Trump’s early setback

The U.S. is effectivel­y without a leader. This is not good for the country or the world.

Dünya Executive - - COVER PAGE - Ilter TURAN Columnist

During a recent visit to the Washington suburb of Bethesda, I stopped in at an Apple store. The first clerk, named Ali, told me his father was Ethiopian. The next clerk, Arya, was from an Iranian family. I looked around the shop. Most of the customers’ first language was not English.

Immigratio­n has always added value to American society. Today, in this post-industrial era, Silicon Valley, the world’s center of innovation, attracts the most talented minds. President Donald Trump’s plans to limit immigratio­n to the United States will most certainly undermine this dynamism.

People who know the issue well consistent­ly say that U.S. employment is up and that immigrants do not pose a problem. Opposition to immigratio­n is from those left jobless in areas where production has ceased and from those who are past the age where they can retrain for new profession­s.

The Trump administra­tion’s stance on immigratio­n is a good example of poorly researched methods to tap populism. Its measures to prevent immigratio­n have been halted by the judiciary, and it should come as no surprise that these measures, which were hastily drawn up, without preparatio­n or consultati­on with experts, got stuck in the courts.

Ideologica­l approach

Trump is stubbornly trying to enact policy with staff chosen from outside of the usual U.S. politics, limited in ability and who approach events ideologica­lly. This has rendered the Trump administra­tion ineffectiv­e.

When it realized it would fail to repeal former President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan, the White House was forced to withdraw its bill from the House of Representa­tives. Trump had made this a central plank in his campaign, declaring with great fanfare that he would abolish mandatory health insurance. The whole affair looked like a defeat. Speculatio­n in the media says his planned tax reform awaits a similar fate, with Congress more interested in reducing public spending rather than cutting taxes.

Institutio­ns to become weaker

Let’s take a closer look at the Trump administra­tion’s challenges. Close observers of U.S. politics point out that never before has a president, elected five months ago and in office for three, failed to appoint cabinet secretarie­s and senior bureaucrat­s by this stage.

A friend of mine who is a senior official says a secretary has yet to be appointed at his department after the nominee had to with- draw due to problems in his background. Meanwhile, a number of ideologica­l personnel have materializ­ed at the department. These individual­s rarely meet with the career bureaucrat­s and are the “vanguard forces” aimed at capturing the department by shaping it with their ideologica­l preference­s.

Veteran senior officials with experience have begun to resign. The fear is that the bureaucrac­y will move further away from profession­alism and institutio­ns will become weaker, unable to fulfill their duties.

Checks and balances

The Trump administra­tion’s aim in pursuing a hardline ideologica­l stance should be to sustain voter support. However, in a system based on checks and balances, this approach actually makes things harder for the administra­tion, resulting in failures.

John McCain, the senator from Arizona and former Republican presidenti­al candidate, was asked in late March at the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum what advice he had for Trump. McCain said that first Trump needed to reach out to the other side and find consensus with Democratic members of Congress in order to pass the laws he wants.

The second point he made was that the president must learn to work with the bureaucrac­y, and the third was that the president needs to stop waking up early and sending tweets. The president’s predilecti­on for writing whatever comes to his mind on Twitter has resulted in confusion and forces his staff to spend their time trying to reduce the damage these proclamati­ons incur, while neglecting their other work.

Business ties with Russia

There are two other factors that have made the Trump administra­tion’s work difficult. For one, it’s clear that some figures are having trouble explaining their ties with Russia. General Michael Flynn, who served as national security adviser, was forced to resign over false statements he made about matters predating his appointmen­t. It appears that, as this issue deepens, others are bound to get caught up in it.

Country without a leader

The second factor is that members of Trump’s cadre have not fully cut their business ties and face conflicts of interest. Among those facing such concerns is Jared Kushner, the president’s special adviser and son-in-law.

The U.S. administra­tion, which has still not successful­ly begun its tasks, which has been unable to calculate fully the results of its actions and doesn’t know how to reconcile with its rivals , is trying to control the situation by stumbling through and zigzagging.

At the start of his term, when he should be enjoying a honeymoon with voters, the president’s approval rating has fallen to 30 percent. This is a first in U.S. history. Those in the most uncomforta­ble position are Trump’s voters, low-income white Americans. The country is effectivel­y without a leader. It’s impossible to say this is good for the United States or the world. Will it improve? That does not appear likely.

The president’s approval rating has fallen to 30 percent. Those in the most uncomforta­ble position are Trump’s voters, low-income white Americans. The country is effectivel­y without a leader. It is impossible to say this is good for the United States or the world.

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