Donald Trump One Year On: Better to Be Feared Than Loved

A year after his inauguration as US President, Donald Trump has proved to be an efficient leader, believes Valdai Club expert Richard Weitz, Director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis, Hudson Institute. Despite declining voter support, he has been able to push forward a number of controversial policies both at home and domestically without suffering heavy costs.

Has Donald Trump proved to be an efficient president?

President Trump has been successful in some areas. At home, he has noticeably dominated the media, proposed bold and innovative policies, and presided over a strong economy, including a surging stock market. Public opinion polls show declining support for him among voters, but this is typical for national leaders following their elections. More serious has been his inability to secure congressional approval of many of his key initiatives, such as a repeal of the Obama administration’s health policy, despite his having a majority in both houses of Congress.

In terms of foreign affairs, Trump does not enjoy the broad popular support that President Obama did, especially in Europe, but he has helped rebuild US ties to Israel and increased US credibility among Sunni Arab leaders. Trump seems to follow the adage that it is better to be feared than loved, which may prove true, at least in the Middle East.

What are the most successful initiatives of the President at home and internationally?

At home, President Trump secured a comprehensive change in US tax policy and congressional approval of his nominee to the Supreme Court and other key judicial appointees. He has also forced many of his opponents within the Republican Party to resign.

Regarding international affairs, the Trump administration has been able to make major changes in US foreign policy without suffering heavy costs. In particular, the Trump White House has withdrawn from the Paris climate change deal, announced the future relocation of the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, build up US defenses in Europe and Asia, and taken other controversial steps that have provoked hostile rhetoric by other countries but no major punishment. The United States has been a major member of the successful anti-terror coalition in Iraq. Even relations with China have not worsened as much as many expected given the anti-Beijing rhetoric of Trump and his major advisers.

How do you assess the likelihood that Trump will not complete his four-year term?

Trump just received an unexpectedly good medical exam results in his January 16 checkup with the White House doctor, so he will not soon have to retire due to poor health. Some people have called for his Cabinet (i.e., ministers) to declare him unfit from office and replace him with Vice President Pence, but the doctor confirmed he has no cognitive maladies and such a Cabinet coup has never been tried.

A few members of Congress have tried to remove him through impeachment, but they would need to have the support of both houses of Congress, which is unlikely unless evidence comes to light that Trump committed a major crime.


Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.