Nine months in office: A look at President Trump's impact
Students and faculty discuss most defining aspects of Trump presidency so far
College students were not a key base for President Trump in last November’s election; 55 percent voted for Hillary Clinton versus 37 percent for Trump, according to Pew Research Center polls.
Many students remain critical of Trump’s decisions and appointments since he took office. We asked UB students and faculty to reflect on the most memorable decisions of Trump’s presidency so far.
Devin Forde, a senior psychology major, said the most defining moment was Trump’s response to the white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia. The march, which led to the death of a counter-protester.
“You had millions of white men and women marching down the street, saluting high forms of neo-nazism and white supremacy, and the first thing that our president does is say these are fine men and women who were doing nothing wrong,” Forde said. “It took the death of a white woman for him to condemn their actions, which blatantly shows his entire presidency’s rhetoric. The whole spiel about how America has moved on from racism; he has done a really great job of proving that wrong.”
Byron Garcia, a junior geology major, said Trump’s attempt to repeal Obama-care is the most defining moment of his presidency so far. Garcia feels Trump and his administration aren’t helping poor people get access to healthcare. Trump has repeatedly said he wants to let Obamacare implode and let Congress re-visit healthcare, according to Garcia.
“In other countries like in Europe, you get that for free,” Garcia said. “I feel like that’s something Obama really stood for and he’s stepping all over that.”
Some students are able to find some positive aspects of Trump’s actions, despite not supporting him in general.
Ben Harper, a senior mechanical engineering major, thinks Trump’s review of government regulation is the most important accomplishment of his presidency so far.
“It’s the most important thing he’s been able to do. A lot of the things he’s wanted to do have been really unpopular with young people or downright sketchy,” Harper said. “And some of the other stuff he’s done really hasn’t had much of an effect; it’s gotten bad press and has been sort of shut down. The thorough review of government regulations is really important and should be done more than once every 15 years.”
James Campbell, a SUNY Distinguished political sciences professor, said Trump’s greatest accomplishment is his nomination and the Senate’s confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. This was “critically important to maintaining the balance on the Court after the passing of Justice [Antonin] Scalia,” Campbell said.
Trump differs from his predecessor, Barack Obama, because although both presidents deferred to their Congresses to deal with major policy changes, Trump has a habit of jumping into disputes within Congress, according to Campbell.
“He was not a politician when he was elected and, well into his first year, does not seem to have learned or [have a] desire to learn what it takes to govern,” Campbell said. “It is as though everything is done without forethought or with a single-minded determination to rally his base in the public.”
Campbell thinks Trump is the most contentious and erratic president in modern American history. He does not believe Trump is likely to have a lasting impact on the presidency, despite his prominence at the moment, which stems from his ability to speak for a portion of America that was feeling ignored.
“He gave voice to many Americans who are upset with the ineffectiveness, heavy-handedness, waste and political correctness of national political leaders and policy-makers, but appears ill-equipped by temperament and skills to make the course-corrections these disgruntled conservative and moderate Americans wanted,” Campbell said.
Sarah Crowley is the senior news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.