A look back on the Trump saga


Jude Rodriguez

The question to ponder after four years of President Trump: Is America Great Again?

As President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration day draws closer, a look back on President Donald Trump’s historic (for better and worse) time in office seems to be in order.
When President Trump officially announced his bid for the presidency on June 16, 2015, his campaign was met with understandable media attention and tongue-in-cheek comments by many who believed this was another publicity stunt much like his previous presidential bid in the 2000 election. From there, his campaign managed to receive free publicity through the various news outlets that would broadcast every controversial quote and gesture that the reality-TV host and business mogul would make.
“When Trump was first campaigning, I thought it was a bad idea to elect a businessman who went bankrupt several times with zero political experience and whose campaign focal point was to keep out ‘rapist’ Mexicans,” senior Alex Bermudez said. “I disliked how he constantly made fun of his opponents and critics…it seemed concerning that somebody running for the most important government position would constantly belittle other people.”
Even among Republicans at first, President Trump was a divisive party figure but still managed to amass a large following of energetic supporters who wanted to help the outsider candidate “Make America Great Again”. His campaign promises to construct a new border wall to curb illegal immigration from Mexico and to “drain the swamp” of allegedly corrupt political opponents appealed to voters who felt disenfranchised after eight years under former President Barack Obama.
“My initial thoughts on then-candidate Trump could be wrapped up into the word ‘optimistic’,” senior Daniel Sanderson said. “I liked the fact he wasn’t a politician. I liked his ideas. I liked everything about him besides how he spoke; I think the humiliation and jokes and other things of that nature were rather despicable, and I think they were the biggest flaw to him.”
After winning the Republican nomination against a large roster of high-ranking Republicans, President Trump went on to defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election with an electoral count of 304-227. In this election, President Trump became the fifth presidential election winner to not win the popular vote and was then the oldest elected president.
“When he first decided to run, I didn’t really know much about him until I saw all the commercial ads that Hillary Clinton made,” senior Aaliyah Howard said. “All of the things he said against women and about his supporters were so awful I was surprised he was voted in.”
Over the four years of his presidency, President Trump’s has had some monumental accomplishments to credit himself with; President Trump was the first American president to hold a summit with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, ordered the successful assassination of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, created the sixth branch of the military known as the Space Force, confirmed two Supreme Court justices and nominated one, signed the prison reform bill known as the First Step Act, and negotiated the United Arab Emirates-Israel peace deal which earned him a nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize.
“I would say the accomplishments that stick out to me are the killing of Abu Bakr and the First Step Act,” Sanderson said. “I personally feel that the assassination of Abu Bakr is a huge step forward in the world of worldwide security and for lack of a better term, I think it’s cool that the United States has killed two major terrorist organizations’ leaders. Secondly, I think that the First Step Act was the correct first step in starting to undo many years of unfair convictions.”
Around the political spectrum, the death of Abu Bakr seems to be the one action of President Trump’s that has been accepted as a collectively good thing.
“The killing of Abu Bakr, I’m not going to lie, was one of [Trump’s] strongest moments in his presidency,” Howard said. “Abu Bakr was causing much uproar and was the cause of many beheadings and murders of innocent people. Killing him should be one of his proudest moments.”
The US also had its fair share of tragedy and scandal under President Trump’s leadership; an influx of deadly mass shootings like Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s, white nationalist and alt-right activity manifesting in events like the Charlottesville rally and the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, race-related civil unrest and the subsequent issue of police brutality, a years-long investigation of Russian collusion on President Trump’s behalf in the 2016 election, detainment and separation of migrant children from their parents in ICE detention facilities, a failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the spread of COVID-19 and its public health mishandlings, the 2020 election’s allegations of mass voter fraud from the President, a siege of the US Capitol led by the President’s supporters aiming to stop the electoral certification of President-elect Biden, a mass social media ban against the President, and now the nation’s first time seeing a president impeached twice.
