Like many people I followed the US elections with great interest because of Trump. Checking the news everyday to see what outlandish nonsense he was spouting this time. Like many others the chances of him actually winning seemed small, even with a very unpopular opponent.
So like many people I was surprised and disoriented by his narrow win.
Now I find I am checking the news regularly to see what egregious actions he and his administration are taking. Each new announcement and revelation just increases the anticipation for the next episode like some addictive soap opera.
But that risks missing the deeper trends for the passing show.
As the 100 day marker approached various framings, positive and negative have emerged of this Trump presidency. The president, and both legislative houses, claim they are waging a ‘war on regulation’. Opponents and a lot of the scientific community claim he is waging a ‘war on science’. Otters claim science is just collateral damage. The real target is left wing regulation that throttles wealth creation, it is just that some science gets co-opted by ideological interests into justifying their socialist dogma.
The Trump administration might be taken as an extant example of an advocate of deregulation, free markets and small government political ideology. A central plank of his public performance has been the vow to eliminate all the red tape and legislation that throttles business and job creation in the US.
After 100 days the tradition is to audit what a new president has achieved and mark it against their manifesto and subsequent actions.
Trump can point to a large number of regulations he has removed. However this has all been done by executive order as even with GOP majorities in both parts of the legislative branch of government, no laws have been passed by the conventional route.
Many of the regulations Trump has removed are the regulations Obama put in place by executive orders because the legislative branch was similarly immobilised by partisan fractionation.
So the clean water regulations, prohibition of offshore drilling, designation of public land and its protection from resource exploitation are all elements of the regulatory impositions of the Obama administration that Trump is successfully removing. Apparently good evidence for his anti regulatory credentials.
But there is another side. He has tried and failed twice to impose regulations to limit visitors with an Islamic cultural background. Framing it as security precautions against certain Nations does not look convincing.
He has also tried to impose the regulation of immigration internally by attempting to remove central government funding from local jurisdictions that fail to inform federal law enforcement of possible illegal immigrants. The Judicial branch has rejected that as overreach.
A precedent already exists that it is NOT constitutional to impose on local law enforcement either a requirement to check federal information about any legal interest they may have in a person detained. Or to require law enforcement to provide information to federal law bodies that attempt to obtain it.
That ban was decided around the issue of gun ownership rights. The federal government cannot compel local law enforcement into cooperating with federal gun control laws.