The greatest damage done during Trump’s first year concerns neither domestic nor foreign policy but something far deeper: it is the harm he has caused to America’s political system and to the democratic norms that underlie it.
No evaluation of the impact Trump has had as president could be complete without addressing his attacks upon the rule of law – upon notions of political and racial tolerance – upon national unity – upon the freedom of the press – upon civil discourse – upon truth itself.
The result has been to fray the bonds that hold American society together.
The tax legislation that was just rammed through Congress makes it quite clear that Donald Trump’s first year in the White House has been much more damaging to the nation than that of any other president in modern times.
Before this bill it might have been possible – though wrong – to argue that as president Trump had brought to his office more sound and fury than action.
The notion took hold for much of 2017 that his failures in Congress along with a series of court rulings had limited his impact – the failure to repeal Obamacare and the courts’ blocking of the early versions of his travel ban were cited as examples of the supposedly constrained Trump presidency.
The sweeping tax bill gives a huge tax cut to corporations and to wealthy individuals and will add roughly $1 trillion over the next ten years to the federal deficit.
It will widen further the already enormous gulf between the very wealthy and the rest of America.
And it sets the stage for an attempt by Republicans in Congress in 2018 to shrink the federal deficit by cutting benefits to a large number of Americans through reductions in Social Security – Medicare and other social programs.