Faculty members reflect on first 100 days of Trump presidency

Menlo teachers Charles Hanson, Ryan Dean, Charles Wetherell and Maren Adler discussed what has happened so far in Trump's presidency and what is likely to come in the future. Creative Commons Image: Gage Skidmore.

By Connor Van Ligten

It’s been more than 100 days since Donald Trump’s inauguration, and who better than members of Menlo’s History Department than to unpack the tumultuous events that have transpired in that time. Dr. Hanson, Mr. Wetherell, Mr. Dean, and Ms. Adler reflected on Trump’s first 100 days in front of an audience of Menlo students on May 4th.

The four teachers discussed a variety of topics from Trump’s controversial decisions, his challenging statements towards authority figures, and how his presidency has affected the political and social landscape of the U.S. The four individuals managed to bring a fresh and interesting perspective on a subject that has been covered endlessly for months.

The focus at the beginning of the discussion was on Trump’s methods in the beginning of his presidency. Trump’s aggressive push of his travel ban was at the heart of the conversation. Ms. Adler described the mindset that Trump has used when approaching his presidency. “He [thought] that being president would be like running a business, and so as a president [he] has made choices that one would might make as the CEO of a business,” Ms. Adler said. Ms. Adler stated that in her eyes this type of approach hasn’t been too successful for Trump and has been frustrating for all parties involved. Many of Trump’s actions defied conventional wisdom, as described by the history teachers, such as his meetings with dictators and his dealings with Russia.

Trump has an intense, loyal, group of followers throughout the country. Despite Trump’s low approval ratings, his supporters never seem to be dissuaded. Dr. Hanson commented on how Trump has retained his popularity despite his polarizing choices during the first 100 days of his term. “The durability of his popularity suggests to me that a certain number of people, maybe lots of people, voted for him not because they wanted him to do something, but because they wanted him to stop something else from happening,” Hanson said. Dr. Hanson believes that Trump’s actions won’t do much to dissuade his most loyal supporters, while the rest of the country struggles to find positives in his presidency.

However, some were able to find a positive outlook. Mr. Dean considered Congress’s higher approval ratings during the first 100 days of the Trump presidency as a silver lining, and commented on the potential for the deeply divided parties to work together. “I think it would be exciting if Republicans and Democrats could start governing [together], but they’re going to have to do it in a [non-partisan] way that appeals to the mass majority of Americans. Right now with the factions, it’s not clear that they can do that.” Mr. Dean hopes that the two parties can move past Trump and focus on the interests of the country.

Trump’s presidency has been covered to death by the media, and some fear that media domination is becoming problematic. Mr. Wetherell shared his thoughts on how Trump’s domination of the media cycle has caused important issues to fly under the radar. “Trump just sucks up all the news cycle now, so other really important issues[...] don’t get to the front page anymore,” Wetherell said. “I think that actually might have a more dangerous effect on our capacity to pay attention, to care about things.”

The talk provided Menlo students and teachers with many perspectives on politics and was able to inform the community about the presidential situation.

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