It has been a mere few weeks since Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s stunning upset victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, and the newly-minted President-elect is already tasked with addressing a myriad of broken campaign promises. The anti-establishment and outspoken politician made history on multiple fronts, becoming the oldest person to be elected president and the only president to have never held a prior political position or military services. But while countless polls and predictions gave his rival the upper hand, and Trump’s bid for the presidency was marred with a seemingly endless wave of controversies, it seems as though a silent, but unshakably loyal following of supporters carried him to the White House. It is that large audience of voters, who were fed promises of repealing the Affordable Care Act and the creation of a wall along the Mexican border during the campaign trail, that Trump must now answer to as he walks back on these commitments.
Throughout his 2016 run, Trump frequently slammed President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and claimed he would “repeal it and replace it with something absolutely much less expensive” at the second presidential debate last month. However, in his first public interview since clinching an electoral plurality, the President-Elect struck a more compromising tune, telling Barbara Walters of “Sixty Minutes” he was open to keeping certain aspects of the legislation, specifically the continuation of coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Trump’s sudden hesitation to completely scrap Obamacare is a harsh turnaround from referring to it as a “disaster,” one of his favorite words for describing the A.C.A. along the campaign trail. Similarly, the towering wall the Republican candidate vowed to build with steel and concrete on the American-Mexican border is noticeably absent from his first official promises. In the same “Sixty Minutes” interview, Trump first claimed he was willing to settle for fencing in some areas of the nearly 2,000 mile long border. Then, in an official video released by the transition team earlier this Monday detailing the Trump Administration’s first executive orders, the notorious wall was left out entirely. In its place was an outline of five initiatives that appear to cast the President-elect as a more moderate, center-right politician. Among the other omitted campaign assents was the temporary ban on Muslim immigrants, which was also deleted from Trump’s official campaign website earlier last week, and the termination of the U.S.’s Syrian refugee acceptance program. And an unprecedented claim to hire a special prosecutor for the purpose of reexamining and potentially imprisoning Secretary Clinton for her use of a private email server has also seemed to disappear, with Trump citing a warm phone call he received from his opponent on the eve of the election as the reason for his change of heart: “I don’t want to hurt [the Clintons]. They’re good people.”
Sudden flip-flopping doesn’t strictly apply to Trump’s campaign pledges: there are a number of statements Trump made before his entry into politics that are now being contrasted by the soon-to-be Commander-in-Chief. In 2007, when construction for the Trump Tower in Tampa, Florida, failed to begin due to the economic collapse of the real estate market, the entrepreneur sued the developers for unlicensed use of the Trump name. He later remarked in a press conference that he would carry out the lawsuit and refuse a settlement of any kind, stating, “If you settle suits, you get sued more. I take it all the way. I never settle.” The aggressive remarks are surfacing in the wake of Trump’s agreement to a $25 million settlement in his Trump University lawsuit, prioritizing his focus on the presidency over going through with the legal battle. And many have scrolled deep into The Donald’s Twitter account, finding tweets made in the aftermath of the 2012 election in which he criticized the Electoral College as unconstitutional and called for its abolition. His recent praise of the college is as much a flip-flop as it is ironic, considering the system he once demeaned has handed him the election, despite Clinton’s impressive 1.7 million lead in the popular vote.
Historically, presidents have a tendency to pivot to the center of the political spectrum in an effort to reach out to those who voted against them. The withdrawal from strong left or right positions is essentially a part of the peaceful transition of power, as the country begins to heal itself and recognize that, at the end of day, every American is fighting on the same team. But, like so many other aspects of this election, Trump’s reversals on so policies and statements made before and during his career as a politician remains unprecedented. To repudiate a plethora of commitments made on the road to the White House, including many that comprised the core of his presidential platform and galvanized his supporters, is a betrayal to the voters that secured Trump the electoral majority. It makes a Trump presidency and administration appear dishonest and unfaithful, something the President-Elect cannot afford, considering the uncertainty that will follow him into the Oval Office after significantly losing the popular vote. However, supporters and critics alike should stay as open-minded as they can with the prospects of President Donald Trump, considering he has an entire four years to deliver on his campaign’s foremost promise: making the country great again.