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Professors Discuss Trump’s First Year

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Written by: Communicator StaffNovember 18, 2017

By: Ben Bailey

Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States over a year ago.

During those 365 days, Trump has issued over 50 executive orders, appointed Justice Niel Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and tweeted about various issues such as the NFL’s national anthem controversy and the repealing of DACA.

In past weeks, Trump and his administration have addressed issues ranging from North Korea to the ongoing Russia investigation.

Recently, the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs allowed students to write about their feelings toward Trump’s first year in office on the office’s windows.

Comments on the windows have been varied, with some anonymous students writing things such as “still better than Hillary” and “still wondering how he got this far?”

IPFW political science professors Mike Wolf and Elliot Bartky, who team teach a class on the Trump presidency, shared their thoughts on the past year.

For Wolf and Bartky, while the Trump presidency has been unusual, it has not been particularly surprising.

“There’s been some important historical basis that would make the Trump presidency not as surprising, such as use of controversial executive orders,” Wolf said.

Bartky said he has not been surprised by the president’s time in office because of Trump’s status as a public figure before being elected.

“I don’t know that he’s surprised me in much of anything. He is what he is and he’s always been like that,” Bartky said.

One aspect of Trump’s time in office that has been surprising to Wolf is the abandonment of the head of state roll.

Wolf said part of the job of the president, as the head of the state, is to be a unifying figure for the American public. To Wolf, Trump has not succeeded in this aspect.

Trump’s frequent usage of Twitter has also been the subject of criticism throughout his first year in office.

However, Wolf believes that this may be working in the president’s favor.

“It is working. He lights somebody up on Twitter and that drives the news cycle for the day. For nearly any other politician I would say stop doing it, but for him it works. He’s driving the news cycle of the day. He releases a tweet in the morning, and then everyone is talking about it 12 hours later,” Wolf said.

However, Wolf believes that Trump’s use of Twitter is not beneficial to the country, saying, “I don’t think it is very good for American Democracy.”

Only 37 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s performance, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll.

However, Bartky explained that public approval ratings do not tell a complete story and that distaste between partisans on both sides have played a roll in the president’s approval.

“Not only is there great animosity between the parties, but there are also great divides within the parties. President Trump has a lot of strong supporters and strong opponents,” Bartky said.

Also, according to Bartky, Trump’s criticism of biased news media coverage toward his presidency is warranted.

“A lot of the coverage he gets is very unfair. There’s never been an election before when the media has taken sides like this,” Bartky said.

For Trump to have success during his term in office and to increase his chances of re-election, Wolf and Bartky agree that Trump must seek ways to appeal to more than just his core supporters.

“He needs to expand his support in the general population, which he’s not doing a good job of. He also needs to develop his relationships with the Republicans in Congress,” Bartky said.

Wolf also said Trump’s success in future elections depends on his ability to win the support of more moderate and establishment Republicans.

Additionally, Bartky said Trump needs to start shifting back toward the center if he wishes to win re-election in three years.

When asked about how likely it is that Trump will make these changes, Bartky said, “I don’t think he’s going to change.”