A damaged presidency
FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras (The Freeman) - December 10, 2019 - 12:00am

US president Trump’s three years in office have not been exactly smooth sailing. It was embroiled in controversy right after his election because of his unethical campaign and rhetoric which slurred his opponents, use of unverified/false information, and alleged Russian interference in the election.

Trump lost in the popular vote but, won the electoral college votes which prevailed in accordance with the US election law. His less-than-moral lifestyle, his unethical business practices were/are recurring news that led to the indictment and conviction of some of his business associates.

The non-release of his and his business tax returns and the link of government resources to his businesses are also unresolved issues. Now, he is facing an impeachment indictment by Congress on bribery charges and obstruction of justice, due to the withholding of the $400-million military aide to Ukraine unless their government investigates potential 2020 presidential candidate Biden, and his refusal to allow government officials to participate in the Congress impeachment inquiry.

Coming from an economic recession during the start of the Obama presidency, Trump inherited a growing economy that has been sustained in the past three years, maybe more. This strong economy with low unemployment and strong consumer demand, and the core supporters of Trump in the rural farm belt and right-leaning Republicans and evangelicals, is holding the line for Trump. Latest polls show that 50% of the Americans are for impeachment while 48% are against impeachment.

America is almost equally divided on this issue and this may be the case all the way to the 2020 presidential elections. Due to the majority of the Republicans in the Senate, which will be the judge and jury in the forthcoming impeachment trial, it is unlikely Trump will get impeached. He will also use his acquittal in the coming election as a potent weapon in his campaign for re-election.

The controversies hounding Trump’s presidency is taking a toll on urgent and important domestic and international initiatives and policies. Immigration and gun control which needs bi-partisan consensus are hanging, and deteriorating interstate infrastructures are ignored. In the international front, relations with NATO/European and Asian allies are blurring and uncertain.

The US role in the Middle East and its position with China, Russia, and North Korea are undefined and out of focus. The democratic nations that used to look up to the US for guidance as the bastion of democracy and liberty are now unsure of the leadership of the US in the free world.

Trump is only the fourth US president to face impeachment. There was Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton. Johnson and Clinton were acquitted, while Nixon resigned before the impeachment trial. Clinton was acquitted in February 1999 and served the rest of the remaining 11 months of his term under the cloud of the impeachment trial.

In the case of Trump, he has a full year up to 2020 on his term and a possible new four-year term to December 2024. At this time, so much damage has already been done to his person and the presidency.

Given the current state of the US government and politics, a very ideologically and politically divided country, and the governance style of Trump, it would be very difficult for the US to resolve many of the urgent and critical issues that are domestically and internationally earth shaking and mind boggling.

Leaders are supposed to unify the people and the country to a common cause greater than the individual or partisan concerns. That’s why they are so concerned about popularity and satisfaction ratings. Governance is almost impossible in an extremely divided democratic society.


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