I had originally intended to write something of a lengthy set of essays examining all of Trump’s many shifting election promises and how well or poorly he did in keeping those promises (as much as anyone could figure out what he had actually promised), but given that he seemed inclined to change his promises with the frequency of White House staffers, that proved to be a bit of a fool’s errand. To salvage a bit of my work, I figured I would instead present a sort of Cliff Notes version, with a brief summary for each major topic, looking at the multitude of promises made and the paucity of results. I know I will probably miss a few, since Trump has managed to promise the moon on so many topics, but I think this will hit most of the highlights.
Trump has held almost every position imaginable, repeal, repeal now replace later, repeal and replace, lower premiums, insurance for everyone, let it implode and so on. He even managed to hold multiple positions at once, promising repeal and replace in a speech at the same time his official website promised straight repeal. Eventually he did manage to get congress to take up the issue, but even then he could not decide, alternately praising and excoriating the house bill, with even his criticism ranging from giving too little to giving too much. Not surprisingly, the bill failed, which didn’t stop Trump from declaring victory, claiming he had always meant to leave ObamaCare alone and wait for it to implode. He subsequently pushed a half-assed repeal of mandatory coverage in his tax bill, declaring victory one more time, claiming he had meant to repeal all along.
Trump has always been pro-gun, except when he wasn’t. Through the primaries and general he largely toed the Russian NRA line, despite his earlier pre-candidate arguments against assault rifles. However, once in office and confronting public outcry after the Las Vegas shooting, Trump did what any principled man would do and folded, promising bans on bump stocks, and even suggesting seizing weapons without due process. A few days later, as usual, he forgot he had ever said any of these things and reverted to his profitable principled pro-NRA stand.
“Mexico is paying for the wall.” “No. We are not.” ‘Nuff said.
Trump was as consistent on this as on anything else. He was going to repeal DACA, but he would also make everyone happy. And that may have been his most coherent position. Once he was in office, he proceeded to bravely punt the issue, by promising to suspended it in six months unless congress acted. Congress, having a wee bit more experience seemed intent on doing as little as possible to drop it back in Trump’s lap. Realizing he might end up receiving his own punt, Trump tried to force congress into action, but so far it seems, despite his best efforts to avoid taking a stand, Trump will end up repealing DACA in March 2018.
If we exclude DACA and many empty promises about cheap and easy to build border walls, Trump’s border policy was largely indistinguishable from mainstream hardliners in the pre-Trump GOP, at least until mid-2018. His rhetoric periodically got a bit out of hand, and I don’t think he is getting invited to many Cinco de Mayo parties thanks to his caricatures of Mexicans, but in terms of policy, he wasn’t that different than many other immigration hardliners. (And he did manage to slip in a few exceptions, such as work permits for laborers at Mar-A-Lago, just to prove he had a heart, or was too cheap to pay local wages.) Then came mid-2018 and Trump’s master plan to discourage amnesty applicants: kidnapping. To the surprise of Trump’s supporters, it turned out that abducting people’s children and keeping them in tents in sweltering heat was much less popular than they thought. For reasons the administration could not explain, the American people showed a peculiar amount of sympathy for innocent children. And thus, as with all plans that produce a public outcry, Trump promised to roll it back, explained why it wasn’t as bad as we thought, blamed it on Obama and pretended it had never happened. All at the same time.
Apparently Santa Claus is the biggest threat we face. There is no larger negative trade balance. And, though Trump has yet to enact a tariff to stop Christmas gifts, he has thrown a wrench into most other beneficial trade agreement, so it is likely just a matter of time.
I believe those topics have covered most of the highs and lows of the Trump campaign and subsequent presidency, at least in terms of demonstrating the wonders we were promised and the disappointments we received. I doubtless could have included a number of other subjects, and, if he manages to avoid impeachment for a few more days, it is possible I will return to the topic one more time to look at those areas I did not cover.
Until then, be careful, take care of yourselves and for God’s sake don’t take any gifts, our future prosperity depends on it.