What will be President Donald Trump’s lasting legacy?

John Balentine, a former managing editor for the Lakes Region Weekly, lives in Windham.

Long after the dust settles on his four years as president, how will historians view his term in office?

Honest, non-partisan reflection will likely note it with one word: complex.

But while we wait for history’s permanent verdict on Trump, how should we Americans who lived through his tumultuous term view the soon-to-be-former POTUS?

The immediate lesson from Trump’s presidency is the idea that successful leadership requires a combination of beneficial policies and a beneficent personality. You need both to lead effectively.

Trump presented policies that made the country better, but he didn’t have the personality that engendered respect from his adversaries.

He enjoyed unwavering support from those who agreed with his policies (aka Always Trumpers), but because he lacked a respectable persona, he couldn’t win converts to his cause. And he even had trouble with those espousing similarly conservative political philosophies (aka Never Trumpers).

He was no Ronald Reagan, in other words. Even Reagan’s policy adversaries were won over by his others-focused personality. That made Reagan a great president.

Love Trump or hate him – and after last week’s menacing destruction by pro-Trump rioters at the U.S. Capitol many hate him even more – Americans tend to admire any politician who makes America greater. It’s in this arena that Trump had his greatest impact. What he lacked in persona, he made up for in policy. And even anti-Trumpers benefited from his policy wins.

As Trump exits office Jan. 20 amid more chaos, let’s end it positively by recounting some of the good Trump did for all of us. Despite his ego-driven personality and last week’s epic failures, he had his good points and was the right man for the post-Obama world:

• Trump’s pro-business economic policies, regulatory overhauls and across-the-board tax cuts lifted the economy to new heights.

• Trump picked three Constitution-subscribing, originalist Supreme Court justices and hundreds of similarly conservative lower court judges.

• Trump oversaw Operation Warp Speed, which brought to market three COVID-19 vaccines within a year of the coronavirus’s outward spread from Wuhan, China. Just as impressive was Trump’s storm-weathering determination, which lifted the morale of pandemic-panicked Americans.

• Trump improved minority employment to historic records pre-pandemic.

• Trump made strides toward Middle East peace via four normalization treaties between Israel and its neighbors Morocco, Sudan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

• Trump tamed “Little Rocket Man” Kim Jong-un. Trump’s detractors criticized his taunts and tweets, but we’ve since enjoyed calm relations with the North Korean dictator and owe it to Trump’s “fire and fury” rhetoric.

• Trump brought enhanced border security, fought illegal immigration and erected a more effective border wall.

• Trump took on the Chinese Communist Party. He bravely played chicken with China on trade and made gains for American companies and their intellectual property.

• Trump took back ISIS’s land holdings and killed their maniacal leader.

• Trump removed the oppressive Obamacare provision that forced those not wanting health care coverage to pay a sizable penalty. That was welcome relief for many poorer Americans.

• Trump rewrote NAFTA and extricated us from the Paris Climate Accords and Iran nuclear treaty, which was a joke because it merely delayed Iran’s development of weapons-grade nuclear materials.

All in all, Trump did his best for the country, just as I assume Joe Biden will do his best over the next four years. No one is all good and no one is all bad. It’s good to remember this as we end one era and enter another.

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