Why a poll comparing ratings given to the current Commander Chief and his predecessors is inaccurate.
A recent survey of American political science experts ranks current U.S. President Donald J. Trump dead last among all who have held the highest office in American politics.
The poll released 170 results from current and former members of the American Political Science Association. Former President Abraham Lincoln, often touted as the nation’s greatest president, held on to first place. The poll simply asked respondents to rank the presidents in terms of overall “greatness” on a scale of 0-100. Of the respondents, 57% were Democrats, 13% Republicans, 27% Independents, and 3% registered as “other”.
While CNN points out that President Trump ranked very low even among Republicans, it is important to recognize that ranking a president with only one year of presidency, and success on the topics of war and policy, as dead last among former presidents such Martin Van Buren and James Buchanan on the same list renders such a poll questionable at best. So, let’s dive in to this.
First, we must summarize President Trump’s first year in office. His most notable achievement thus far, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”, passed in early 2018 and reduced taxes for 85% of Americans by an average of $1,000 per household. Several companies put trickle-down economics into action as a result of the tax bill, boosting the income of their employees with bonuses from the tax cuts given to the corporations themselves.
Mr. Trump’s presidency has also seen the defeat of the physical presence of the Islamic Caliphate, most commonly known as ISIS. This is a huge step towards stability in the Middle East, brought on by a sort of “weapons free” policy for the military, something former President Barack Obama refused to allow. President Trump’s refusal to back down on North Korea may be partially responsible for the resumption of talks between the North Korea and South Korea. The recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel has strengthened relations with the U.S.’s strongest diplomatic ally in the Middle East.
Companies optimistic about Mr. Trump’s free market, low tax and regulation approach to business in America have begun to invest hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of jobs on US soil. By these accomplishments, Mr. Trump is hardly a failure in his first year. We have established that Mr. Trump can’t be considered a failure, but can anyone?
We should start with former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who ranks third on the poll. Mr. Roosevelt is known for two things: his policies pulled us out of the Great Depression in the early 1940’s and he was the president when the Allied forces won World War II. While the massive public works projects undertaken by his administration did provide paying jobs for millions of Americans and build our infrastructure into the behemoth it is today, they also drove us into a deep deficit. This was a deficit paid for by his decision to sell the weapons that fueled the fires of World War II and arguably contributed to Japan’s decision to bomb Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. He supported putting people into concentration camps based on their race, attempted to add Justices to the Supreme Court every time they declared one of his acts unconstitutional and the economic recovery was marginal until the United States was forced to join the war three years after it began.
Finally, he isn’t even the president who ended the war. Not only did he not have an active role in military actions, leaving it mostly to the future President Dwight Eisenhower and Generals Patton and MacArthur, but it was President Truman who pulled us through to the end of the war and chose to use more force against Japan. Finally, Social Security, Mr. Roosevelt’s brainchild, has ballooned to be about a quarter of the Federal Budget. His presidency is a legacy of oppressing minorities, supporting eugenics, bankrupting Generation Z half a century before they were born and using the Constitution as toilet paper. Despite his poll ranking, Mr. Roosevelt’s lapses in morality and and the consequences of his policies do not make him a greater president than President Trump.
To briefly investigate Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, we must observe what sets him apart. He is often seen as the hero who saved the American Experiment and keeping the country together through its most trying time. He did, after all, free the slaves and then mend the country which became two and then became one again. Why and how did he do it? I won’t, by any means, suggest that the South was in the right. They were not. To own another human being is a terrible injustice. I won’t however, pretend like many do that emancipation was ever Lincoln’s goal.
“If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that,” Mr. Lincoln said. Lincoln cared not for the slaves, but for the Union. He held the country together, although the Civil War had the highest American death toll than any other war. He may be the greatest of our presidents for that reason, or he may be a mediocre president whose term was glorified through the actions of his military leaders.
Lastly, we should take a look at a genuinely terrible former president, James Buchanan, who was from my home state of Pennsylvania. His presidency immediately preceded Mr. Lincoln’s, and his failure to address the issue of slavery in a meaningful way. He actively lobbied for the admission of Kansas as a slave state in a time when the world was coming to the conclusion that slavery was wrong. He also suggested that Congress stay out of the issue of slavery, arguing that States should have the right to make the decision for themselves. He supported the Supreme Court’s decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford, in which they determined that descendants of slaves could not become citizens or have legal ability to sue. He also went to war against Utah because he was told they were staging a rebellion, and never bothered to check if it was true. Essentially, every single decision made by Mr. Buchanan was the wrong one. He was pro-slavery, anti-religious freedom for Mormons and was openly imperialist towards Mexico and Central America. He failed to keep Democrats united, leading to the split in the Democratic Party which allowed Congress to select Lincoln as President, which precipitated the secession of the Southern states.
Until Mr. Trump manages to not only support slavery, but also oppose religious freedom, advocate for the annexation of two Mexican states and Cuba, and go to war based on uncorroborated reports of violence in an American territory, he could never legitimately rank lower than Mr. Buchanan. In fact, if his term doesn’t end in a recession and multiple foreign wars, he shouldn’t rank any lower than George W. Bush. He hasn’t sold weapons to terrorists so in fact he may even have a leg up on Reagan. Former President Barack Obama started multiple wars, made a terrible deal with Iran, sold weapons to the people who keep joining ISIS, managed to raise tensions with Russia, and oversaw a $983 billion increase in the National Debt, yet he’s in the Top 10 in this poll. Even former President Andrew Jackson ranks higher than Mr. Trump. The Trail of Tears alone should put Mr. Jackson beneath the current POTUS.
In essence, to say that Mr. Trump is the worst president in U.S. History is utterly absurd.