With President Donald Trump’s approval rating currently at 41 percent — a historic low for most U.S. presidents at this point in their terms — analysts are scrambling to evaluate his first 100 days in office.
On Tuesday night, the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics hosted a panel discussion to delve further into this issue, debating the successes and failures of Trump’s first 100 days. The panel was moderated by Unruh Institute Director Bob Shrum as well as Danni Wang, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Trojan.
This discussion aimed to seek a millennial perspective. The panelists included Nathaniel Haas, a second-year law student and Huffington Post contributor; Tiffany Hoss, the president of USC College Republicans; Mary Perez, the vice president of USC College Republicans; and Razzan Nakhlawi, the director of the international unit at USC Annenberg Media.
“There was a lot of common ground among the panelists,” said Livey Beha, a junior majoring in NGOs and social change who attended the event. “It gave me a little bit of hope.”
According to Shrum, Democrats are dealing with a lot of anger at the grassroots level. However, Haas put forward the idea that although the disagreement over Obamacare and the possibility of tax reforms formed a clear divide between the two parties, they might be able to agree on the improvement of infrastructure.
When asked about the lack of backing from the Democratic party, Hoss stated that Trump would need to reach across the aisle and use his negotiation abilities to win their support. Nakhlawi argued that Trump was currently facing a disapproval rate of 53 percent in the United States, a percentage which is drastically higher than that of previous years.
“He’s digging a hole in terms of where he stands, and he’s having a bit of an identity crisis,” Nakhlawi said.
The panel discussion also focused on Trump’s recent missile strike in Syria that targeted an airfield belonging to the government of President Bashar Assad, largely in response to a chemical weapons attack that occurred last week.. Haas said that the lack of strategy behind this move was troubling, given the extent to which Trump has criticized Obama for taking action in Syria.
“He shouldn’t be tweeting without considering the broader geopolitical implications,” Haas said.
The powerful role played by the media in today’s political climate was another topic of debate among the panel.
“It’s very apparent that Trump is at war with the media,” Wang said.
Nakhwali added that most of the controversy surrounding the media was rooted in confusion due to the extremely high number of information sources available.
Haas also denounced Trump’s attitude towards the media.
“He needs to learn that every story that he doesn’t like about himself is not fake news,” Haas said.
Perez agreed, stating that Trump’s constant stream of twitter posts relating to his image in the media was unprofessional.
“However, both sides are at fault,” Perez argued. “The media needs to understand that they are alienating a certain percentage of Americans.”
In addition, the panelists also discussed their thoughts on the various protests that occurred after Trump was elected in November, particularly on college campuses. According to Hoss, the primary issue lies within the fact that many of the participants in these protests do not actually go out and vote. She said that 67 percent of millennials engage in political discourse online, yet only 18 to 23 percent of them make it to the ballot box.
The panel closed with a discussion on the upcoming midterm elections in 2018. Both Hoss and Perez agreed that things might look bleak for the Republican party, given previous patterns of the President’s political party not winning. However, Hoss believes that under Trump things might be different.
“A new phenomenon has been created and an excitement for the Republican party has started,” Hoss said. “His base is very, very loyal.”