This is a continuation of a post on why Donald Trump was able to appeal to independent voters enough to earn a majority of their votes in the 2016 election. You can catch up on Part 1 here.
One of the main reasons cited by people who voted for Trump went along the lines of “he’s a business owner, he knows how to run a business, he’s good with money, he’ll be good for the economy”. So far that has proven to be… not totally incorrect. The stock market remains high, GDP growth remains fairly robust, and unemployment is low.
However, there is plenty of evidence to indicate that this success is despite Trump, not because of him. Many major economic indicator was on the rise well before his election. He can claim credit for the tax bill and say that’s why the economy is doing well, but the reality is policy takes time to have an effect. It’s much more likely that the hard choices made in the Obama era are what set the stage for this growth.
Along the same lines as the “businessman = good for economy” narrative, Trump also promised to negotiate the best deals for the United States. He lambasted the Iran Nuclear deal in particular as ” a horrible, one-sided deal”. Setting aside the merits of any particular deal under previous administrations, has Trump been able to broker any agreements that were significantly better for the American people?
In reality, Trump has been much better at pulling out of deals than negotiating new ones.That is something he can usually do unilaterally without the support of Congress or anyone else. He pulled out of the Paris Climate accord, the Iran Nuclear deal, the TPP, and has threatened to leave NAFTA. His record on re-negotiating deals has been, at best, no better than previous administrations.
His most public “deal”, was of course the summit in Singapore with North Korea, at which Trump would supposedly succeed in getting Kin Jong Un to relinquish his nukes where all other administrations had failed. That’s the way Trump portrayed it afterwards, but with many things Trump, that so far has been PR smoke and mirrors. The actual signed agreement offers few specifics, such as monitoring procedures, timelines, and a thorough inventory of NK’s nuclear stockpile. Instead it includes a vague statement that North Korea “commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” This is even less than previous administrations have managed to wrangle from the North Koreans, who reneged on those deals.
With the exception of the economy, Trump has failed to deliver on most of the things that attracted moderates to him in the first place. He’s done much more for hard core conservatives, pushing hard line immigration policies and wading into culture disputes like NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. At this point, independents and conservative Democrats have to be asking themselves: “is this really what I signed up for?”