President Donald Trump Policy, Populism, and the Rise of Authoritarianism
The onset of President Donald Trump’s administration has raised both domestic and global speculation with regard to his unorthodox leadership style and radical stance as well as intentions concerning the most pertinent issues in the United States. During his campaign, the president vowed to undo a large portion of Obama’s legacy. In the immediate aftermath of his inauguration, the president issued a series of controversial executive orders touching particularly on health care, foreign and economic policies, job creation, and immigration. His supporters laud him for his hardline approach and the rapid pace at which his administration is delivering on campaign promises. Trump’s critiques, however, are distraught and yet to recover from his unprecedented win, let alone the actualization of his contentious presidency and policies. The media is rife with a myriad of analyses linking his demeanor to authoritarianism that Trump enthusiasts quickly dismiss as unwarranted fears. The purpose of this essay is to offer an in-depth analysis of Trump’s policies in five key areas including healthcare, foreign policy, economic policy, jobs, and immigration. The discussion will assess whether his approach in these areas is an indication of the rise of authoritarianism in the United States.
Trump Healthcare Policy
The foremost executive action taken by President Donald Trump targeted the Accountability Care Act (ACA), Obama’s signature legacy that currently offers cover to 20 million Americans. More specifically, the order instructed the federal government to begin dismantling the ACA to the greatest extent possible under the law. It directed government agencies to reduce any financial or regulatory burdens imposed by the statute or lift them altogether by granting exemptions. Even though the policy did not grant the President any additional powers, it is an indication of the quick pace in which he intends to unwind Obamacare and implement an alternative healthcare policy. That means that the president will not tarry for a Congressional process to replace the law. This move is set to import increased doubt “into an already unsettled insurance landscape.” What is unsettling about this initiative, however, is the ambiguity surrounding what Trump’s purported health care policy will be. Indeed, this vagueness surrounded his entire campaign, but he still sailed through the election and won. It is perturbing that plans are underway to roll back the ACA yet it is not clear what the prospective replacement looks like.
President Trump’s campaign website included a healthcare plan that inherently coincided with Republican standards, including permitting insurers to sell their policies across stateliness and tax deductions to cater for health cover. Pertinent to the leader’s initiative is the ambition to ensure that all Americans gain access to affordable care. One of the expectations is that the current administration will remove the individual mandate that requires Americans to maintain insurance coverage, have an exemption or incur a tax penalty. The purpose of the individual mandate was to ensure even the healthy Americans enlisted for insurance coverage instead of having the enrollees comprise of the sick only, which would cause health premiums to increase. Even so, this argument seemed to have failed as premiums rose by double-digits under Obamacare. Trump also has the intention to block grants issued to cover Medicaid. What this means is that the federal government will provide predetermined sums rather than the current practice where the amount meant for low-income cover changes from time to time. The growth of Medicaid was a critical component of Obamacare, but the current trend indicates that it will be repealed. Democrats warn that reducing the spending translates into detrimental cuts that would prejudice the people who benefit from the coverage. Republicans, however, insist upon their plan to empower individual states, though some Republican governors.
Trump Foreign Policy
Trump’s foreign policy is also another area that elicits much contention in the United States. The president ascended to power against the backdrop of the rising threat of insurgency, a global arms race, Russia’s inimical foreign policy, and the anticipated global dominance of China. China’s military expansion remains unchecked, and the country wishes to reclaim the South China Sea while Israel is poised to continue building settlements. North Korea remains vulnerable, Iran continues to defy global regulations on missile testing, and South Korea is flirting with the ambition to build missiles as well. On top of that, the UK is currently poised to exit the European Union, a move that the current president support. Trump’s administration is guarded in its stance regarding China and does not support its acquisition of the South China Sea but will honor the ‘one China’ policy. He had initially alluded to the possibility of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, a move that would set back the formation of a two-state deal in the Palestine-Israeli conflict. Trump has assured North Korea of his support, warned Iran against further missile testing and intends to do away with Obama’s Iran deal. As regards external threats, the president follows the concept of peace through strength, as applied during the Reagan-era in a bid to restore the country’s global supremacy. His conviction is that expanding and reinforcing the military is among the most pivotal pathways toward safeguarding the country and securing greater victories abroad.
President Trump’s foreign policy is equally tumultuous due to his undaunted and nationalist approach in criticizing the country’s long-term allies and insistence that the United States has failed to obtain favorable deals in its strategic foreign alliances. Some good examples where Trump has ruffled feathers include his confrontation with Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australia’s Premier Malcolm Turnbull. The former was forced to abandon his plans to visit the White House after President Trump maintained that their talks had to cover the massive ‘beautiful’ wall that he intends to build to prevent the influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico. After the cancellation, the US head of state implemented tariffs for any imports from Mexico, which had an adverse and immediate effect on its economy. Trump’s phone call with Australia’s premier went awry when the former refused to accept refugees from the country into the United States. His decision to withdraw the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and explicit desire to renegotiate the NAFTA deal also points to the fact that he is poised to disrupt key partnerships. Other interactions, however, have been uneventful such as the succession of visits by world leaders keen to work out how their relationship with the US will fare under the nascent administration.
Perhaps the most cited aspect about the president and possible authoritarianism is his warm stance toward Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Russia and Iran chose to tackle the Syrian crisis in a way that was entirely inimical to the United States and NATO. Russia, in particular, is keen on protecting Assad’s regime and maintains that Syrians have the right to vote in another regime democratically rather than have a leader imposed upon them by the United States. Putin also blames Turkey, a key US ally, of enabling ISIS terrorists by buying or facilitating the sale of oil drawn from troubled zones controlled by the insurgents. On the other hand, Turkey finds Russia’s bombing efforts beyond the Syrian border unlawful and even gunned down a Russian military plane on its borders said to have been in hot pursuit of terrorists, killing two Russians. In response, Vladimir imposed a series of reprisals meant to unwind its trade ties with the country. These developments sparked tension and speculation of a possible nuclear war over NATO and Russia’s parallel strategies in Syria. President Trump’s willingness to enter into a meaningful partnership could be an indication of the possibility of a coalesced effort against ISIS, which is long overdue.
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