Ask any Trump hater coast-to-coast for one word to describe the current president of the United States’ first year in office, and they might well go with “disaster.” In fact, that descriptor was the most common one offered by people in a Quinnipiac University survey earlier this year. It was followed closely by “chaotic” and, lagging back in third place, “successful.”
For roughly two-thirds of Americans who do not approve of his job performance, perhaps this is no surprise. But in some ways, this is puzzling.
Like most new presidents, he struggled settling into the Oval Office. Well, maybe more than most. But it’s hard to find a new chief executive who has not had some stumbles, and what would you expect from a man with zero experience in politics? Yet, he has presided over a Republican agenda that — a year into his term — is suddenly looking more successful than anticipated.
From the viewpoint of conservatives, he’s done a bang-up job seating judges who share their views. He’s pushed for an increase in defense spending. His legislative agenda was a disaster, but then late in the year he signed a big tax reform plan. He hasn’t built his promised wall with Mexico, but he’s continued to rail about the need for immigration reform. And the economy — often considered the single most important concern of voters — started booming under Barack Obama and is doing even better now: Unemployment is low, the markets are high, and home values are soaring too.
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Think of all that, then subtract the name Trump. If he were a typical Republican who wasn’t — well, him — I suspect Trump would have an approval rating somewhere in the 50 to 55 percent range. But he is brash. He is impulsive. He taunts his enemies and abandons his friends. He seems intent on fostering division among us, not unity. He routinely tweets demonstrably false information. He tramples tradition.
I suspect this is really why his approval rating is so low a year into the job; not because so many Americans dislike what he is doing, but because they are so troubled by the way he is doing it.