By Kalyani Shankar :
A Reuter’s report sums up Trump’s legacy thus: “Saying that he knew best what ailed America and often governing by executive order, President Donald Trump dismantled or disrupted multilateral pacts, overhauled tax and immigration systems and, with the help of Senate Republicans, reshaped the judiciary. Trump’s actions may be undone in many areas over time, but win or lose, his legacy will endure in the federal courts where his conservative lifetime appointees will influence every aspect of American life for decades.”
E VERY world leader leaves behind a legacy. What kind of legacy has US President Donald Trump left? His successor Joe Biden has now inherited some bad and some good policies, which he has to tackle. A Reuter’s report sums up Trump’s legacy thus: “Saying that he knew best what ailed America and often governing by executive order, President Donald Trump dismantled or disrupted multilateral pacts, overhauled tax and immigration systems and, with the help of Senate Republicans, reshaped the judiciary. Trump’s actions may be undone in many areas over time, but win or lose, his legacy will endure in the federal courts where his conservative lifetime appointees will influence every aspect of American life for decades.” The 2020 poll results have revealed how divisive America has become.
The US is currently divided vertically on class, racial, economic, political, urban-rural, and gender basis. Trump himself is alleged to be a divisive figure. President-elect Joe Biden has stressed his priority of uniting the country but he will have a huge challenge in bringing the country together. The second is the COVID legacy. NO doubt Trump did not create the pandemic but he could have handled it much better. Biden’s main issue during the campaign against Trump was how he ignored COVID. The US has recorded the maximum number of cases in the world. Thirdly, linked to COVID is the shattered American economy. Obama left behind a thriving economy four years ago and even Trump was doing well in the first three years. COVID indeed shattered Trump’s dream of retaining his presidency.
Had the elections been held last year or a year later, Trump might have returned to the White House? But today people are suffering from a sagging economy. The fourth is Trump’s foreign policy, where he has left behind a mess in some areas. Though he did not start a war with any country the US confronted North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela. Israel’s relations with Arab states demonstrate unprecedented progress but Palestine is ignored. Trump’s hard line on Iran led to an avoidable confrontation. Afghanistan too needed better strategy.
The relationship with China deteriorated most raising fears of a new Cold War, especially after Trump called COVID, as Chinese virus. He adopted two main strategies for tackling China. The first is cultivating an alliance with India and the second is selling weapons to Taiwan to check the rise of China. India revitalised the QUAD, invited Australia to a naval exercise with Japan and the United States. Two other important foreign policy legacies were questioning the NATO alliance and alienating the European allies. Despite being a votary of democracy, he has also indulged some authoritarian rulers. Trump has also left behind a diminished role for the US in multilateral institutions.
He had threatened the WHO by withdrawing the US contribution. He has threatened the United Nations that the US contribution will not come if the world body did not reform itself. He has also terminated important arms control agreements and Paris climate accord. Biden has already announced joining back the Paris climate accord and restore the US primacy in these world bodies. Fifthly, on trade-related issues, Trump played hard businessmen and negotiated hard. He promised to shrink the trade deficit with other countries, particularly China, by introducing new taxes and other hurdles on imports. He challenged the multilateral alliances and World Trade Organisation rules. In fact, within the first week of his taking over Trump quit the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal negotiated by Obama. Sixthly, the Trump administration tightened immigration and reduced refugee admissions and access to asylum. He also made it much more difficult for immigrants from Muslim and African countries. To correct these, Biden has already announced a more relaxed immigration regime.
Last but not the least, many analysts point out that though Trump has gone Trumpism will remain at least for some time. After becoming the President in 2016, Trump dominated the GOP (Grand Old Party). He finished his rivals in the party, and led the party without challenge. The Republican establishment is gone, but Trump’s base will still be there. After all he managed to get half the country voted for his party. Though never delivered his key promises the GOP base stayed with him. The New York Times points out “Until a new generation of Republicans step forward, Mr. Trump could position himself as the de facto leader of the party, wielding an extraordinary database of information about his supporters that future candidates would love to rent or otherwise access”.
What would Trump do now that he is defeated? There are many speculations about what Trump does after losing the presidency. He could return to his family business, set up a Trump foundation, launch a new television network, go on a speaking tour, and write a memoir, which is what his most of predecessors had done. He could also run in the 2024 presidential elections but Trump is keeping his cards close to his chest. (IPA Service)