President Trump’s brief tenure in office has been plagued by low approval ratings that are undoubtedly a source of serious frustration for a man who loved nothing more than to tout his positive poll numbers on the campaign trail.
But as interesting a story as those numbers tell — they are one of many ways this presidency is “historic” for all the wrong reasons — why so many Americans disapprove of Trump is at least as important as the fact that they do so.
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Is voter animosity toward the president about his personal failings? Are people unhappy because of Trump’s long insistence on demonstrating his poor character in public? Are they upset about his policies? Or is there something else in play?
A new Quinnipiac poll suggests there might be something else. U.S. News reports:
Fifty-four percent of voters say Trump is abusing the powers of his office, according to the latest survey by Quinnipiac. […] “President Donald Trump remains mired in dreadful mid-30s approval numbers and the red flags that are popping up tell an even darker story,” Tim Malloy, the poll’s assistant director, told reporters. “But by far the most alarming determination is that President Trump is abusing his office.”
Now, of course we have to keep in mind how much this assessment is influenced by simple partisanship: That 54 percent almost certainly includes a majority of Democrats, who would be likely to critique any Republican president (just as Republicans would be likely to critique any Democrat).
Still, Malloy is right that this number is significant. Most Americans believe the president is abusing the powers of his office, and they’re absolutely right.
For this insight to have real positive impact on Washington, however, we can’t stop here. Americans need to think bigger than Trump.
The presidency has been way too powerful for a long time. It’s true there is a lot about Trump’s personal character and policy agenda that make his administration historically troubling, but all those factors would be much less dangerous had we a structurally restrained executive branch.
Trump isn’t the first president to abuse his power, and unless a majority of Americans understand that the problem of executive overgrowth is bigger than any one person, he won’t be the last president to abuse his power, either.