Trump’s presidential legacy will be one for the history books

Michael Tallarida ’21

    When people look back on President Trump’s four years in office, what will they remember? 

     Trump has undoubtedly left a mark on our country, but the public’s perception of his actions as President will be split, much like our country over the last four years. 

     I divide President Trump’s tenure into three separate phases: his campaign, the first three years of his presidency, and his final year, 2020. 

     Shocked is an understatement of how people reacted to the news of Donald Trump running for president. Why would a man with all the money in the world run for office? Like the rest of the country, I didn’t understand it. But, President Trump started to make his point clear: he wanted to “Make America Great Again.” I’m sure everyone is sick of hearing those words, but the message behind it held value in 2015-2016. People wanted a fresh face in politics, someone new and unconventional. I was among that demographic, hence my support for President Trump in the 2016 general election. His rallies filled with emphatic speeches and thousands of patriots gave me hope of a better America, one built on national pride and a brighter future for all. 

     Despite almost every news organization and media company counting Mr. Trump out in the election, he persevered over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Once in office, President Trump got to work quickly. 

     He followed through on one of the most important parts of his campaign promises: tax cuts. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 brought taxes down for many Americans and lowered the corporate tax rate for businesses. President Trump’s doings brought unprecedented economic growth to our economy and kept more businesses in the United States. 

     No matter what he did in office, the media hated it. Social media controls so much of our lives these days, and many rely on it for their daily news updates. With almost every major news organization leaning to the left, the President stood no chance. I often find myself watching the news and switching channels to hear each media company’s take on Trump. As expected, almost all but Fox News continuously tear down the President and degrade his actions in office. Don’t get me wrong, Fox News is not a reliable source of information, but the bias on both sides of the media has turned our country against each other even more so than it already was. Regardless of whatever good he was doing in office for the first three years of his presidency, the average American would never know based on the media’s perception of him. 

President Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on a trip to Bakersfield – Wikimedia Commons

     In the year that followed, everything began to go downhill for President Trump. The coronavirus struck, sending the country into panic and lockdown, followed by economic plunder and job loss. I’m not going to try and defend the President and say he was unfortunate to be put in a situation like this, but he definitely didn’t get lucky. At the end of the day, he is still the President of the United States and needs to act that way through any given circumstances. As I discussed in a previous article, I don’t think the president’s handling of the virus was as bad as the media will tell you. His rhetoric and sometimes inappropriate behavior in press conferences and briefing reports certainly could have been better, but the precautions and lockdowns he enacted were appropriate for the severity of the situation. 

     Going into the 2020 election, President Trump seemed to be the clear underdog after many polling organizations gave former Vice President Joe Biden double-digit leads in national polls. But Trump performed better than most expected, giving Biden a run for his money. After the election, though, President Trump’s legacy truly went downhill. Whether or not you believe there was election fraud, you cannot argue the fact there was no evidence to prove it. Sure, I wanted President Trump to win this year, but Biden won, and I respect the results of the democratic election. The key word in that last sentence: democratic. 

     For a president who once held democracy at the highest level, I was disappointed to see him turn against our country so quickly. What I once loved about President Trump—his patriotism and love for the United States—turned into his selfish desire to overturn an election. He has set a poor precedent. What happens in the 2024 election if a Republican wins? Will claiming election fraud and inciting riots become the norm? I surely hope not, but that unfortunately was the precedent set this year by far-right insurrectionists on January 6.

     When I look back on Trump’s four years in office, I confidently say that I supported President Trump for the first three years and nine months of his tenure. The last three months were a much different story, one that maybe showed his true colors all along. 

     As a Republican, I hope his actions will not affect the party for years to come. A party focused on economic stability, loyalty to the constitution, and national pride has no place for Donald Trump moving forward. If I wrote this opinion three months ago, I’d say that Mr. Trump’s legacy would be shattered due to the media. 

     Yet now, this shattered legacy is on nobody but him.