President Trump’s initial campaign promise to build a bigger, better wall on the Mexican-American border has been partly accomplished; the idea to construct a wall covering 450-500 miles of unprotected borderland was said to be accomplished as of January 12, 2021, after construction started in 2019 — except that only 47 miles of the new  border wall were built and the rest was replacing already existing walls.
“I feel like Trump’s strict immigration policies were a failure including the border wall,” Bermudez said. “I don’t think the expensive border wall would have helped and most illegal drugs are trafficked through legal ports of entry. His strict immigration laws have led to women being sexually abused and having hysterectomies forced upon them at the border along with the separation of many migrant children from their families.”
In the tumultuous times of modern global politics involving Russian hacking and North Korean missile tests, President Trump seems to have had one major archenemy: the mainstream media. The President has demonized the mainstream media on countless occasions, calling even conservative news outlets such as Fox News “fake news” and “enemies of the people”. Supporters of Trump perceive that since the majority of news media leans more left-wing, President Trump is correct in saying that negative news coverage is a result of media bias.
“I believe the media has been unfair to President Trump for almost the entirety of his political career,” Sanderson said. “There are countless times that news outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, etc. repeatedly take him out of context or downright twist his words into complete lies. For example, CNN put out a headline stating how President Trump refused to denounce white supremacy; however, if you go to CNN’s YouTube channel, you can find videos of Trump’s previous press conferences between 2016-18 and you can find over twenty times where he denounces white supremacy.”
Something that was an issue for President Trump early on in his 2016 campaign was discourse among the Republican Party over his candidacy; now, for better or worse, that issue seemed to have gotten resolved over the President’s time in office.
“I would say that some would argue that Trump has outlined the Republican Party as the party of racism and oppression, others would say Trump gave the Republican Party its backbone and a voice in modern-day politics,” Sanderson said. “I personally would say that the way the media has treated and portrayed Trump has given Republicans a bad rap.”
Some interpret the Republican Party’s loyalist manner toward the President during his term was due to either cowardice or complacence; as the end of President Trump’s term nears, there is some talk of a split between traditional, conservative GOP members and “Trumpists” who will continue to support the President even when he leaves office.
“I don’t think his actions are alongside [Republicans’] beliefs at all,” Howard said. “I think he has scared the Republican Party to the point where they can’t speak for themselves. They would rather stay with him even after all of the things Trump says about them. I think that after the riot at the Capitol, they are all starting to see right through him. Even Vice President Mike Pence is controlled by Trump, he couldn’t even enact the 25th Amendment knowing full well that Trump was unfit to stay in office.”
As of right now, the President’s second impeachment is still underway, with the House of Representatives finding him guilty of “inciting an insurrection” as a result of the Capitol riot. If the President is found guilty in the Senate, President Trump may no longer be able to run for public office ever again, which would trample on some of his supporters’ hopes that he would run for president again in 2024.
“Assuming he is not in prison by then, it may be in his best interest to not run again,” Bermudez said. “I think his cultish fanbase will still be there to support him, but I don’t think he’ll have backing from the GOP…running again may just result in a bigger loss than the ‘20 election.”
However, there is a solid chance that the President will not be found guilty by the Senate, due to many Republican Senators seeing the second impeachment process as counterintuitive for American unity.
“If President Trump is acquitted during his second impeachment, I believe he should run for Senate or for governor of Georgia,” Sanderson said. “I do not believe he should run on the presidential level again this soon due to the fact that I believe his voice would be better used in the legislative side of Congress.”
On January 20, 2021, President-elect Biden will become the 46th US President, at an inaugural ceremony that the President said he will not attend, breaking an over 150-year-old tradition. Whether President Trump remains a prominent figure in American politics after his term ends is anyone’s guess, but the legacy of the 45th President has been forever cemented as among the most beloved and despised commanders-in-chief in US history.
“In 2016, I was cautious with having any hope in the Trump administration but I didn’t hate him,” Bermudez said. “Now with his presidency ending and his second impeachment beginning, I think he was a failure who tried his best to overthrow a democracy through fearmongering and appealing to white supremacists.”