Two independents ran for president in 2016. Rather than run as independents and face the all but insurmountable task of securing a place on the ballot in every state, they each decided to seek the nomination of political parties that were already assured a place on the ballot in very state.
One of them decided to try for the nomination of the Democratic Party, he did not make it. And he is now an independent again.
One of them decided to try for the nomination of the Republican Party. He secured the nomination and ultimately was elected President of the United States.
Donald Trump is the first Independent to become President. He is not a president like any other president that we can recall. He appears to be operating as president much as he did as the head of his personal business empire. Everything centers on him.
Trump has made a lot of promises to a lot of people. Time will tell whether the people who believed that he would solve their problems will feel that he has fulfilled his promises.
The Donald Trump that spoke to the joint session of Congress last Tuesday is a Trump that has not been seen in public since he started his campaign, except perhaps on election night. It was surprising to many and softer than folks have come to expect. Among other things, he made clear that he understands that he needs Congress to achieve what he has promised to achieve.
While it is very early in his tenure, here is the public’s grade of President Trump’s performance up until now.
Here are the initial job approval/disapproval numbers of the last ten presidents before Trump.
|President||Approval/Disapproval – Beginning of first term|
|George HW Bush||63/13 (3/2/89)|
|G W Bush||62/21 (2/21/01)|
As he begins his term in office Trump has the advantage of the fact that
60% of Americans are mainly hopeful and optimistic about the future of the country. 40% are mainly worried and pessimistic.
52% disagree with the statement that the “economic and political systems of the country are stacked against people like me.”
53% say “the news media and other elites are exaggerating the problems with the Trump administration because they are uncomfortable and threatened with the kind of change that Trump represents.”
57% think it is likely/fairly likely that Trump will bring real change in the direction of the country. And of those people who think he will bring change, 63% say it is the right kind of change while 30% say it will be the wrong kind of change. [NBC/WSJ, 2/22/17]
On the economy, Trump’s job approval is 44% approve/38% disapprove. However, on foreign policy his performance so far has earned a 34% approve/53% disapprove. (CBS, 2/21/17)
43% of Americans express positive feelings toward Trump while 47% express negative feelings. [NBC/WSJ, 2/22/17]
Is Trump trustworthy? 37% say yes. Here is how he compares with the three presidents before him when they were asked the same question: Clinton 63%, Bush 60%, Obama 76%.
Is Trump well informed? 39% say yes. Here is how he compares with the three presidents before him when they were asked the question: Clinton 79%, Bush 62%, Obama 79%. [Pew, 2/2017]
38% of Americans believe that Trump has a relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin that is too friendly. 32% have no opinion and 29% believe the relationship is not too friendly.
53% think that Congress should investigate whether or not there was contact between the Trump campaign and the Russian Government. And 54% believe that the investigation should include whether or not the Russian government interfered with the 2016 presidential election. [NBC/WSJ, 2/18-22/17]
It does appear that Trump and his administration are setting out to unwind, eliminate or otherwise change a variety of the actions that President Obama took during his tenure, especially those things done during the latter part of his tenure. To direct this effort he has appointed Congressman Mick Mulvaney to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney is known as a fierce fiscal conservative.
In his first judicial appointment, to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court,
Trump has nominated 49 year old Neil Gorsuch who currently serves as an appellate judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. If confirmed, he would replace Antonin Scalia who passed away. The President intends to replace a conservative with another conservative. By picking a person who is relatively young, history suggests that if Gorsuch is confirmed he is likely to serve on the court for 19.4 years.
According to a piece from the Pew Research Center, the tenure of a justice on the Supreme Court generally depends on her or his age at the time he ends up on the court. If under 45 when appointed the person is likely to serve for 21.6 years. If 60 years or older when appointed, the justice will serve on average for 11.7 years. [Pew Research Center]
“The Trump administration revoked federal protections for transgender students who sought the right to use the public school restrooms that match their gender identity, taking a stand on a contentious issue that has become the central battle over LGBT rights.” [Washington Post, 2/24/17]
For a solid discussion of the lack of a rationale for the above action, see Ruth Marcus’ piece in the Washington Post on 2/24/17.