Print
Rate this article
(votes: 3, rating: 5)
 (3 votes)
Share this article
Ilya Kravchenko

PhD in political science, RIAC expert

Column: Politics of the United States

Who would have thought of a businessman to really quake the political life of the United States a year ago. Moreover, being a quite famous public figure, he often appears on TV and is well-known for his catchy statements. How has the political life of the USA changed during the first year of Trump's presidency?

He first decided to demonstrate a desire for “manual management” and changed a structure of his cabinet by upgrading the post of director of the National Intelligence and director of the CIA to the Cabinet level. Meanwhile, he excluded the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from the Cabinet of Ministers, who was added by Obama in 2009, adding the post of the White House chief strategist that was taken by Steve Bannon, one of his closest right-wing supporters (though he stepped down after the scandal).

Second, Donald Trump became a genuine catalyst for a number of social and political processes, as if they were hiding in the depths of American society.

Thirdly, strange as it may sound, he’s radically changed the role of press conferences and interaction with society. He’s not the first President of the USA who uses Twitter, but he is the first who has practically replaced official press conferences with it.

It is revealing that there was an attempt to play to the success of the Trump’s team and attract the so-called protest electorate, that is people who have doubts about globalization, finding large economic and political organizations, the opposition of establishment.

Who would have thought of a businessman to really quake the political life of the United States a year ago. Moreover, being a quite famous public figure, he often appears on TV and is well-known for his catchy statements. America and the whole world woke up more or less confident in their future on November 8th, despite the fact that they went to bed (or couldn’t close their eyes at all) in turmoil. No one could imagine that the US democracy worked in such a way that one of the most odious candidates in the US history won the presidential elections. The electoral college voted 306 for Trump and 232 for Clinton (before the voting of the electoral college on December 19th, 2016). However, the Democratic candidate “won” the popular vote with a margin of 3 million votes. Immediately after, some political scientists and media representatives called on to abandon the college at all to avoid repetitions of such presidential races.

Trump’s critics have no legal basis to accuse him of granting privileges to his relatives, at least in regard to human resources issue.

Anyway, Trump was sworn and became the 45th head of the White House. What has changed in the political life of the USA during this time? What lessons could political strategists learn from the last year’s election race?

From the very beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump introduced several innovations into the familiar District’s of Columbia way of life. He first decided to demonstrate a desire for “manual management” and changed a structure of his cabinet by upgrading the post of director of the National Intelligence and director of the CIA to the Cabinet level. Meanwhile, he excluded the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from the Cabinet of Ministers, who was added by Obama in 2009, adding the post of the White House chief strategist that was taken by Steve Bannon, one of his closest right-wing supporters (though he stepped down after the scandal).

In addition, Trump showed that he’s no stranger to nepotism in modern America, appointing his daughter Ivanka as the Advisor to the President of the United States, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as the Senior Advisor to the President of the United States. Undoubtedly, the political dynasty isn’t new for the US. There were the Adams, father and son, the Harrisons, grandfather and grandson, the Bushes, father and son, etc. But never did they seek to involve their family members in governance during their presidency. Members of the family can hold different posts, but they should not be directly subordinate or influence each other. For example, nepotism by the famous John Kennedy led to the special law passed by Congress in 1967 aimed at solving that problem. Kennedy appointed his brother as the Attorney General, and his son-in-law as the first president of the Peace Corps.

However, nepotism issue in Trump’s case is not as easy as it seems. Critics remember that Hillary Clinton, his former opponent in the presidential race, was accused of nepotism. In 1979, Bill Clinton appointed Hillary as chair of the Rural Health Advisory Committee within several weeks after being elected as governor of the state of Arkansas. In 1993, acting as President-elect, he appointed his wife as a chair of the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. Bill’s opponents decided to take it to trial, doing a favor for the future Trump administration. Then the court ruled that there is no nepotism in Clinton's actions, since the law does not apply to the White House and the Executive Office of the President of the United States. Consequently, Trump’s critics have no legal basis to accuse him of granting privileges to his relatives, at least in regard to human resources issue.

Trump made modern technologies, especially social networks, not just a necessary image component, but a full-fledged tool for interacting with the society directly.

Second, Donald Trump became a genuine catalyst for a number of social and political processes, as if they were hiding in the depths of American society. Among those –  racism, memory of the Civil War, the free weapons possession, the fight against terrorism in the United States, healthcare reform, the relationship with Russia, gender equality, etc. Trump is under colossal pressure because of them. In most cases, he himself is the reason, because the lack of experience in big politics leads to muddle and discrepancy between the president's words and his actions. Suffice to recall his “gratitude to Putin” for the expulsion of American diplomats during the summer escalation of the Russia – US diplomatic confrontation.

Thirdly, strange as it may sound, he’s radically changed the role of press conferences and interaction with society. He’s not the first President of the USA who uses Twitter, but he is the first who has practically replaced official press conferences with it. Moreover, 21 million people were following an official account of 45th President of the USA (@POTUS) by November 8th, 2017, while 42,1 million people follow Donald Trump’s account (@realDonaldTrump). Trump made modern technologies, especially social networks, not just a necessary image component, but a full-fledged tool for interacting with the society directly. His thoughts on Twitter may not correspond with what the representatives of the White House later say to the press, and more often they are clearly provocative. Suffice to recall Trump nearly shocking everyone by publishing an unfinished tweet with the word "covfefe" on May 31st. He obviously did not have time to type the full message. This tweet not only made the history of the social network, but also spawned many "branches", for example, the name of the brand of red wine. The US president added fuel to the fire saying later in Twitter «Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ??? Enjoy!»

During Trump's presidency, his inner conflict was repeatedly uncovered by his love for public speeches and dislike of the liberal media. He can quite easily arrange an unplanned press conference and categorically refuse to answer questions at the same time. And his fiery nature and good oratory skills encourage journalists to deliberately provoke the president, thus putting Trump not in the best light.

Did political strategists, especially those working for the Democratic Party, learn the lessons from Trump’s victory last year and his presidency? Practice shows that they didn’t really. Democrats didn’t understand that Clinton's election campaign was mainly based on receiving votes from minorities: African Americans, Hispanics, LGBT communities and others. It worked. These groups voted for her, but the others were missed. For reference, the latest 2010 population census demonstrates that white people make up over 70% of the total US population. The Trump’s team took it into account. The Republicans were supported by white men and white women, despite the discontent of the feminist movement because of Trump’s verbal abuses.

His opponents, particularly the democrats, are trying to build exclusively anti-Tramp policy, thereby limiting to Trump's personality, rather than criticizing the system as a whole.

It is revealing that there was an attempt to play to the success of the Trump’s team and attract the so-called protest electorate, that is people who have doubts about globalization, finding large economic and political organizations, the opposition of establishment. However, if Trump skilfully used his abilities of a showman and populist to work with this electorate, then his opponents, particularly the democrats, are trying to build exclusively anti-Tramp policy, thereby limiting to Trump's personality, rather than criticizing the system as a whole. Thus, the 45th head of the White House will always be able to call on his supporters and blame the same establishment for the failure of election promises (especially on the domestic political agenda). And it’ll be working.

According to Gallup, Trump's approval rating is consistently in the range of 35-45%. But the opinion polls on the eve of the presidential elections a year ago showed a low probability of a Republican victory as well. Should we trust these ratings? Moreover, Trump clearly doesn’t have the will to back down.


Rate this article
(votes: 3, rating: 5)
 (3 votes)
Share this article
 
For business
For researchers
For students