Trump made lots of promises on the campaign trail. Some appealed to conservative voters, while others roused political participation from white working class voters in rural communities, a population Paul Ryan referred to as "the voice out in this country that no one else heard." From the moment Trump shared his plans for a "beautiful" wall at the Mexico border, he has vowed to bring radical change to an office that, in his view, has been too concerned with political correctness to protect American interests. But so far, Trump hasn't been able to fulfill key campaign promises.
Two months into his presidency, Trump is finding that creating radical change through nationalistic policies isn't quite as simple as appealing to a specific population of the country. While he often boasted during the campaign about his high polling numbers or his ability to beat out 16 other Republican candidates for the GOP nomination, he now has to work towards gaining bipartisan support in order for his policies to pass.
Trump is still struggling to make this happen. Some of his plans have been challenged and thwarted by federal judges, and some have failed to receive enough votes to become law. Now, it remains to be seen whether or not those plans will ever be fulfilled. And many Americans surely hope they won't be.
1Building A "Big Beautiful Wall"
Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
This campaign promise was a particular favorite among many of Trump's supporters, often prompting audible chants of "Build the wall!" at rallies across the country. But after Trump unveiled his budget blueprint that called for a $2 billion down payment to begin construction on the wall, this plan may be in jeopardy.
Congress is set to vote on the budget in April, and with Democrats vowing to block any funding for the wall, Republicans are scrambling to find a way to avoid a government shutdown over this controversial policy. It's unlikely that such a large sum of money will be approved for the project when not a single Democrat supports it, and only a small percentage of Americans approve of it, according to the Pew Research Center.
2Making Mexico Pay For Said Wall
TRUMP'S 3 BIG CAMPAIGN PROMISES— Ben Ashworth (@AshworthBen) March 24, 2017
1) Repeal & Replace: Uhh no
2) Lock Her Up: Yeah can't actually do that
3) Mexico Will Pay For Wall: LOL
Trump repeatedly promised that the United States would not pay a dime for his proposed border wall that would keep Mexican immigrants out of the country. But former Mexican President Vicente Fox doesn't agree. In a strongly worded tweet directed at the President, Fox proclaimed that his country would not to fund the project. Trump then altered his position, saying that the United States will pay for the wall and Mexico will reimburse it. Fox was again insistent that Mexico wouldn't pay.
Since Trump's budget plan commits the United States to paying billions for the project, it looks like these costs, if the project is ever approved, would be on American taxpayers.
3A Total & Complete Shutdown Of Muslims Entering The United States
Trump made headlines by stating that banning all Muslims from entering the United States was the appropriate response to terrorist attacks. Since taking office in January, Trump got right to work trying to turn this isolationist approach into U.S. policy. His executive order that attempted to temporarily halt citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States was ultimately struck down by federal judges.
He then altered the ban to exclude Iraq from the list of countries, as well as exclude green card holders and people with dual citizenship. Federal judges struck this down, too, arguing that the ban was unconstitutional because it discriminated on the basis of religion. Trump has hinted that he may challenge the ruling and take the case to the Supreme Court, but given the past rulings on the ban, it's unlikely that this would be successful.
We will immediately repeal and replace ObamaCare - and nobody can do that like me. We will save $'s and have much better healthcare!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2016
Trump joined the GOP bandwagon by threatening to tarnish Obama's legacy by repealing his signature healthcare law that expanded Medicaid and insurance coverage for millions of Americans. He worked with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan — who has made it his personal mission to dismantle Obamacare — to introduce the American Health Care Act.
Ultimately, the plan received criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, especially from the conservative House Freedom Caucus. The bill failed to gain the support it needed to get past the House, and Trump has since said that he plans to move on to other initiatives. According to Ryan, Obamacare will be around for the "foreseeable future."
5Being Tough On China
China is not our friend. They are not our ally. They want to overtake us, and if we don’t get smart and tough soon, they will.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2013
Throughout the campaign, China became Trump's favorite scapegoat and punching bag. He blamed the Chinese for global warming. He claimed that the country is the reason for America's economic woes. And he even accused the Chinese government of currency manipulation to get ahead in the global market.
Trump promised to stand up to China to make America number one again. In fact, he began his Presidency by accepting a phone call from the President of Taiwan, a move that broke with decades of American diplomatic tradition by seeming to offer legitimacy to the disputed territory that has asserted its independence from China.
