Donald Trump has been the most controversial President in recent memory. His opponents were absolutely convinced that he did not have a chance. He was laughed off by nearly every politician, every pundit, and certainly by nearly every comedian in Hollywood. He proved them all wrong and beat Hillary Clinton in the surprise election of the last 50 years. Even many Republicans dismissed him as not being electable.
Donald Trump came to shake up things in Washington. He didn’t change anything about his personality after he was elected. Even within his own staff, he shook things up more frequently than nearly any other occupant of the Oval Office. He did not shy away from controversy, and never seemed to take the easy path. His America First philosophy found many detractors, on the right and the left. But it also awakened an electorate that was barely involved until the 2016 election. The Republican Party after the Trump Presidency is significantly expanded in a way that may change the way the middle class vote – for many years to come.
The polarization of the two parties reached a high during the four years of the Trump Presidency. But it also proved to be a time of shifting allegiances within key elements of the electorate – especially the middle class. The economic prowess of the Trump years are unquestionably an historic achievement. So too, the peace agreements that the Trump administration brokered in the Middle East has already been recognized by leading Democrats as a fantastic achievement. But the handling of the unprecedented challenge of the Coronavirus pandemic will be debated for decades. His loose pronouncements on this heart-wrenching issue during an election year may have even cost his the election.
But perhaps the most lasting achievement of the Trump Presidency will be the beginning of the re-calibration of the relationship between the United States and China. Russia and Putin make a lot of noise. But the threat from China may continue to grow and grow in the coming decades. Nobody focused on this issue until Donald Trump brought it to the fore.