What makes a good President? Is it pragmatism and vision, or, something else entirely? Trump presents himself as a political outsider: his disregard for political correctness is what attracted many of his supporters. Yet, his critics see his unruly behaviour as a weakness; that it is unbecoming for a President. Has Trump changed what it means to be Presidential? The Merriam-Webster defines “presidential” as: “of, relating to, or befitting a president or a president’s authority”. But, is that what Trump means, and his supporters, refer to?
Trump has not changed what acting presidential meansShow moreShow less
The core of what it means to be presidential has not changed. Trump does not act presidential, but that does not change what is expected of him.
In the international sphere, what it means to lead a nation has not changed. Acting unpresidential is seen as a weakness. Trump’s behaviour and America First policies have plunged US favourability internationally.
Trump’s comments about foreign nations even as a candidate alienated America’s allies and lowered his credibility and authority in the international sphere. The President of the US is the face of the nation in the international arena. How he behaves determines how the country is seen by the international community. Here, the meaning of presidential has not changed. Other nations and their leaders judge the strength of a country based on how they see their leader.
A Pew Research Center study shows that while the US is seen relatively favourably internationally this figure has dropped from 64% approval in 2016 and in 2019 was around 53%. Furthermore, confidence in Trump is significantly lower than his predecessor’s Obama. Figures suggest that in 2016, Obama had an approximate 74% favourability internationally. On the other hand, Trump in 2019 was at 31% favourability.
This has been compounded by Trump’s response to Covid-19. With approval ratings for the US plummeting to the lowest figures on record. Trump’s credibility internationally is lower than leaders in Germany and France, but figures also find him losing to China and Russia.
Other heads of state have followed in Trump's footsteps. This is the case of Rodrigo Duterte from the Philippines who was also elected in 2016. Other nations have also revised their requirements for leadership and what is needed in a president.
[P1] Acting presidential is important for international relations.
[P2] Trump does not act presidential.
[P3] Trump's behaviour worsens America's relationship with other nations.