But since then, Trump has vowed to honor the "One China" policy, which states that America recognizes Beijing as the only government of China and refuses to establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
6Renegotiating The Iran Nuclear Deal
The Iran nuclear deal is a terrible one for the United States and the world. It does nothing but make Iran rich and will lead to catastrophe— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2015
The Iran Nuclear Deal is an Obama-era policy that lifted sanctions from Iran in exchange for preventing the country from expanding its nuclear program. Throughout the campaign, Trump voiced his opposition to the policy, calling it "the worst deal he has ever seen" and expressing his commitment to "rip it up" upon taking office.
Since then, Trump hasn't yet taken action on renegotiating the deal, and other world leaders, like the European Union, have expressed their commitment to keeping the policy in place.
7Draining The Swamp
Trump's ascension to the highest office in the country arguably has all the aspects of a populous uprising in which a charismatic leader appeals to the populous to overturn the political "elites" in power. Trump promised to champion the individual by getting rid of established, wealthy politicians by what he referred to as "draining the swamp."
But Trump's administration doesn't exactly reflect this. In fact, his Cabinet is one of the wealthiest in America. According to Politifact, 17 of Trump's Cabinet members have more combined wealth than a third of all Americans. His staff includes Wall Street executives and the former CEO of ExxonMobile, which couldn't be more different from the working class voter who believed Trump would shake up the establishment.
8Bringing Back Torture
Trump has said that torture "absolutely works," and that he would advocate for "a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding." But his pick to head the CIA, Mike Pompeo, doesn't agree with this policy, and Trump has since backed down from his controversial stance. In his confirmation hearing, Pompeo said that the CIA will "absolutely not" bring back torture as an interrogation technique, and Trump has said that he will follow whatever policy the CIA director thinks is best.
9Bombing The Sh*t Out Of ISIS
This one can be counted as a partial truth, but that is all the more dangerous because this particular promise puts not only the safety of America at risk, but also jeopardizes the lives of innocent civilians who are trapped in ISIS-controlled territories. So far, Trump's approval for a raid in Yemen resulted in the death of a Navy Seal and local civilians, and a recent U.S. airstrike in Mosul has attracted the attention of human rights groups like Amnesty International.
Trump's detailed plan for fighting ISIS has not yet been revealed, but the deaths that have occurred since Trump took office are troubling.
10Deporting Millions Of Illegal Immigrants
Trump promised to crack down on immigration by deporting individuals who are in the country illegally through an aggressive "military operation." A few days after his Inauguration, Trump did sign an executive order, called “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” that would aim to deport every illegal immigrant and not just those who committed serious crimes, as was the Obama-era policy. But carrying out this type of policy is a lot more complicated than signing a document, and it's unlikely that it will actually be possible to enact this law without costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
The New York Times reported that the order would require the administration to hire 15,000 new Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs and Enforcement officers, a feat that simply isn't possible to accomplish within Trump's four-year-term given the amount of training applicants have to endure to become an officer.
11Defunding Sanctuary Cities
Although Trump has threatened to deport illegal immigrants, even those who haven't committed any crimes, cities across the country known as "sanctuary cities" have committed to protecting illegal immigrants. They do this by refusing to comply with excessive immigration laws so that immigrants will feel comfortable reporting things like crime and domestic abuse without fear of deportation.
Trump has threatened to cut funding for these jurisdictions, but he may not legally be allowed to do so, according to Politifact. A key Supreme Court case seems to ban the president from cutting funding across the board unless the act is in pursuit of "the general welfare." This means that if sanctuary cities take the Trump administration to court, and there's a good chance they will, precedent may rule against Trump, leaving him legally unable to fulfill this key campaign promise.
I will renegotiate NAFTA. If I can’t make a great deal, we’re going to tear it up. We’re going to get this economy running again. #Debate— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 20, 2016
Trump said that he would begin renegotiating NAFTA, which he thinks hurts American workers by encouraging Mexican imports, on day one of his presidency.
Over 100 days into his term, Trump still hasn't released his plans for the Clinton-era trade deal with Canada and Mexico. Although Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have suggested that they are open to amending the agreement, Trump has threatened to withdraw completely if he doesn't like the compromise — an act that, Constitutionally, would require Congressional approval that he probably wouldn't be able to get.
