Editor's Note: This is part 2 of a two part-article. Find part 1 at this link.
Part 1 introduced the idea that President Donald Trump has received nonstop criticism in the press, and that it's time to recognize some of the good things he has done. The remaining 15 of 30 items follow.
16. Persuading European nations to pay more for NATO: President Trump has insisted that NATO countries start to pay their fair share of defense costs, and some NATO countries have responded by increasing their defense budgets. In 2017, five countries met the goal of spending 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense and that has now increased to nine according to the alliance's latest budgetary data. The U.S. is set to spend over $750 billion (3.7% of GDP) on its military this year and leads the "above 2%" group, which now includes Bulgaria (3.25%), Greece (2.28%), the United Kingdom (2.14%), Estonia (2.14%), Romania (2.04%), Lithuania (2.03%), Latvia (2.01%) and Poland (2%).
17. Protections against false accusation on college campuses: President Trump's administration has restored many due process guidelines that universities must follow in processing title IX accusations of sexual assault on university campuses.
18. Protecting freedom of speech on college campuses: President Trump issued an executive order giving more specific protections to freedom of speech on college campuses by threatening the loss of federal research dollars if they do not allow for free speech for all students and faculty members. On many campuses, conservative and religious students and faculty members have had their views censored or have faced retribution for expressing conservative or faith-based views
19. Protecting boys' and girls' bathrooms, locker rooms and sports teams: On Feb. 22, 2017, President Trump directed the Department of Education to revoke the Obama administration's guidance letter that had directed schools to allow children who claim to be "transgender" to use the bathrooms, locker rooms and showers of their choice and to join sports teams of their choice, even when their choices differed from their biological sex.
In a related decision President Trump issued an executive order banning transgender persons from entering our military forces, which would have allowed biological males free access to women's bathrooms, locker rooms and showers, and similarly allowed biological females to enter men's facilities. President Trump's order was upheld by the Supreme Court, which lifted the block on the order by a 5-4 vote. While litigation will continue, the order stands for now.
20. Negotiating new trade agreements that are more favorable to the United States: President Trump has negotiated new trade agreements with Mexico, Canada and China, and all of them give more favorable treatment to the United States than the previous treaties did.
21. Streamlining environmental reviews for major construction projects: In order to build a new section of highway, a new subway line or a new gas pipeline, the necessary environmental impact statements have recently taken an average of 4.5 years, and many ran for six years or longer. These delays massively increased construction costs and delayed relief for over-congested highways for many years. But on July 15, 2020, President Trump's White House released new guidelines limiting environmental impact studies to two years and limiting less extensive environmental assessments to one year. The Wall Street Journal says these new rules "could literally cut thousands of years of cumulative delay" for construction projects. This will be a huge help in renewing America's aging infrastructure.
22. Sending weapons to Ukraine: Whereas President Obama sent only humanitarian aid, President Trump authorized the selling of actual military equipment to Ukraine, including Javelin missiles, which were necessary to defend against Russian aggression.
23. Standing up to China and Russia: Trump has been the first president to decisively denounce China's blatant practice of industrial espionage and bullying, stealing of intellectual property and violating international copyright protections. He has followed up with strong trade sanctions against China, an increased U.S. naval presence in the South China Sea and the closing of the Chinese consulate in Houston, which was a center of Chinese espionage. The Trump administration has closed several Russian consulates in the US and expelled over 60 Russian "diplomats" (espionage agents), issued sanctions against several Russian officials and persuaded several European nations to increase their defenses against potential Russian invasion.
24. Withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal: President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan for Action, which would have allowed Iran to build a nuclear bomb within the next few years.
25. A wise COVID-19 response: President Trump imposed strict restrictions on travel from China on Jan. 31, 2020, long before other leaders recognized the danger of this coronavirus. Then, when the COVID-19 virus began to spread rapidly within the United States, the dominant media narrative was a fear that we would run out of hospital beds to care for the sick. President Trump immediately mobilized the military to construct huge new hospital facilities in New York City and elsewhere, and soon there were enough beds. The next fear was that we would run out of ventilators. President Trump persuaded leaders of American industry to fast-track the manufacture of ventilators, and soon there were enough ventilators. Then the question was how soon to reopen buildings and meeting places, and President Trump wisely left the decision to local governors and other local officials who best know the different situations in their individual locations.
Finally, the FDA has fast-tracked the trial and approval process for a vaccine, and the federal government has made commitments to purchase millions of vaccines from various companies as soon as they are approved for widespread use. Several promising vaccines are now in the advanced stages of testing on human subjects. The previous record for rapid FDA approval of a new vaccine was four years from initial research to final approval, but under President Trump's leadership, experts are now optimistically predicting that an FDA-approved coronavirus vaccine will be available as early as October 2020, which would be nine months from the time the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China, became known.
