By Jason Newell:
Day by day, Trump propagates falsities and half truths. And, to no one’s surprise, the American people are being bombarded by media coverage of a man that instigates violence at his rallies, utters unapologetically racist epitaphs, and kicks journalists out of his press conferences.
However, an assertion that has been cloaked by Trump is his claim that “Obama is the worst president of all time.” How many times have we heard this unsubstantiated claim? What is the basis for his claim? Anyway, I’m going to provide my readers with a logical framework to judge US presidents; and no, it doesn’t rely on surfing the web for political assistance while drinking copious amounts of Admiral Nelson (aka known as “Adminee”).
Ok, so let’s create criteria for judging US Presidents. First of all, the most important aspect of constructing this framework is to either attach causation to the president’s actions or not. More specifically, do the president’s policies have a quantifiable impact on the United States or is the president merely a cog in a complex system of federalism? And now let’s flip the causation – can events that occur in the country, whether positive or negative, be attached to the president’s executive decisions? Due to all the ambiguity – largely as a result of the polarization of the American Electorate – I formulated a political framework that has to be agreed upon prior to an argument either in favor or against the acting president:
1) The policies enacted by presidents have no quantifiable impact on the American system Therefore, presidents don’t deserve credit.
2) The policies enacted by presidents have a quantifiable impact on the American system. Therefore, presidents deserve credit if their policies succeed, and equal criticism when their policies fail.
Now, while I realize that there’s not much of a gray area in my formula, this is how most Americans argue – i.e., in a black and white terms. So for the sake of Trump’s claim – let’s say that everything that occurs in this country is a direct reflection of Obama’s rhetorical and legislative achievements. In late 2008, the US economy was losing around 900,000 jobs per month – within four years, the US economy was no longer in a recession. This was, of course, after the Stimulus Package was passed by the Obama Administration and a Democratic-dominated Congress. Point for Obama. In addition, thirty-five million people were without health care in early 2009; within a few years, that was cut down to by twenty million due to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Point number two for Obama. How about Bush’s deceptive War in Iraq? Obama promised to end the War, and he did so in a timely fashion considering the recommendations of his generals. Point number three for Obama. I can go on and on, but the point being: the major crises were addressed by Obama within a respectable timeframe considering the makeup of Congress. (But let’s not forget, that Obama has failures as well – as do all presidents).
How about another angle: Has Trump ever heard of the nonpartisan Brookings Institute? This well-respected D.C. think tank has Obama ranked 18 out of 44 presidents. Not too shabby right? But we know Trump won’t be willing to listen to a group of educated academics who have studied presidential performance for many years. So, what exactly is Trump’s argument based on?
Oh, I know – Trump’s argument is driven by an electorate that is susceptible to demagogic populism largely due to economic uncertainty. Democrats are included in the aforementioned statement, but at least they are willing to draw cogent inferences from a set of facts rather than rely on baseless value judgments. And what’s most upsetting about the individuals and policymakers that criticize Obama is that the same dissatisfaction isn’t applied to previous presidents when they share a similar ideological leaning. If Trump wanted to speak from a set of facts, he would at least cite Herbert Hoover or James Buchanan – the former presided over the worst economic crash in American history, while the latter ignored the unaddressed slavery issue that led to the country breaking into two.
So, this is a direct appeal to my conservative friends, and toTrump himself: if you want to criticize presidents, such as Obama, while in office, make sure to apply that same criticism to those that mirror your political belief system. A failure to do so only paints you as an unbalanced thinker.