Donald’s Disappointing Days: Trump’s First Hundred Days in Office

Posted by ap507 at Apr 28, 2017 03:07 PM |
Dr Andrew Johnstone discusses Donald Trump's successes and failures in an article for Think: Leicester

Think: Leicester does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Leicester - it expresses the independent views and opinions of the academic who has authored the piece. If you do not agree with the opinions expressed, and you are a doctoral student/academic at the University of Leicester, you may write a counter opinion for Think: Leicester and send to

It has become a ritual to judge American presidents based on their first hundred days in office. This began in 1933 with Franklin Roosevelt, who came to office promising to take bold governmental action to pull the United States out of the Great Depression. In his first hundred days, Roosevelt oversaw the passage of 15 major bills and implemented 99 executive orders. But Roosevelt did more than simply enact legislation; he altered the American political landscape by expanding the role of government.

Compared to the high standard set by Roosevelt, Donald Trump’s first hundred days have been less than impressive. His first three-and-a-bit months have seen limited legislation, surprisingly little transformation, and a phenomenal amount of golf. There have been notable failures. Trump promised to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, but his efforts to replace “Obamacare” failed in the House of Representatives, largely due to divisions within his own party. His efforts to ban travellers from a number of largely Muslim nations were blocked by the courts. There has been no further progress on the funding or construction of the proposed border wall with Mexico.

There has been some limited success, most notably with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, though this only happened in the first hundred days because Republicans in Congress refused to appoint Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland last year. And despite his failure to end Obamacare, Trump has put an end to a number of Obama-era achievements, such as financial regulation, largely through executive action.

But judged by his own campaign promises, Trump has had an embarrassingly poor start. His Contract with the American Voter, a “100-day action plan to Make America Great Again,” has been largely unfulfilled. This is especially true with regard to his proposed legislative measures, as Trump has struggled to work with Congress, finding that governing is far harder than campaigning. Amazingly, Trump has admitted that he thought the job would be easier. He has also been drawn into foreign affairs far more than expected, notably going against his campaign slogan to focus on America First.

However, while many of the president’s statements have been downright bizarre, Trump is correct to state that the hundred days is “an artificial barrier.” It is arguably the first opportunity to assess a presidency, but it is only the first. A slow start does not always translate into a presidency of limited effectiveness. Bill Clinton had a poor start, yet went on to win re-election. Ronald Reagan also had a slow start but his presidency ultimately had a transformative effect on the nation. So while Trump may not have had the best start, he still has plenty of time to change America, for better or worse.

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