Scott Gilmore: It’s become increasingly clear that U.S. power is not only absent under Trump, but unneeded. It is unlikely anyone will unlearn this lesson.
Presidential legacies are slippery things. Occupants of the Oval Office always try to frame their administration in the best light possible, hoping that history will remember their accomplishments and not their failures. History is a horrible gossip, however. We remember that William Howard Taft was so obese he needed a custom bathtub and not how he stood up to powerful monopolies. Likewise, Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress will still be talked long after we’ve forgotten Bill Clinton’s economic policies.
There is no doubt Donald Trump has high expectations for his legacy. He began to talk up his accomplishments almost before he had even moved in to the White House. By his own account Trump has done more than any previous president, and ranks himself as the best since Lincoln.
Public opinion currently disagrees. In spite of a growing economy, the majority of voters do not believe Trump has been doing a good job. In fact, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll, less than 30 per cent of Americans would be happy if he was re-elected in 2020.
So, if the Trump presidency does come to an end next year, what will be his legacy? The president’s supporters would likely point to the booming economy. It is true the markets have never been higher, but they grew at a much faster rate under his predecessor. What’s more, the consensus among economists is the few interventions made by Trump (tariffs, tax cuts, and the dismantling of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms) have hurt growth.