Trump’s tumultuous start to his reign as Commander in Chief has divided opinion. Dan Rather, who hosted CBS Evening News for 25 years described Trump’s first two-months in the White House as “the worst start to a time in office I have ever seen,” in a Facebook post.
Rather went on to describe Trump’s start in office as “chaotic” pointing to the presidents failure to repeal Obamacare, his attempt – and failure – to pass a majority-Muslim travel ban, the FBI investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia, accusations that Obama tapped his phone in Trump Tower, Twitter spats with celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, and his bizarre refusal to shake German chancellor Angela Merkel’s hand live on television. That’s a busy couple of months even by Trump’s standards!
When it comes to labelling a president as the worst, everyone has their opinion. Let’s not forget that a common narrative of Trump’s campaign was his insistence that Barack Obama was “the worst president, maybe in the history of our country.” Question is: was he right? Or is the contemporary view that Trump holds that unwanted accolade accurate? Or perhaps we have to cast our judgmental gaze back a little deeper into history.
Way back in the nineteenth century President James Buchanan, who was the 15th president of the U.S. serving between 1857-1861, was responsible for some horrific traumas on the American people.
Buchanan believed in white supremacy, limited government and the South’s right to perpetuate it’s “peculiar institution.” He was referring to the slave trade. Antislavery sentiment had grown in the North to the extent that it was the central principle of a new political party, the Republicans.
The political debate turned violent, and James Buchanan was responsible for the deaths of over 600,000 Americans – whilst causing unimaginable misery for many millions more. Before the end of his presidency, he let Southern troops seize forts, large arsenals and naval vessels giving them a substantial head start going into the civil war.
Buchanan’s leadership was not only rife with bloodshed due to the civil war he plunged America into, he also caused the economy to plummet, revoked human rights from an entire race and violated the constitutional separation of power.
Sadly, Buchanan isn’t the only candidate for worst president ever. That’s an accolade that many people feel Richard Nixon deserves – after all he’s the only person to ever resign the presidency in the history of America.
Nixon was Commander in Chief between 1969-1874. The timing of his presidency was unfortunate for Tricky Dick, who inherited the Vietnam War when he took office. However, he did his bit to prolong the war and use an armistice to his political advantage. Ignoring a peace deal that was on the table only to sign almost an identical deal years later.
His refusal to sign the agreement cost many thousands of lives, and engulfed neighbouring Cambodia in an unnecessary fight that created a monster in the Khmer Rouge. Led by Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge ruled the South Asian country in the most brutal fashion, and were responsible for killing an estimated two million people.
Nixon’s harsh stance on law and order, particularly his War on Drugs, was the birth of contemporary America’s incarceration culture, characterised quite staggeringly by the fact that the U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s prison population.
Under Nixon, marijuana and petty drug offences were punished with jail sentences. This period of harsh justice broke up families and threw the book at decent people, causing unrest and distrust towards law enforcements in communities across America. He was also responsible for the Watergate scandal, which eventually led to President Nixon resigning on August 9th 1974.
After just two-months it would be unfair to place Trump amongst the aforementioned company. Nor can he be thought of in a list of successful presidents just yet. His early days have been turbulent, sure, but Trump deserves time to prove his doubters wrong. Although he might want to act fast. A Politico poll released yesterday found the president had a 50 percent disapproval rate.