Effective democratic systems are not intended for administrations made up of moral people who are only concerned with the common good. There would be no need for checks and balances if leaders always acted morally.
The Founding Fathers created a structure to safeguard minority viewpoints. Unfortunately, there have been few such leaders in American history. And it explains why the Trump victory in 2016 shocked the political establishment.
Those who lament Trump’s impact on democracy claim he did not follow the predetermined rules of presidential conduct. That is true. But first, you need to make a distinction between institutions and norms. Laws are enforced; norms are not, and they change over time. Democracy, on the other hand, is based on the rule of law and has tangible repercussions.
Trump’s rhetoric during his presidency shocked democratic norms. However, he may go down as one of the best presidents in America. Here are a few reasons why:
He Empowered the Judiciary
One of the characteristics of tyrants is that they undermine the judicial system so that courts blindly approve of their every whim. Donald Trump was no dictator. He knew that selecting conservative justices was not the same as imposing his will on the judiciary in the manner of a figure like Vladimir Putin.
The famous Muslim ban, which was Trump’s first divisive executive action as president, was repeatedly rescinded by the courts until the government created a revised version that the court could uphold.
Trump-appointed judges frequently rendered judgments that rebuffed Trump’s attempts to have the outcome of the 2020 election thrown out. Consider what Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointment to the 3rd Circuit, wrote for the Pennsylvania panel of three judges:
“Our democracy depends on free and fair elections. Unfairness accusations are significant. But just because you label an election unfair, it still isn’t. Charges call for specific accusations, followed by proof. Both are lacking here.”
Trump’s team filed 62 lawsuits following the election, winning one. He either dropped or lost the others, and numerous Republican judges rendered those judgments. The Supreme Court’s ruling to not consider election petitions from states Trump thought he had won must have been perhaps his biggest disappointment.
Space Force Was a Significant Win
Just a few days before Christmas, Trump established the Space Force as the sixth branch of the US Armed Forces by signing a $738 billion defense funding package.
Since the US Air Force was established in 1947, the Space Force is the first new military branch. Despite its name, the new branch’s primary responsibility is to safeguard the US military’s space assets rather than to defend the planet from extraterrestrial dangers.
Most of the details regarding Space Force still need to be worked on. However, the new service is essentially just a more centralized version of the military space missions that the Air Force, Army, and Navy already conducted.
The First Step Act
In December 2018, Trump signed the First Step Act into law giving supporters of criminal justice system reform their first legislative win in years.
Congress enacted the bill with resounding bipartisan support. Although it made only minor improvements to the federal prison system, activists and groups working to eliminate mass incarceration hailed it as a significant step forward.
Michelle Mark of Business Insider outlined the main points of the bill after the Senate passed it:
- This was the first significant legislative victory for mass incarceration at the federal level in decades.
- The measure updates some federal sentencing regulations by lowering the required minimum sentences for drug-related offenses and increasing early-release programs.
- It makes a 2010 federal sentencing law retroactive. This reduces the disparity in sentencing between powder cocaine and crack.
- In addition, the bill includes provisions to treat prisoners humanely. It prohibits the shackling of pregnant inmates, ends the use of solitary confinement for most juvenile offenders, and demands that prisoners be housed within 500 miles of their families.
It also aims to reduce recidivism by providing more opportunities for rehabilitation and job training. This is more than most presidents have done for prisoners.
Killing Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and Beating ISIS’ Caliphate
In 2014, ISIS startled the world when it seized a sizable portion of land in both Iraq and Syria and proclaimed a caliphate. The terrorist group’s territorial holdings served as the foundation for its so-called caliphate and gave it access to a sizable operational base from which to launch attacks around the globe.
The US-led campaign to overthrow ISIS’s caliphate lasted five years and culminated in March 2019.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS leader, passed away as a result of a US raid in late October. Baghdadi’s demise dealt a severe blow to the terrorist organization because he had been the most wanted terrorist in the world up until that point. Capturing and killing him was one of the main security priorities of Trump’s administration.
Empowering Small Businesses
More than 2,000 small business owners participated in a Small Business Index survey. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) said they approved of the job the president was doing. They were impressed by Trump’s policies. At that point, Trump scored his highest approval rating since he entered office.
For anyone who owned a small business at the time, the poll’s findings didn’t come as a big surprise. Despite the president’s unpredictable conduct and usually frowned-upon tweeting, most people observed higher demand, higher revenues, less regulation, and lower taxes throughout his first term. Overall confidence was high as inflation and interest rates stayed stable.
In conclusion, Trump will always be remembered for plenty of reasons. He is the political outsider who pursued his dream to make America great again and succeeded.
In his own words, everything he managed to accomplish was fantastic by all standards. When reviewing his high points, Trump listed having the highest tax cuts, the most impressive pre-pandemic economy, and revolutionary changes in the judiciary. He may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but his accomplishments are undeniable and will stay relevant for a long time.