In addition, President Trump, working with Congress, quickly passed three coronavirus relief packages, with the result that millions of Americans continued to receive pay in spite of their workplaces being temporarily closed.
Unfortunately, many Democrats have decided to make the coronavirus tragedy a political issue, repeatedly criticizing President Trump's response. With the benefit of hindsight, Monday morning quarterbacks can always claim they would have made better decisions in Sunday afternoon's game, but they didn't have to make instant decisions in the midst of the contest.
We need to recognize that President Trump, in dealing with the coronavirus crisis, has repeatedly had to make hard decisions in a situation where he had incomplete information and conflicting advice from different scientific, medical, economic and educational experts. Others may disagree, but it seems to me that in a very difficult situation, he has done a commendable job of balancing the need to protect Americans' health, the need to avoid destroying our economy, the need to protect businesses from bankruptcy and the need to get children back to school so that they will not be deprived of many crucial months in their education.
26. Reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs: On June 23, 2017, President Trump signed the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which gave the secretary of Veterans Affairs streamlined authority to fire unproductive employees and to appoint new medical directors at VA hospitals. But even before that law, the Trump administration had begun to clean house, and over 500 employees were fired from the Veterans Administration in the first six months of Trump's presidency.
27. Criminal justice reform: President Trump signed the First Step Act on Dec. 21, 2018.This law gives judges more flexibility in reducing mandatory sentencing guidelines in individual cases, eliminates the "three strikes" requirement of life imprisonment for some offenses, improves opportunities for academic and vocational education within prisons, provides more support for the successful reentry of released prisoners into society and requires prisoners to be placed in prisons near their place of primary residence where possible
28. Reducing prescription drug prices: On July 24, 2000, President Trump signed four executive orders aimed at reducing prescription drug prices. These included requiring federal health centers to make insulin and epinephrine available at massive discounts to low income persons, prohibiting secret deals between drug manufacturers and pharmacy "benefit manager" middlemen, ensuring patients directly benefit from available discounts at the pharmacy counter, allowing more importation of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries where prices are lower and reducing prices for Medicare Part B drugs if they are available for lower prices in other economically advanced countries.
I personally doubt the wisdom of using price controls instead of fostering greater competition to reduce drug prices, but I'm still listing this as a good action because it may be a useful first step in providing a signal that Republicans are serious about solving the real problem of expensive drugs that many people cannot afford.
29. Protecting federal property from rioters: The movement that began as peaceful and well-justified protests against the murder of George Floyd was soon co-opted by the presence of lawless rioters whose goal was destruction of property by looting and arson that began in Minneapolis and soon spread to Seattle, Portland, Chicago, New York and other cities. In contrast to the weak Democratic mayors and governors who adopted a policy of appeasement that only encouraged more violence and even resulted in the burning of a police station in Minneapolis, President Trump announced in Washington, D.C., that any destruction of federal statues and monuments would result in fines up to $10,000, and suddenly the attacks on these statues came to an abrupt halt. When rioters threatened to destroy the U.S. courthouse in Portland, and the governor and the mayor were not protecting this federal property, President Trump sent in federal officers learn to protect it, which they did. The courthouse was not destroyed ,and the slightly over 100 U.S. marshals and DHS officers inside the building were protected until eventually the mayor of Portland sent local and state police to protect the building.
According to the 1807 Insurrection Act, the president has the legal authority to take any measures (including deploying federal troops or other law enforcement officials) necessary to suppress any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination or conspiracy, even without an invitation or permission from the governor of the state in which that federal property is located. An example of this happened in 1957 when President Dwight Eisenhower sent federal troops into Arkansas, over the objections of Governor Orval Faubus, to enforce federal school desegregation orders and protect African American schoolchildren from a mob that had gathered to stop them outside Central High School in Little Rock.
In a further response to the violence threatening many of our cities, President Trump's Department of Justice has now launched Operation Legend, in which over 1000 additional federal agents have been dispatched to work alongside local law enforcement officers in nine cities to apprehend the most violent instigators of these riots. They have now located and arrested 1485 suspects for violent crimes, including 90 homicides.
30. Welcoming evangelical Christians into positions of influence: This may not be important to others, but speaking as an evangelical Christian, I see it as a positive factor that, rather than marginalizing evangelical Christians (as was the practice of the Obama administration), President Trump has appointed a remarkably large number of evangelicals to high government offices. These include Vice President Mike Pence, Ben Carson (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development), Betsy DeVos (Secretary of Education), Rick Perry (former secretary of energy), Scott Pruitt (former administrator of Environmental Protection Agency), Dan Coats (former director of national intelligence), Mike Pompeo (Secretary of State), Russ Vought (Director of Office of Management and Budget) and Kayleigh McEnany (White House press secretary), and others.
