You all know who Donald Trump is.
If you don’t know who he is you’ve had to have been in a coma for at least 30 years. And if you did just wake up from a 30+ year coma, you probably have no idea how the internet works and I’m curious how you got to this blog.
For the rest of you, this blog is not a dive into who Trump is or what he personally does, but rather the effect he’s had on our country as a whole.
This is not meant to be pro or anti President Trump, but merely an investigation into what he has done. So please, put aside your political opinions and give some thought to what we are saying:
1. Learning the Political Process
While some of you may have had to take a Civics class at some point during school, it’s probably been long enough that you forgot about many aspects of how the government works.
Our government is a very complicated thing and sometime even those in it don’t fully understand how it works.
When you have so many things to memorize certain things fall out.
You can’t remember the function of the Judicial Branch when there’s other important information like the story of the first time you got to second base. Something has to go and generally the boring stuff is what gets tossed.
Fortunately, having Trump in office has led to an increase in awareness of the political process.
Trump dominates headlines and talking points across the country and the political spectrum.
Everywhere you look you’ll hear something about Trump or what he said, or the latest thing he did. Whether it be SNL, Fox and Friends, hell even SportsCenter will put clips of athletes talking about Trump on there.
The point is, that awareness of what’s happening in the political sphere is at an all time high. People hear about all these things and start to learn more about what is happening in their government.
2. Increase in Political Conversation
Perhaps the most obvious effect of Trump’s presidency is the massive uptick in (not so) civil debate.
People everywhere have an opinion on each Trump action or tweet and people feel the need to share their own thoughts while also trying to get a jab in.
This tends to lead to people from the other side of the aisle to voice their thoughts as well as get in a clever comeback to the original jab.
You’ve probably seen this play out over many a Facebook post, Twitter thread, or even over the dinner table at Thanksgiving.
Especially early on in Trump’s presidency, we were having lots of arguments, but maybe nothing constructive was occurring. Instead it turns out more like watching your 10 year old cousins argue about cookies.
However, practice makes perfect and we as a society have certainly gotten lots of practice lately. Though I wouldn’t say we are anywhere near perfect, we’ve come quite a way since 2015/2016.
It’s tough to say for certain that things will be better in the future, but there are signs of progress.
I think the biggest sign that things are improving is the decrease of memes and comedy bits about Facebook fights and arguing with the other side.
Gone are the days of having to pretend that SNL bits about arguing with your family are funny. Instead you just have to watch some other dumb video that Larry from accounting is bothering you with.
3. Voter Engagement
One of the largest scale effects of Trump’s presidency has been the amount of people that started getting involved in politics.
Using data from the United States Elections Project run by Dr. Michael McDonald you can track voting trends from all the way back in the 1700s. For this blog I averaged out the midterm turnout from 1942-2014 and it came out to be 41.2%. The absolute worst turnout in that stretch was in 2014 at 36.7% which is pretty bad.
A lot of the people who did not go out and vote in 2014 are probably the same ones who are whining the loudest on social media.
If you see someone like that, go ahead and tell them that they’re wasting everybody’s brain cells and to just stop.
In spite of the terrible 2014 turnout, in 2018, the first midterm with Trump as president, something strange happened. Voter turnout jumped dramatically. In 2018 50.3% of people voted in the elections. Compared to 2014 that is a 37 percent change and compared to the historical data it’s a 22 percent change.
While the sample size is small enough you can’t say anything for certain, that is a significant difference in voting. Maybe people finally realized that if they actually went out and voted they could impact what happens.
Who would have known?
There is no other time in US history where there was that big of a change, positive or negative. I think that can be directly attributed to Trump being in office and people wanting to impact the elections by finally doing what our founding fathers wanted us to do.
Overall, it can be tough to have an objective conversation about Donald Trump. Not only is the Presidency an office that inspires plenty of controversy, adding a huge and controversial personality to it can make the focus on it increase exponentially.
At the end of the day though, it is hard to disagree that his time in office has led to huge changes in our society.