He has received an unprecedented level of coverage - mostly negative - than any other US President in history. Be it his decision to bar the entry of people from certain Muslim countries, his decision to withdraw from Paris climate agreement, his rather unusual and embarrassing diplomatic gestures or his alleged racist rant against some under-developed countries, US president Donald Trump has definitely earned the ire of many in his first year in the office.
Trump came into power promising to change the face of American politics. He sought to ‘make America great again’, ‘build walls’, ‘deport illegal citizens’ and to do a lot more of other things. His victory was greeted by great swathes of fear, disdain and anxiety. Many feared that America would be divided. His rule would spew hatred. There would be discrimination against minority groups. Indeed, over the course of 2017, Trump would prove himself to be no ordinary president.
One area where he has become quite extraordinary is in terms of his unpopularity. An American research based consulting firm Gallup shows that Trump is one of the most unpopular presidents in the modern era. His weekly approval rating languishes at 39% after 12 months in office. The approval rating for previous presidents was way higher at this point - Barack Obama (50%), Bill Clinton (54%) and George W Bush (83%). His average over the year is also 39%, which is the lowest recorded for any elected president in his first term.
While many of his decisions made in the past 12 months did generate a lot of hullabaloo, most of ‘radical’ promises are far from being met. He has kept his end of the bargain in many fronts - like appointing conservative judges to the Supreme Court, ‘bombing the hell out of ISIS’ and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He has also delivered on the promise of pulling out of Trans Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which was allegedly hurting the US economy, pulling out of the Paris climate agreement and most importantly, signing the federal tax code, which is by far the greatest legislative achievement of his first year.
But most of his ‘radical’ poll promises remain far from being met. Building a border wall paid for by Mexico was President Trump's signature issue during the election campaign but it is nowhere near to happening. His continual pressure to Congress to change US immigration laws has been met with resistance; his earlier travel ban decision being overruled by the Supreme Court. Although he expresses tough rhetoric when it comes to illegal immigrants, figures released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in December last year showed that the total number of deportations had in fact declined over the past fiscal year to the lowest level seen since 2006.
In terms of economy, Mr. Trump vowed to create 25 million jobs over 10 years and become ‘the greatest jobs president... ever’. Although, the stock market has improved and unemployment is low, the creation of job has not happened at a rate as promised by Trump. In terms of foreign policy, his tough rhetoric against China has softened dramatically. His words were full of praise for the Chinese President Xi Jingping during his visit to China and despite a speculated tariff, Trump is yet to come down hard on China.
There is no doubt in the fact that Trump’s first year has been far from diplomatic. It has been marked by divisive rants, embarrassing moments, ‘alternative facts’ and unprecedented level of unpopularity. But is also far from being radical and disastrous as it was expected.