A Final Assessment of the Trump Presidency, and the Path Forward

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A Final Assessment of the Trump Presidency, and the Path Forward

In hindsight, I wish I had published this article before the events of January 6 at the Capitol building. My goal in this piece has been important to me for a long time — an objective, thoughtful, and fair assessment of the Trump presidency, complete with some suggestions for the path forward in political life after Trump. The ambitions of this article are not changed by the riots, and in fact some conclusions are reinforced by them. However, the already high volume at which this particular conversation takes place in all circles is now even higher, and when everything is this loud, it seems that nothing gets heard at all. I have never written an article before where I felt such a burden to manage the volume to the end of the takeaways, even if not everything will be found agreeable by all.

That strange and awkward preface is not something I can ever imagine writing for the typical articles I author in the fields of economics, culture, and social thought. Sure, all of these areas — especially the ones with direct and even controversial political undertones — invoke emotion and heated opinions. But I have seen nothing in decades as a consumer or producer of commentary and opinion that has created the intensity of discussions like Donald Trump. Throughout his 2015–16 campaign and throughout his presidency, I have done my best to offer thoughtful contributions to these discussions. I have failed in my goal at times to lower the temperature, and I am sure I could comb my own writings over the years and find things I regret. But I do stand behind my general intent and approach — to be a voice for truth, whereby good things are called good and bad things are called bad.

That is my intent in this article: to assess the overall presidency of Donald Trump, and to do so with no need for vindication, no axe to grind, and a truly open and humble disposition. The advantage (and burden) of such a piece versus all of the various ad hoc events, policies, tweets, and decisions over the years is that I am now trying to “pull it all together.” There is some finality in this, and that means final conclusions will offend or bother some readers. I hope the offense or bother this piece produces for supporters and critics of the president will be minimal and even pre-forgiven. I write on this subject because I want a path forward.