It is easy to say that President Donald Trump has done very little in his first one hundred days in office. However, if we were to stop our examination of the facts at that point, we would be missing some essential information about this Presidency.
We could compare the number of promises Trump has made to the ones he has kept. No surprise what the outcome is there. Based on those figures alone Trump would be considered a failure, but to be completely fair, let us look at some other pieces of the puzzle.
There was a government-hiring freeze, which was first made weaker and then quietly canceled. The courts twice rejected a plan to bar entry to travelers from certain Muslim majority nations. Likewise, an attempt to withhold federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities (ones that shield undocumented immigrants from deportation), foundered in the courts, and will have to be vastly reduced in scope to survive, if it survives at all.
Congress rejected Trump’s call to build a border wall, and nixed his proposal to gut the EPA’s funding. To top it off, scrambled health care reform that Republicans campaigned on for six years came to nothing. And what happened to the $1 trillion in infrastructure spending?
Yes, Trump has also won some of his battles. He filled a Supreme Court seat, though the credit for Justice Neil Gorsuch ought to go to the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. The administration is deporting more and is beginning to pursue individual deportation cases to more vicious extremes.
Trump has fired missiles into Syria, threatened a nuclear armed North Korea, and acted coldly towards world leaders of great standing like Angela Merkel of Germany while sucking up to tyrants like Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines.
Perhaps worse than anything else, he appointed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, a fossil from our racist, tough-on-crime past. Sessions has been steadily rolling back federal oversight of corrupt police departments that violate civil rights laws. Then there is Steve Bannon as chief White House strategist and senior counselor. Bannon is the former president of Breitbart News, which he has proudly described as the platform of the alt-right, a group that has been associated with white nationalism and white supremacism.
There is a pattern to all of this. When it comes to his policy goals, Trump is helpless. He prefers the easy choices he can make with his gut, using executive branch enforcement powers, which congress cannot easily restrain. In other words, Trump governs like a dictator, preferring force and violence to a democratic process he knows he cannot control.