Donald Trump made history in 2016 by becoming the first United States president to be elected without having served in the government or the military. There is no doubt that he is an unique figure in American history despite the fact that his four years in the White House exposed unprecedented rifts in American society.
A New York business mogul and ex-reality TV celebrity, Trump won the 2016 election following a candidacy that defied expectations and grabbed the public’s attention right away. He took an equally unusual approach to running the country.
After leaving the campaign trail and entering the White House, some former presidents made an effort to unite the country. However, Trump appeared to take great pleasure in the political struggle from his initial days in the White House until his last. The mainstream media, government officials, elected representatives from both political parties, and foreign leaders were all targets of his criticism, which he voiced through the presidential megaphone.
His well over 26,000 tweets during his time as president offered an unfiltered, in-the-moment view of his opinions on a wide range of topics and finally proved to be so incendiary that Twitter completely barred him from its service.
Trump became the first American president in more than a century and a half to decline to attend his successor’s inauguration. He was also impeached twice in his penultimate days in office, the second time for instigating the January 6 riot during the ratification of his election loss. However, it wasn’t all bad. Here are a few ways that his presidency helped transform America.
Significant domestic and international changes were part of Trump’s record on policy. He accomplished several long-desired conservative domestic successes, including the largest corporate tax cuts in history, the repeal of numerous environmental laws, and changes to the federal court.
He tightened immigration regulations, withdrew from a number of multilateral agreements, and developed closer ties with Israel. His trade war with China on the global stage was part of a larger attempt to deal with what he perceived as glaring disparities in the United States’ economic relations with other nations.
Trump was the subject of intense partisan animosity because of his status as a populist candidate, his outspoken personality, and his desire to challenge established norms and standards of presidential conduct.
More than any new president in the previous three decades, Trump already caused more animosity between Republicans and Democrats before he even took office. And after he was elected president, the divide simply widened.
A large partisan gap in approval rating was evident during Trump’s tenure, when around 86% of Republicans agreed to his handling of the job on average, compared to just 6% of Democrats. Trump’s overall popularity rating never surpassed 50%. They hit a low of only 29% in his last weeks in the White House, quickly after a large crowd of his loyalists infiltrated the Capitol.
Democrats and Republicans didn’t only disagree with how Trump handled the presidency. They also had different perspectives on many facets of his personality and character. At least 75% of GOP members said the president’s statements occasionally or frequently inspired them to feel optimistic, delighted, educated, joyful, and patriotic in a 2019 poll.
Democrats made up much higher percentages of those who said his statements occasionally or frequently made them feel worried, worn out, angry, insulted, and puzzled.
Tackling “Fake News”
Republicans and Democrats rarely agreed on the same issues during Trump’s presidency, which was one of the handful of things they could agree on. A majority of Republican and Democratic supporters, according to a 2019 poll, clashed not just over ideological plans and programs but also over “basic facts.”
Republicans in particular, exhibited broad and growing mistrust of the media, which Trump frequently denigrated as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people,” and this contributed to a large portion of the divide between the parties.
Despite the fact that Democrats used and professed trust in a larger range of sources, Republicans largely leaned on and believed one news outlet – Fox News. The study came to the conclusion that “two nearly inverted media environments” were where the two sides put their faith.
Over time, the GOP’s mistrust of some of the news outlets Trump lambasted the loudest experienced the highest rises. By 2019, 58% of Republicans indicated they had mistrust for CNN, an increase of nearly 33% over five years. Republican mistrust of The Washington Post and The New York Times increased by 17 and 12 percentage points, respectively, throughout that period.
Besides the increased partisan division regarding news media, many Americans’ perceptions of disinformation changed significantly during Trump’s administration.
Testing American Democracy
Donald Trump challenged the authority of democratic institutions during his presidency, including the free press, the federal court, and the voting system itself. More than half of respondents in polls taken between 2016 and 2019 thought Trump showed little to no regard for the nation’s political structures and traditions. However, these opinions also differed substantially along political lines.
The 2020 election made democracy-related worries much more apparent. Trump had already questioned the validity of mail-in ballot security and failed to agree to a smooth transition of power in case he lost the election.
Trump proved to be a tremendously motivating figure during the election, despite his constant attacks on the legitimacy of the democratic process. Despite extensive modifications to voting processes brought on by the epidemic, close to 160 million Americans cast ballots in 2020, the highest predicted turnout in more than a century.
The highest and second-highest vote totals in American history were obtained by Biden with more than 81 million votes, and by Trump with more than 74 million votes. Also the first election held after Trump entered office, the 2018 midterms, saw a record-high turnout.
Tax Relief for the Middle Class
Donald Trump passed unprecedented tax relief measures totaling $3.2 trillion and changed the tax system. He ratified the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the largest-ever package of tax reforms.
Thanks to the tax cuts, over 6 million Americans received raises in pay, bonuses, and perks.
An average family of four making $75,000 was given a tax break worth more than $2,000, which slashed their tax burden in half. The Trump administration increased the standard deduction by half, exempting the first $24,000 of a married couple’s income from taxes.