no matter what Biden coughs up in policies for his presidency, a media craze surrounding a future president will never be the same.

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