US under Trump increasingly isolated on international stage

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The 11-month Presidency of Donald Trump in the United States has highlighted the huge gulf between expert analysis of his accomplishments and that of his die-hard supporters. That’s the view of a political journalist and analyst who has reported on the incumbent since before his shock victory against Hillary Clinton in November 2016.

Many of his major policy promises remain unfulfilled, but what he has managed to enact through executive orders has seen the United States increasingly isolated on the international stage.

If you’re a member of President Trump’s core support base then you think he’s doing a great job, he often tweets about how the stock market has hit record highs and how unemployment has fallen close to 4% – the lowest level since 2000.

But we’ve witnessed a retreat by the United States administration under his America First policy, while some decisions have alarmed even close allies abroad.

Analyst Luke Vargas says, “The first-year of the Trump Presidency exposes the big gulf between the way the press and experts in various fields view the president and the way his own base views the President. If you’re in the position of being a member of Trump’s base, you see a lot of what we call ‘red meat’ – policies that may be small in their impact, but that really have an emotional appeal to his supporters.”

With his popularity hovering at around 32% less than one year into his presidency, Vargas believes his focus has almost entirely been on keeping that minority of support onside.

The announcement to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital saw Washington rebuked by the rest of the world. His withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement stunned even a majority of Americans. His controversial travel ban against Muslim Majority nations continues to work its way through the courts, while appointing an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice was seen as fodder for his base.

Vargas says, “It’s credible in so far as the fact that the President won the presidency by only appealing to a small number of American voters and if he’s able to convince that small number, 30% that actually got him into the White House the first time and he can keep appealing to them and they think he’s doing a good job, it’s conceivable he could win election again even if the rest of the American public has serious doubts about the trajectory of his Presidency and the success he’s had so far.”

His twitter feed is what often directs the day’s political narrative, a platform he has used to praise his accomplishments, demean his opponents or attack the media critical of his conduct.

He also continues to hold campaign style rallies where his supporters gather to refuel a President more unpopular than any of his predecessors in recent memory.

Vargas says it should come as a surprise that President Trump has lost his popularity.

“Typically, even when the democrats see a Republican elected, their support for that leader goes down through time, but Trump’s drop in popularity has been precipitous and very dramatic and I think it’s very telling that his legislative agenda, even when he has controlled the presidency and both houses of congress, is in the mud.”

Hovering like a dark cloud has been the investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, an investigation headed by a special counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller, who has already targeted a former Trump campaign chair, former White House national security adviser and a lesser known foreign policy adviser to the President’s campaign among others.

“The man leading the Russia investigation, Robert Mueller is famous for never bargaining down. Every step he takes is in pursuit of getting someone bigger to fess up to something and I think we have seen in the progression of people he’s been targeting of movement to go after Trump’s inner circle, now he’s already very close to that inner circle by capturing the president’s former national security adviser. So, the question becomes, ‘is it one of President Trump’s relatives? Is it a member of his senior staff right now that might be the target of that investigation?’ I think we are getting to the point where the walls are closing in around him, but the question is where does the Special Counsel leave this investigation.”

And while President Trump settles into his first end-of-year holiday season in the White House, there has to be a recognition that his 11 months have galvanized millions around the country in opposition to his agenda – evidenced a day after his inauguration when millions of people marched in Washington and around the globe.

The mid-term elections could further stymie whatever legislative agenda he might have, with early indications that Democrats could take at least the Senate back come the end of 2018.