Heather du Plessis-Allan: Why Trump's first year hasn't been that bad

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Sunday, 14 January 2018, 2:16PM
On Saturday it'll be Donald Trump's one-year anniversary as POTUS (Image / Getty Images)
On Saturday it'll be Donald Trump's one-year anniversary as POTUS (Image / Getty Images)

On Saturday it'll be Donald Trump's one-year anniversary as Leader of the Free World.

It's tempting to look back at his last year and write it off as a disaster. Tempting to predict that, if he carries on like he has over the past 12 months, there's no way Trump will be re-elected in 2020.

Don't be tempted. The past year for The Don hasn't been as bad as you may think.
Firstly, business loves him. The American stock markets are at record highs. That kind of sentiment gives businesses the confidence to expand and invest, and it means ordinary Americans get jobs and pay rises.

Secondly, he's got stuff done. At the tail end of last year, he passed radical tax reform legislation when no one thought it was possible, and the Supreme Court finally cleared his controversial Muslim travel ban.

Regardless of how you personally feel about either, they are big wins for him and that makes him a winner in the eyes of his voters.

Thirdly, Trump's voters love him. Sure, his national approval ratings are at a dismal 37 percent — if you compare that to the previous six presidents, he's the most unpopular by a mile.

But, if you break it down further and look at Republican voters only, his approvals sit at 87 percent. That's huge support.

There's very little voter regret among Trump supporters and that's because he's as crazy a President as he promised to be.

Think the Muslim travel ban, his progressing plans to build the Mexican border wall, his ongoing campaign of hatred towards the media, his bullying of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, his power-battle handshake with French leader Emmanuel Macron and his tweeting.

Again — I can't stress this enough — you may hate all of these things but his supporters love them.

They love the Muslim ban because they actually think Muslims want to kill Americans, they like The Wall because they think illegal immigrants are bludgers, they think the media are pushing political correctness, Kim Jong Un needs a bit of a sorting out, the rest of the world — North Korea and France included — need to be told who's boss, and they find his crazy Tweets amusing and endearing.

Trump's voters like that he didn't change when he became President. They like that he still eats McDonald's burgers, even in the White House. They like that he admitted the job is harder than he thought it would be. It makes him human. They can identify with him.

Sure, he's had some setbacks. The loss of the Senate election in Alabama last month, the ongoing chaos in the White House, the release in the past week of Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury.

But what we think will be devastating, Trump somehow manages to survive. Remember, this is the man who survived pussy-gate.

Take Fire and Fury for example. I've giggled my way through the book's accounts of Trump's vanity, unsophistication and stupidity, but Trump's supporters won't believe the stories. They won't even read the book.

For them, this is just another hit job by liberal elites who refuse to accept an imposter. The more Trump is attacked, the more they back him.

And this is the important thing to remember: Trump does not need you to like him. He does not need world leaders to like him. He does not even need all of America to like him. He needs only his supporters to like him.

He won convincingly a year ago. If he can keep that support, which he is doing so far, and if the Democrats stay in a state of disarray, he'll be back in 2020.

Brace yourself.

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday and the upcoming morning host of Newstalk ZB in Wellington, starting January 22, from 8.30 am to noon.

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