In addition, he has frequently welcomed evangelical pastors and other leaders to the White House, for both public and private conversations.
The context: refusing to waver in the face of the most biased reporting in American history. These 30 good actions have all been accomplished in spite of a remarkably hostile national media. The Media Research Center analyzed all the evaluative statements made by reporters, anchors and nonpartisan sources (such as experts or voters but not people identified as Democrats or Republicans) during June and July of 2020 on World News Tonight (ABC), Evening News (CBS) and NBC Nightly News (NBC). They counted 34 positive evaluative statements made about President Trump and 634 negative statements during those two months. By contrast, there were eight positive statements and four negative evaluative statements about Biden during the same time period. (Biden had become the presumptive Democratic nominee on April 8 when Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign.)
These numbers indicate that, for every time that viewers heard a negative evaluation of Biden, they heard 158 negative evaluations of Trump. For every positive statement they heard about Trump, they heard 18 negative statements. This is not balanced reporting, nor is it responsible journalism. Someone may object that the Media Research Center is a politically conservative content analysis organization, but that does not invalidate their tabulations, which I suspect would be consistent with the perceptions of any viewers who watch these newscasts for a few days. A similar kind of bias could also be seen on CNN or MSNBC.
Research director Rich Noyes at the Media Research Center was quoted as saying, "I have been studying the news media and elections for more than 35 years. Trust me—there has never been anything like it." He called this "the most biased presidential campaign coverage in modern media history."
I point out this media bias in order to observe that President Trump's unwavering commitment to common-sense conservative political policies is remarkable. Few human beings would have the courage and strength of character to persist in the face of such overwhelmingly hostile mainstream news coverage. And he has not done this while avoiding the press but has held 17 solo press conferences and 44 joint press conferences in 3.5 years (as of July 20) plus numerous less formal interchanges with the press when he leaves or returns to the White House by helicopter.
In addition, he has done all this while enduring 3.5 years of "resistance" by a massive special counsel investigation (that came to nothing), impeachment by the House (that came to nothing) and numerous nationwide injunctions against his executive orders issued by individual U.S. District Court judges. In this context, Trump's resolute pursuit of the policies on which he campaigned seems to me to be commendable.
Divine blessing or divine judgment? Speaking as an evangelical Christian, I believe that God exercises providential control over the history of nations. The Old Testament says, "The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men" (Dan. 4:17, ESV). Similarly, the New Testament says, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God" (Rom. 13:1).
But that doesn't mean that all rulers are good. Sometimes God gives a nation oppressive rulers as a means of divine judgment, as when he led Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, to carry off the Jewish people into exile (2 Kings 24:10-25:21). At other times he gives leaders who will bring blessing to a nation, as when God led Cyrus, king of Persia, to decree that the Jewish people could return to their homeland (Ezra 1:1-4).
So here is a question for my fellow Christians: If you believe (as I do) that God is sovereign over the affairs of nations, do you think that Donald Trump's presidency has been an evidence of divine blessing or divine judgment? I admit that perceiving divine purposes in human events is a task that cannot be proved with certainty one way or another, but when I look over this list of 30 actions, it appears to me to be far more characteristic of divine blessing than of divine judgment. If others disagree, I respect your right to have a different opinion, but that is my view.
Conclusion: If President Trump is reelected (as I hope he will be), we can expect four more years of the same type of White House activity—more originalist judges, ongoing lower taxes and deregulation, continuing funding for a stronger military, further restrictions on abortion, more school choice, continued support for Israel, hundreds of additional miles of border wall, a humane and just solution to immigration, continuing protection of religious freedom and freedom of conscience, abundant safe energy production, continued protection against Islamic terrorism, a stronger NATO alliance, more free speech protections on college campuses, continued protection of separate boys and girls sports teams and locker rooms, more trade agreements that are fair to the US, accelerated renewal of our aging infrastructure, unflinching resistance to Russian and Chinese aggressiveness, continued isolation of Iran and multilateral containment of their hostile expansionist ambitions, normalization of relations between Israel and other Arab nations and further solutions to the problem of high drug prices.
No doubt more beneficial actions could be added to this list, but these should be enough to justify another four good years with Donald Trump as president.
Wayne Grudem is a distinguished research professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona. The views expressed in this article represent the views of the author and should not be understood to represent the position of Phoenix Seminary.
This article originally appeared attownhall.com.
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