By Nate Perez
As President Trump approaches his 100th day in office on April, 29, QUTV brought Assistant Professor in Political Science Dr. Neil Wright to give his thoughts on the administration.
DL: As President Trump is nearing his 100th day, could you take us through some things that you think he has done well so far since he has been President?
NW: I think he made a lot of claims to the American People, one of the big ones on the economy, which is of course something the American people pay a lot of attention to. He has made a show of threatening some businesses and bringing jobs back to the country. He pulled this out of a trade agreement (TBP) which deals with the American worker. There have been some positive economic trends with the stock and job market. I think personally for Trump, he is pleased with his ability to keep attention on himself.
DL: Kind of on the flip side of the first question, what do you think he has done not so well?
NW: If you judge somebody by the promises kept, he made some bold claims. He laid out his big legislative accomplishments he would have done by his 100th day. Of course now, he does not want to hold himself to this 100 day standard. None of those legislative claims have come to fruition. He has made some action through his executive powers to address thing such as irregularity burden on businesses and sureing up the country’s borders with the ban. From my prospective, the biggest failure is that before the election, we were at a pretty low point with political conversation. It’s not very elevated. I always make a show of this with my U.S. government student who will read old political speeches from early on in our history and it’s just amazing to see how our politicians used to speak to people back then. My students are often struck by it. We would suspect our politicians would speech to us in such a more educated manner. It’s almost comical to see the decline in American political rhetoric. Since being President there has been a doubling double on this further anti-intellect.
DL: A point you touched on just a minute ago was his health care promises, did you think 100 days was going to be enough time to repeal a health care bill such as Obamacare?
NW: It wasn’t for Obama. Clinton attempted something and failed. That being said there is a arbitrariness to the 100 day measure. Something like health care reform isn’t going to happen in that time frame.
DL: What do you think will be the long lasting will be of his Supreme Court justice nominee Neil Gorsuch?
NW: Gorsuch himself I don’t see as a force of change, ultimately he is replacing a very conservative justice of the court, so the ideological balance of the court isn’t really affected. The large change to look at is the precedent set by the Republicans is denying President Obamas nominee. Risks further politicizing the court which is kind of a dangerous thing. The fact that Republicans had to resort to that nuclear option of doing away with the option of a filibuster that could set a precedent going forward. It could weaken the filibuster which would empower congressional majorities against minorities.
DL: It’s no secret that President Trump and his administration and the relationship with the media have not been the best compared to other Presidential candidates. From a history standpoint, have there been other Presidents who have had not so great relationships with the media?
NW: Well sure. Firstly, I believe there is good reason to want an adversarial relationship from the press’s side towards the President. Many in the press view themselves of having a responsibility towards representing the questions the American people would ask if they could. The appropriate role is to hold the government’s feet to the fire. That being said, there are some Presidents that are more accepting of that fire than others. Nixon was famously brought down by journalists. The hatred Nixon had for the press has come out through the tapes. Trump is just outright with his hatred for the press, which I think is a very different thing. President Trump is president in a time where he has the tools to speak directly towards the people, prior to that there is mutual dependency between the press and politicians. The Presidents want to manipulate the press to put out the things they want to. Things like Twitter allow Trump to speak straight towards the people. The press is stuck reporting on tweets that the people can already see themselves. It’s kind of a different ballgame.
DL: Do you think he will change that moving forward or will he continue to block them out?
NW: I’d be very surprised if he changed that, he made great use of it before to really surprise people by winning the Republican nomination, so I can’t imagine him wanting to put that tool back in the toolkit.
DL: How do you see the situation in Syria shaping up and with our international relationships?
NW: I have no idea, Syria is such a mess. Assad is in there and it looks pretty strong right now as far as his hold on power. Russia has so much interest in keeping that power they have in the Middle East. The Trump administration reactively bombed that air force base after the horrible chemical attacks that Assad committed. He hasn’t backed that up to try and remove Assad from power. Unless we want to risk war with every other major nuclear power in the world, it looks rough for Syria going forward. I wouldn’t want to be there, it is very rough.
DL: With tensions rising in North Korea, how do you think President Trump’s abrasiveness shapes up the relationship with that area?
NW: Again, those are such hard things to predict. We have the same thing with the Trump administration and theirs when it comes to unpredictability. I think during Trumps campaign even with political tactics, he talked about how he wanted to be more unpredictable. There is a certain mad man theory of foreign policy, you might not want you enemy to know what you are capable of or what you are going to do. You are risking so much with North Korea being a nuclear power and one that is seeking intercontinental ballistic missiles that over time could reach the United States. It’s a real scary situation. Personally, it is one of those things I’m watching in the news that it’s hard to believe that it’s 2017 and I feel like I’m back in the cold war. The threat of nuclear war is probably the greatest it has been in my lifetime. Things are getting real in a bad way.
DL: Do you think that the investigation of potential Russian ties with the Trump administration will cast a shadow of his presidency so far?
NW: In the eyes of history it kind of depends on what kind of investigation they can muster up, it doesn’t look like much so far. One of the biggest concerns I have with that Russian investigation is that even the left media is purveying conspiracy theories that are not holding the same journalistic standards whenever they are talking about these relationships between Trump and Russia. There have been a lot of blunt statements, even by strangely enough, our own intelligence service but it hasn’t been backed up with enough substantial evidence. Once you bring that out into the open you shouldn’t take that as true unless you see evidence because that is a very dangerous thing. Russia is not just a random normal country, it is a country with a massive amount of power. Our relationship with them going forward is going to be very important. If any of those investigations play out it is going to be the biggest story in my lifetime, if there was a President who was brought into power by the acts of a foreign government. It would be a story of the century kind of thing, but we don’t have evidence for that right now. The effect of the consequence of us putting so much attention on it has us not paying attention to the other things going on. It is definitely an important question that we want answers on, but we need facts.
DL: President Trump is struggling working with his own party, in 2018 if there was to be a major switch in the senate and Democrats were to take the majority, what do you think that will do the functionality of the U.S Government?
NW: They would definitely try impeachment, but we have never successfully had a President removed through impeachment. If Trump were to remain in power, I’m actually optimistic about the functionality of the America Government. There have been a lot of powers over the past century that have been consolidated in the presidency. What we might get with having an opposition party in power and having Trump in the presidency is taking back some control over policy in the United States and restraining executive power. I could see that in a very bizarre way of being good for the functionality of our institutional system. I think the more important metric would be how healthy is our system and I think that could be improved with a good opposition that might try to tackle executive overreach.
DL: So back to President Trump, I think that with the budget he is proposing right now there could be some long term agencies that are in our U.S Government that will be affected, possibly even eliminating them. How do you think that will have a long term impact on the government and the United States and the American people?
NW: Things like defunding things like our climate change efforts. If those don’t get funded during Trumps presidency it looks like we could be in real big trouble. At least from what the climate change scientists say, we don’t have a lot of time to roll back some of the damage we are doing to the environment so it would be pretty catastrophic. That said, the way that the budget process works is that the President formulates a budget, but ultimately Congress has to pass it. As you eluded to earlier it’s by no means a guarantee just because you have Republicans in congress, it doesn’t mean they will go along with the budget priorities. Maybe the recent March for Science is a sign there is a good deal that there is an organization and energy that people might put in to try and pressure their Congress people to get that done.
DL: In your opinion, what do you think the rest of President Trump’s term will look like?
NW: I will be chaotic. It will be funny, a lot of comedy, a lot of tragedy, a lot of scandal and intrigue. It will be like must see T.V. It horrifies me to think that I just had a newborn kid and I’m living that T.V show. I’m not too hopefully, but who knows.