A panel hosted by the University of Wisconsin La Follette School of Public Affairs found President Donald Trump to be unexpectedly conventional in the domestic policies he has pursued but concluded his performance on the world stage may have far-reaching, irreversible effects on the United States’ international reputation.
The panel included Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias, UW professor of public affairs and sociology Pam Herd and UW associate professor of political science and public affairs Mark Copelovitch. The panel focused on Trump’s election and the domestic and foreign policies he has pursued since taking office.
While Yglesias said Trump’s election was the “weirdest and strangest” event in American politics in decades, he also said the policies Trump has pursued are fairly typical of a Republican president.
Yglesias said Trump, who ran as a disruptive force in the Republican Party, was unable to govern as a disruptor. The reality of serving as president required Trump to revert to more conventional Republican policies and renege on some of his more unconventional campaign promises.
Openly undocumented lawyer discusses current political climate, struggles facing undocumented studentsNew York’s first openly undocumented lawyer Cesar Vargas visited Madison this past weekend to discuss his journey of becoming a Read…
“Even though he showed in the primaries he can win as a disruptive force, he can’t govern as a disruptor,” Yglesias said. “The policymaking that we’ve gotten is very conventional — much more conventional than I thought.”
Scandals surrounding Trump’s presidency — largely revolving around the investigation into possible collusion on the part of the Trump campaign with Russian actors in the 2016 election — have required Trump to maintain a unified Republican Party. This political reality has required Trump to drop his more unconventional, seemingly anti-Republican Party establishment ideas, Yglesias said.
Herd agreed with Yglesias’s points, but said Trump has seen less success in passing parts of his legislative agenda through Congress than past presidents have.
One area which Herd said Trump has found success, however, is in the area of implementation through executive orders. Executive orders allow the president to bypass Congress in instances involving departments or agencies under the president’s purview in the executive branch.
Through Trump’s executive orders, Herd said he has been able to restrict the access people have to programs he opposes. Herd cited ObamaCare, which Trump and Congressional Republicans repeatedly tried and failed to repeal last year, as an example of how Trump used his executive privilege to restrict people’s access to the program.
Poll finds Wisconsinites favor path-to-citizenship, stronger gun regulationsAhead of upcoming elections for state and federal offices, poll results from the Marquette University Law School highlighted favorability ratings Read…
“With ObamaCare, he made it really difficult for people to enroll in the program by using administrative barriers that made it much harder for people to access it,” Herd said. “As a result, we had fewer people enroll in the program than we would have expected otherwise.”
In a departure from what Yglesias and Herd discussed, Copelovitch’s portion of the panel focused on the international impact of Trump’s presidency.
While Trump may be more of a conventional Republican president in his domestic policies, Copelovitch said Trump’s foreign policy and performance on the international stage has been a confirmation of the worries many held during the campaign.
Copelovitch said Trump’s foreign policy has been characterized by a focus on short-term gains and can be viewed through a “zero-sum” lens. If one country is winning, then Copelovitch said Trump believes someone else must be losing.
In Trump’s eyes, the United States has been on the losing side of this zero-sum struggle. Trump, according to Copelovitch, believes other countries have been benefitting at the U.S.’s expense through international trade deals and organizations for decades.
But Copelovitch said the entire international order established after World War II was designed with U.S. interests in mind. The International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other crucial international organizations all directly benefit the United States and have served its interests abroad for decades, Copelovitch said.
Thousands of Wisconsin high school students walk out of class, gather at Capitol to demand immediate gun reformStudents from Madison-area high schools stood up and walked out of their classes Wednesday afternoon, joining a mass of University Read…
Trump, however, has openly denounced the international system and has advocated for the United States to leave many of these organizations and international trade deals. This, Copelovtich said, hurts U.S. interests and makes the United States an unreliable international partner.
“The world is wondering whether the U.S. is a reliable partner on the international stage anymore,” Copelovitch said. “We can’t walk that back. The future president of either party is now entering international negotiations where the U.S. has a reputation and has openly said it does not value [international] institutions anymore.”
Paired with the “gutting” of the U.S. Department of State and the lack of respect for foreign policy expertise within the Trump administration, Copelovitch said he is worried about the long-term effects of Trump’s presidency on the United States’ international standing.