By Guy Page
Today WDEV talk show host Dave Gram questioned the legitimacy of the Trump presidency (Russian collusion, lost popular vote to Clinton, Electoral College an “anachronism”) and then asked his pro-Trump caller, “tell me what you think Trump has accomplished.”
It was a sincere question. Dave wants to hear from everyone, even those with whom he disagrees. The caller repeated Trump’s best-known success story: low unemployment, booming economy.
She was right, of course. Trump’s detractors say he’s taking credit for steady economic growth achieved under Obama. That Trump reaps in joy what Obama sowed in tears. The critics are only partly right. Obama didn’t return tax revenue to every American. Obama didn’t liberate industry from over-regulation. Obama didn’t transform America into an energy exporter no longer dependent on cutthroat adversaries like Iran, Venezuela and Russia. Obama didn’t give American workers and employers hope by cutting better trade deals with Canada and Mexico. Obama would never have tried to do any of these things.
In 2017 there were 18.1 million employed African-Americans. By May 2019, there were 19.3 million employed African-Americans. In other words, the Trump economy has put 1.2 million African-Americans to work. Obama took eight years to reach three million. At this rate, Trump should hit three million sometime early in his second term. Given his increased popularity among African-Americans in many recent polls, this achievement has not gone unrecognized, except by his opponents.
Still, economic cycles rise and fall. What goes up must come down. A successful president must do more than just make us wealthier, as much as that matters to real families of all colors who long to seize the brass ring of the American dream. He or she must also create peace abroad and justice at home.
So far, Trump looks like the Peace President. Candidate Trump promised to build the strongest military ever and then use it sparingly. He promised to build our domestic energy industry so that America could relegate oil wars to the dustbin of history where they belong. Critics called him a blowhard warmonger. Yet President Trump has delivered on all three big promises and the result has been peace. Troops under Commander-in-Chief Trump helped trounce ISIS with minimal losses, and the destruction of the “caliphate” continued after the US withdrew. While Obama was president 2,035 American military died in Afghanistan. Since January 2017, the number is less than 50. And the notion that the U.S. will “run out of oil” if we don’t fight for it in the Middle East is now, to use Dave Gram’s word, an “anachronism.”
As for justice – Candidate Trump promised to pick U.S. Supreme Court justices who would independently interpret according to the U.S. Constitution. His critics laughed this off as a lie told by an autocrat who would only appoint bootlickers.
Which turns out not to be the case.
As noted in The Hill, ‘new Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have surprised court watchers as these conservatives occasionally have forged unlikely alliances with their liberal counterparts on the bench. Gorsuch twice in the court’s final week joined the liberal bloc to strike down criminal statutes, and Kavanaugh recently ruled against in an antitrust case.’
The Hill even went so far as to print an editorial, “Washington owes Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch an apology.”
So, Dave Gram, if I had called into your show today, I would have said that Candidate Trump promised jobs, peace and constitutional justice, and President Trump has delivered all three – so far. Any president who hits memorable, decisive home runs like that can be forgiven his coarse language and stupid tweets. Metaphorically speaking. the night is young. But so far, it bears little resemblance to the predicted Long Dark Night of Fascism.
Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.