13Loosening Gun Laws
The most stringent gun laws in the U.S. happen to be in Chicago - and look what is happening there!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2014
Trump promised to relax American gun laws on his first day in office by eliminating gun-free zones in places like schools and military bases. Because who doesn't need a gun in a school — you know, for bears.
"My first day, it gets signed, ok? My first day," Trump said at a rally in Vermont. "There's no more gun-free zones."
After 100 days in office, Trump has yet to sign any legislation relating to gun control.
14Offering "Insurance For Everybody"
How can you call something "health care reform” when 24 million people lose their health insurance?— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 24, 2017
In addition to promising that he would immediately repeal Obamacare, Trump ensured that his health care replacement plan would guarantee "insurance for everybody," and that he would not take coverage away from any of the millions of Americans who gained it as a result of the Affordable Care Act. But Trump's one attempt to implement his vision, the now-defeated American Health Care Act, would have caused approximately 24 million Americans to lose health insurance over the next decade, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office.
While Trump's ideas about health care seem to shift from week to week, he has stated that he doesn't think that it should be mandated by the government, something that would be impossible to implement without taking insurance away from people who are already covered by the Affordable Care Act.
15Eliminating Common Core Curriculum
Trump has expressed his opposition to Common Core curriculum on various platforms: he has tweeted about the need to repeal the controversial education policy, created a campaign video about his promise to dismantle it, and even stated on the GOP debate stage that he wants to revamp the American education system to "make education great."
Since then, Trump has remained relatively silent on the issue he was once so passionate about. In fact, when Gerard Robinson, a leader of Trump's transition team for education, was asked about Trump's plans to get rid of the standards, he simply stated, "To be determined. But he will expect his Secretary of Education to have something to say about Common Core."
To date, neither Trump nor his controversial Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have introduced legislation to reform national education policy.
16Bringing Back Jobs In The Coal Industry
Obama’s war on coal is killing American jobs, making us more energy dependent on our enemies & creating a great business disadvantage.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2014
If there's one demographic Trump appealed to extensively during the campaign, it's rural coal mining towns that have seen the coal industry dissipate before their eyes, leaving many desperate for work and financial stability. Trump promised to bring back the coal industry, and even signed executive orders in March to repeal Obama-era environmental regulations that placed a temporary ban on coal mining to reduce carbon dioxide emission. "You're going back to work," Trump said to the miners who were present as he signed the orders.
But according to The Washington Post, industry experts say that won't happen. These orders will do little to bring back coal mining jobs because it is not environmental regulations that have been threatening the industry, but rather the fact that power plant owners are increasingly turning to natural gas instead. In recent years, jobs in natural gas and clean energy have risen substantially while jobs in coal have steadily decreased. While Trump may appear to be making headway in revitalizing the coal industry through very public executive order signings, his efforts will arguably do little to actually fulfill his promise of bringing coal miners back to work.
17Making College Affordable
1.3 billion cut from Pell Grants, which helps students afford college. This’ll make it even harder for low-income students to graduate.— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) March 28, 2017
Trump expressed on the campaign trail a resolve to make two and four-year colleges affordable by pressuring high-endowment institutions to spend more on students, and by making it easier for students to pay off their loans. Trump seemed to have a genuine concern for the millions of Americans struggling to keep up with loan payments or put themselves though school — but his recent budget proposal suggests otherwise. The budget would make major cuts to programs like the Pell Grant, which provides financial support to low-income college students. It would also eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, a 50-year old program that supports young adults who otherwise wouldn't be able to attend college. While the proposed budget has yet to be approved, its cuts to funding that could help low-income students afford an education are troubling, and a far-cry from statements Trump made on the campaign trail.
Trump, like most politicians running for office, made a significant amount of promises during the presidential campaign in order to be elected into office. But unlike most politicians in recent American history, Trump appealed to populist sentiments by utilizing powerful, often inflammatory rhetoric that threatened to turn Washington upside-down and implement radical change.
So far, for better or worse, Trump has failed to deliver on these promises. It will be interesting to see what Trump will accomplish throughout his tenure as commander-in-chief. Major news organizations like The Washington Post even have live campaign promise trackers online that update Trump's campaign promises in real time as he continues to change, or attempt to change U.S. policy. Throughout the next four years, America will certainly be keeping an eye on whether the president sticks to his word, or whether he was simply telling voters what they wanted to hear without fully understanding the complexity of American politics.