Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is already sounding like a victory lap, but some may find his choice list of accomplishments puzzling. What does recognizing occupied Israeli land have to do with MAGA – and what about Americans?
US President Trump’s campaign refrain is one of “promises kept,” but Americans not immersed in the communal rapture of a reelection rally are forced to confront uncomfortable truths about which vows the president has chosen to fulfill. Opening an American embassy in Jerusalem doesn’t put food on their table, and killing the Iran nuclear deal doesn’t pay their medical bills. Trump has kept a very specific set of promises and let the others go, declaring his mission accomplished.
But are “we” doing good? Trump boasts of rock-bottom unemployment rates, but nearly half of American families still can’t afford basic living expenses, according to a frightening United Way study published in May. Trump, meanwhile, has proposed redefining how the federal poverty line is calculated, a move that would kick millions of people off the welfare rolls, thus saving the poor from the perils of socialism. Homelessness is at record highs in cities all over the country – but at least more of us are working. Who are we to complain if our wages can no longer pay for shelter and food?
Perhaps trying to prove his department worthy of US funding, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised a roomful of Jewish leaders that if Jeremy Corbyn were to get too close to power in the UK, he’d “push back” against the pro-Palestinian socialist.
Trump superseded the promise he made to Americans to end the endless war with a promise to Israel to remain in Syria as long as the Iranians (who had been invited by the government) were there – and has kept that promise, despite declaring ISIS vanquished and with it the legal authorization for the US’ presence in the country.
“2016 Trump” promised to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better, something that would – presumably – allow Americans to access medical care without bankrupting themselves. While the frankly unconstitutional individual mandate was struck down in 2017, the Affordable Care Act remains in place, now hemorrhaging cash as healthy but poor young people are no longer forced to buy unaffordable health insurance and instead opt for the longstanding American healthcare plan of “don’t get sick.” Medical bills remain the leading cause of bankruptcy.
Trump’s unkept promises, then, are not entirely Trump’s fault. His tentative efforts to pull troops out of Syria were stonewalled not only by Republicans, but by Democrats who’d developed a baffling and sudden concern for the welfare of Kurds they’d never heard of three months before. In fact, it wasn’t until Trump bombed Syria in response to a gas attack he blamed on President Bashar Assad that Democrats – or their mouthpieces in the mainstream media – let up on their criticism for a moment. The man they’d just finished calling a Russian agent was suddenly looking presidential, gushed pundits on programs bookended by commercials for Boeing.
Would Trump be able to make similarly tough decisions to serve ordinary Americans and the country that he’s promised to “Make Great”?