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To assess the first year of Donald Trump’s tenure as President of the United States, Vladimir Yakunin, Chairman of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, gives his thoughts and analyses his actions up to now, while also seeking to identify the challenges that lie ahead. In global politics, the election of Trump as president has been one of the most important and impactful events of recent times, reflecting profound tensions in American society and casting doubts on America’s continued prominent role internationally. His first year in office is no less notable.
At home, Vladimir Yakunin notes, Trump has been very polarising, indeed unlike any predecessor. On one hand, he is one of the country’s least popular leaders. On the other hand, he has an extremely loyal core electorate. This points to a deeper issue within American society, whereby there are two sides which are increasingly unwilling to try to understand one another. Yakunin believes this to be further evidence that we are living not only in a multipolar world, but in a multiconceptual one as well. This also points to a difficulty in promoting liberal values abroad while they are being threatened at home.
It was Trump’s directness and no-nonsense approach to speaking to his constituents that both won him the election but also made him a divisive figure. He came into the spotlight as an insider. However, as Vladimir Yakunin points out, as president he cannot remain an outsider by definition and rather he embodies the establishment. This puts a deadline for him to deliver results or else he will end up alienating his electors. The solution is ultimately to try to reduce polarisation in society as a whole. For this, everyone needs to take a step-back from partisan politics and search for a more pragmatic course.
Vladimir Yakunin suggests a “compassionate conservatism” as a solution to bridging the growing divide in American society and allowing America to continue addressing domestic and international challenges adequately and appropriately. The United States remain one of the most important voices abroad and this is not a role easily relinquished, even if Trump’s governance style has distinctly shaken the global order. While not as polished and eloquent as his predecessors, Trump has had some early successes in delivering on his campaign promises. The jury is still out on whether his presidency will be a success and it will certainly be interesting to watch how his next years play out.