Say the name, Donald Trump.
How does that make you feel? Now take that emotion and replace it with rational logic. In our nation’s short existence we’ve had a total of 45 presidents. Would you place Trump in the best or worst category?
With everything that’s going on in the world and Coronavirus being front and center in everything we see and hear, this is still an election year in the United States. This November, citizens around the country and across the globe via mail-in ballot will decide who the next president of the United States will be. Will Trump be reelected or will the presumptive Democratic challenger Joe Biden best him at the ballot box?
I hadn’t given much thought as to how history will rank Trump years after he’s long gone from office.
Like anything in life, when you’re in the moment you judge a person in part with a balance of emotion and personal impact. If you are one of the now 10% of the population who suddenly finds themselves unemployed due to government-mandated shutdowns of entire industries, you are looking for someone to take your frustrations out on. Though Trump does not dictate local and state decisions, he is the face of the Republican Party and the ultimate person in charge of determining policy and the countries response to the Coronavirus.
When the illness, hospitalization, and death curve are eventually flattened and decreased, the economy will reopen on a measured basis. Governors will seek guidance from the President, his task force, and local health officials to see if it’s safe to remove employment and social distancing restrictions. Until that time, expect a continuance of out of an abundance of caution threats against civil liberties and tickets coupled with arrests for not complying.
Yes, life sucks for many right now!
So, how would you rank Trump as a President? On a scale of 1 – 10, do you think his handling of the crisis has been flawless or as bungled as can be? Do you think he and politicians on both sides of the aisle failed to initially take this virus seriously and were slow to implement social distancing guidelines?
Do you think Republican’s earlier claims of the Coronavirus being used against the President as a form of “impeachment hoax” were accurate? Inversely, do you feel that Democrats who voiced concerns of racism and xenophobia against Trump’s decision to restrict travel from China in January were shortsighted and wreaked of identity politics as usual? Finally, are you, like me, one of the many in the country who got it wrong and underestimated the devastation that this virus would have?
The inspiration for this post came from a December 19, 2019, US News article. The paper’s staff looked back in time and listed what they ranked as the top ten worst U.S. Presidents in history. Trump is not included for those that were wondering. U.S. News opted not to include President Donald Trump, who has yet to finish his first term. But he was deemed to be the worst president on the Presidential Greatness Rankings and third-worst in Siena’s Presidential Expert Poll.
The rankings of the worst president’s have fluctuated annually as opinions change and memories fade. Here is the list of the top 10 worst U.S. President’s of all time for now.
10. Benjamin Harrison
9. Chester A. Arthur
8. Herbert Hoover
7. (Tie) John Tyler
6. (Tie) Millard Fillmore
5. William Henry Harrison
4. Warren G. Harding
3. Franklin Pierce
2. Andrew Johnson
1. James Buchanan
The report also had some dishonorable mentions.
George W. Bush was tied with Zachary Taylor for 11th worst.
Richard Nixon was 15th worst.
Jimmy Carter was 18th worst.
Gerald Ford was 19th worst.
The recurring theme for the top ten revolved around slavery, scandals, poor economic policies, trade wars, and the Great Depression. Harrison may be unfairly grouped in as his presidency lasted only 30 days due to contracting pneumonia. He did deliver the longest inaugural address in U.S. history; guess he had a lot to say. Harding loved to play golf and poker. Johnson survived impeachment. Buchanan was ranked worst because he refused to challenge either the spread of slavery or the growing bloc of states that became the confederacy.
Where does that leave Trump? If we have to go by logic and not partisan loyalty or raw emotion, would Trump rank in the top 10 of worst presidents?
How about the other side of the poll? The same paper published an article on who was ranked in the top five.
According to Andrew Soergel, Senior Writer, Economics, the presidents at the top of the poll have by in large remained the same. Though they have traded places on occasion, the legacies and achievements of these past leaders have left an indelible mark and shaped our country’s future for the better.
“The top five – George Washington, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson – have been the top 5, jockeying for position, over all 37 years (of the Siena poll),” says Don Levy, director of the Siena College Research Institute. “There is certainly collective agreement on that.”
The faces of three of those four men – Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln – are immortalized on the towering granite walls of Mount Rushmore, with Theodore Roosevelt occupying the fourth spot on the Keystone, South Dakota national memorial.
Completed in 1941, the shrine of democracy that is Mount Rushmore was designed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum to embody the birth, growth, development, and preservation of the United States. For more than 200 years, presidents have endeavored to leave a similar mark on the country, hoping that their legacy, too, is etched in the bedrock of American history.
Where does that leave Trump? He loves to speak in hyperbole. In his mind, he’s the greatest president of all time. I guess that’s a good attitude to have when you’re trash-talking your opponents in sports. When you are the leader of the free world, a little humility is preferred.
We live in ever polarizing times. Half the country votes against and demonizes you based upon political affiliation. Elections have become popularity contests. The person with the most charisma who can raise the most money and master the art of 30-second attack ad sound bites usually wins. If that is the measure of a candidate, Trump is one of the best to do it.
The number one thing Trump had going for him was the economy. For three years it was his go-to source of pride along with a record-high stock market.
Up until two months ago, unemployment was at 50-year lows of 3.5%. Now, millions have filed for unemployment claims at a pace that has never been seen before. Millions more will be joining them and the country will go from recession to depression if the people in this country and around the world are not allowed to go back to work. This may not be Trump’s fault but he is the face of the nation. How the history books rank Trump will come down to how fast we can defeat the Coronavirus. That may not be fair but life is not fair. A great coach is only great when his team wins. Outside of political scandals that impact a president’s legacy, the health and wealth of a nation along with peace and prosperity are the only metrics that matter when measuring greatness. How the country responds and if and when it recovers will not only determine if Trump gets four more years but how he is judged in the history books forever.