Measuring Trump's First 100 Days by Luke Perry
The first 100 days of a presidency is the initial measuring stick for accomplishment. This began with Franklin Roosevelt, who created the modern presidency, and to this day, accomplished more than anyone. Most presidents enter office with higher approval ratings than they will typically receive, so this honeymoon period also constitutes an important political opportunity for action.
To understand Trump’s first 100 days, we need to first recognize how his transition to the presidency has differed from other recent presidents. Most notably, Trump has not stopped campaigning. Typically, the ugliness of a presidential campaign dissipates after the outcome is settled. That has not been the case for Republicans or Democrats.
Twitter was Trump’s preferred mode of communication as a candidate and it appears this will continue as president. This is a continuation of President Obama’s use of e-mail communication and social media, but the volume, approach, and intensity is groundbreaking. Though controversial, there is little incentive to stop when Trump can drive news cycles like no other.
Trump’s cabinet is extraordinarily wealthy, even by Washington standards, and lacking in political experience. The former reflects how Trump will rely on people who share common experiences and perspectives as him. The latter reflects Trump’s desire to shake up the political establishment.
Scholars have noted that “draining the swamp” is actually not wise from a public administration perspective if you have little knowledge or familiarity with national politics or how DC works. One thing to watch for is the extent to which Trump’s administration can really enact policy change.
Trump’s unpopularity will be a problem unless he can figure out a way to work with Democrats, particularly in the Senate, where 60 votes is necessary for most bills to pass. He will take office with a 40 percent approval rating. President Obama’s was nearly 80 percent in 2008, Bush’s was over 60 percent in 2000.
Presidential candidates make bold campaign promises over a long campaign, but these can easily fail in the face of institutional roadblocks that make lawmaking very difficult. It has already become clear that some assertions, like ripping up the nuclear deal with Iran and withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, seem unlikely to happen, based on Congressional testimony by Cabinet nominees.
Domestically, the GOP generally agrees on what should be done, but not how to do it. They want to repeal Obamacare, but are not sure how and when to replace it. To complicate things, Trump urged for repeal, which would mean 18 million people no longer have health insurance, and then suggested the replacement would be immediate and everyone should have insurance.
GOP in leaders in Congress are learning that Trump will not just sign whatever they want. Certain details matter to him. He will be vocal about these, irrespective of how this fits into their agenda.
Many did not expect Donald Trump to be president and thus far, he has been unlike any other president-elect. The only thing anyone is sure about in DC is that no one really knows what is going to happen next.
This article is part of a column by Luke Perry for The Observer Dispatch on Donald Trump's First 100 Days.