By Diogenes of Sinope
Well there you have it! President Donald John Trump was bestowed by members of the American Political Science Association (APSA) the title of the worst president in United States’ history. APSA members were asked by Professor Brandon Rottinghaus of the University of Houston and Professor Justin S. Vaughn of Boise State University to rate the “greatness” of our nation’s presidents for the 2018 Presidents & Executive Politics Presidential Greatness Survey. One would think that members of a prestigious academic organization would not succumb to modern day sentiments on our current president and to judge fairly. You would be mistaken.
For those of you think that the survey was biased, your worries are justified. If one is to criticize our President or any governmental official, it ought to be done with clear facts and without ideological motives. 57% of the survey’s subjects were liberal Democrats. Conservative Republicans made up a mere 12% of the survey while 27% identified as independent. In this day and age, it is liberal Democrats such as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Vice-President Joe Biden who rally behind the anti-Trump wagon without reflecting on their own actions. I urge the reader to recall Senator Warren’s blatant embrace of an illegitimate Native American identity and Biden’s efforts to disrupt federal bussing initiatives.
However, this does not disqualify the survey. Political affiliations may mean nothing to the quality of any political study as long as the conclusions were logical and sound. President Trump can be criticized with persuasive arguments by all sides, so the survey’s contents must be judged. The survey, unfortunately, lacks any real understanding of history and it is a damning indictment of the American historian.
It unreasonable to judge a leader’s accomplishments and failures when his term is not even over. The public and, by extension, political scientists do not have access to the executive branch’s inner meetings, their internal documents, or the ability to foresee how their policies will impact the future. Critics will often stick to either decrying the president or praising the president without understanding the inner workings of government. It is why surveys such as this are quite unreliable. Opinions change as additional information comes out mostly when a new administration takes over the White House and the policies are studied without political pressure. Former President George W. Bush remarked “History will ultimately judge the decisions…” when asked about his legacy. He was correct. For those young to the political scene, George W. Bush left office with some of the lowest approval ratings. The Gallup Poll gave him a 34% approval rating. One of his predecessors, Harry S. Truman, left office in 1951 with a 22% approval rating. These facts would seem to pinpoint that these two individuals would go down as among the worst elected officials to hold office. The 2018 Greatness Survey put Truman as the 6th greatest president while Bush was ranked as the 35th greatest president. This is quite a shift from the hatred tossed upon these two individuals. How on earth did they rank higher?
History happened. Truman and Bush were reexamined and then praised for their decisions. Truman is currently seen as a leader who stalled General Secretary Joseph Stalin’s ambitions for Soviet world domination. Bush is remembered for his successful diplomatic efforts to end the Darfur Civil War which his successor, former President Barack Obama, dismantled. Bush also remains to this day the only president to have tried a head of state official under the charge of genocide and to carry out the sentencing. Tell me, how could any person judge them if time had not passed enough for things to be put into perspective? What may seem great today may be a disaster tomorrow.
Another issue is how suspicious these ratings are. The APSA has deemed Trump to be the worst president. He, in their view, surpasses Richard M. Nixon who violated federal law during the 1968 campaign, who expanded the Vietnam War without congressional approval, who obstructed a federal investigation into a burglary that his White House team had orchestrated, and who remains the only president to resign from a threat of impeachment. Trump’s nonsensical tweets are, in the ASPA’s choir, more dangerous to American democracy than Nixon’s actions. He is worse than Andrew Johnson whose attempts to stifle Reconstruction efforts worsened the tensions between the Republicans and Democrats while disrupting civil rights efforts for recently freed slaves. The APSA decided that a tax cuts cut deeper into America’s soul than failing to rebuild a war-nation. He is worse than Woodrow Wilson whose birdbrained escapades led to America’s involvement in the first World War, the 1915 invasion of Haiti which lasted for nearly twenty years, sending federal troops into Mexican soil twice, the escalation of the Russian Revolution, and an inefficient League of Nations that was not equipped to deal with ethnic tensions. This is in addition to Wilson’s overwhelmingly racist policies towards blacks, his poor academic standing as a United States historian, and the privatized of the Federal Reserve. Yes, Trump, who has not finished his term and who has declared Jerusalem to be capital of Israel, is the devil when compared to Wilson. Can someone wake me up when common sense reappears?