In the past week, Trump has talked at length about his first 100 Days in office, a conversation picked up by the press, most of whom have either tried to downplay the talk or emphasized how his time in office has been made up of failure-after-failure.
Why measure a president at the 100 Day mark? The tradition originated with Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was inaugurated in March 1933, in the depth of the Great Depression. FDR unleashed a flood of legislation that brought immediate relief to starving, unemployed Americans, shored up the failing banking system, and calmed the nation through the first of his Fireside Chats. It was an unprecedented time for the U.S., both in terms of the amount of activity undertaken by the government in a bi-partisan manner but also in the ways in which the government responded to individual citizens in crisis. For the first time, the Federal government became committed to intervening in its citizen’s daily lives.
Every president since FDR has been measured against his accomplishments and no one has ever quite lived up to this level of activity or commitment, in part because the U.S. has not been in a similar crisis to this degree since the Depression. With that said, the expectations for Trump were always much lower, except, perhaps, in his own mind.
As the most narcissistic president in recent memory, and perhaps ever, Trump has conflated the 100 Days mark, both touting his supposed accomplishments while also saying what a useless marker the date represents.
Recently in Kenosha, Wisconsin Trump said, “No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.” That’s a bold statement, especially from a president with the lowest approval rating at this point in a term in history. When asked about these accomplishments, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer cited executive orders, especially those that deregulated environmental protections, a decrease in illegal border crossings, and job creation.
Americans believe generally that de-regulating the protections to the environment will be bad for everyone, resulting in contaminated water, air, and a more polluted earth. Despite this, Trump plans to open up federal lands for more drilling and mining, including an increase in offshore oil and gas production. He wants to reverse Obama’s Clean Power Plan, allowing companies to lease federal lands to mine for coal. And this doesn’t even address Trump’s abandoning efforts to deal with the problems related to world-wide, man-made climate change. In essence, Trump is attempting to return the U.S. to 1950s policies where corporations could contaminate, control, and dump without restriction.
Border crossings, another supposed Trump accomplishment, were already markedly lower before Trump took office and immigration and custom officials argue that “it may be premature to point to the rhetoric (Trump’s ‘tough talk’) as the cause of the numbers dropping.” Certainly Trump’s threats to separate children from parents who cross illegally, for example, may have deterred some families from crossing but it also means that people in real need of asylum, like mothers with young children, have been unwilling to seek that safety.
The February jobs report was good, showing an increase of 235,000 jobs but those numbers are consistent with job-creation for the previous two Februaries under Obama and it’s unrealistic to believe that Trump’s being in office for less than forty days had any real impact on job numbers.
What we know for certain is that hate crimes are on the rise, thousands of people are afraid daily for their safety and ability to continue to reside in the U.S., and that Trump and his cronies are under investigation for colluding with Russia to win the election, which is treason.
If these are the activities in the first 100 Days for which Trump is so proud, what is in store for us for the next year? Our continued resistance is essential to maintaining a free and open society. Now is the time for citizen action. Support journalism that investigates by subscribing to independent newspapers and then read those long articles and discuss them with friends and neighbors. Join and support groups like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood that are on the front lines of protecting individuals. Read and travel. Meet people from other places and nations. Learn from their experiences. Now is not the time to despair but to stand up for your values.