President Trump recently addressed the United Nations. In his speech, he claimed that his administration accomplished more than any other President’s administration in US history:
“In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”
President Trump has developed somewhat of a reputation for hyperbole and exaggeration…which is probably why the United Nations General Assembly quite literally laughed, at his claim. Many people, especially his detractors, will dismiss his claim outright as another one of his grandiose proclamations. But, being the history teacher that I am, I have a duty to at least attempt to be objective as I teach my students to do.
So, let’s actually take a minute to compare Trump’s major accomplishments to his well-known predecessors.
- Laid the foundation for the presidency
- Set precedents around term limits and cabinet positions
- Helped push through the Bill of Rights
- Oversaw the birth of a new country.
- Presided over the Civil War which maintained the Union
- Issued the Emancipation Proclamation which freed the slaves
- Created the “New Deal” which is often credited with ending the Great Depression
- Creating social security
- Reformed the banking system.
- Pulled the country out of the Great Recession
- Oversaw a bull run in the market which persists today
- Pushed through marriage equality
- Continued economic growth
- Repealed prior legislation
In comparison to his counterparts, Trump’s resume is almost objectively lacking. To be fair, he has only been president for “less than two years” however his claim that he’s accomplished more than anyone simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Truthfully there are many Presidents not included on this list that would have a much better claim to that than Trump.
Of course, there is some selection bias in terms of what is included or excluded in the list of accomplishments, but considering how often Trump and his proponents cite his economy, it’s fair to say that’s seen as his biggest accomplishment.
Currently, President Trump is spending a lot of energy trying to undo Obama era legislation and playing hardball with China.
Continued economic growth is great but an inheriting 8-year bull market and building on it is not equal to pulling a country out of a depression. There have been no great precedents set during Trump’s term, no catastrophes averted, no landmark legislation passed or no great wars won.
Maybe he will do these things, but he hasn’t yet. This makes it hard to put him over the people who have, making President Trump’s claim shaky at best.