Unthinkable to many, inevitable to him. Donald”s Trump’s rise to the pinnacle of global power was, among other things, a testament to his supreme self-belief.
Armed with an inherited fortune, Trump put himself front and centre of his various business ventures; as a property developer, hotel tycoon and game show host – a ‘billionaire brand’ that Trump saw as a recipe for success in politics. He entered the fray against an array of Republican rivals who at first ridiculed his presidential ambitions, but soon found the public felt otherwise.
His simple message resonates with conservative voters:
“We will make America great again”
The new president immediately set out to fulfill campaign promises, launching his border wall project and ordering an entry ban on Muslims from some countries.
An improving economy also boosted his standing. Trump put it down to his sweeping tax cuts, a claim disputed by Democrats.
The debutant leader continued to be tainted by suspicions about Russian influence on the election. His response to a US intelligence assessment that the Kremlin had interfered, shocked many.
“They think it is Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it is not Russia. I will say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
Trump’s popularity ratings remained stubbornly low. A reality reflected in Republicans losing control of the lower chamber in mid-term elections.
It meant his political agenda was now constrained by a new generation of progressive Democrat enemies.
The power shift also paved the way for impeachment proceedings. The House found he’d abused his office to target a political opponent. But it was an ultimately futile vote, as the Republican-dominated Senate was always going to acquit him.
Amid the impeachment furore another storm was gathering.
The invisible opponent
A trickle of Covid cases soon became a torrent, presenting Trump with the greatest challenge of his presidency.
His quixotic approach to the pandemic failed to stem the tide, the president himself eventually, paying the price for a casual attitude to precautionary measures.
Adding to one crisis, another of equal magnitude. The fury over the killing of George Floyd spread across the nation, tapping into deep-lying feelings of injustice and racial inequality.
As the riots intensified, Trump cast the problem as one of law and order, an election gambit intended to mobilise his base support.
It was a strategy that worked in his first tilt at the presidency and, despite what the polls were saying, he saw no reason to change course.