Donald Trump May Be a 'Disrupter' President but in Two Years He's Done Little That Can't Be Undone, Experts Say

In 2016, real estate mogul Donald Trump won over the electorate by pledging to be America's "best" deal-making president. But now, two years into his administration, historians say Trump has largely failed to make good on that promise and cement an impactful legacy.

As one expert put it, Trump's actions so far have not been the kind that "usually gets a president etched into Mount Rushmore."

But to hear Trump tell it, he has already accomplished more than any other White House in history. Under his leadership the economy is the "greatest ever" and America is "stronger, safer and richer" than before. He routinely boasts that he has has been the toughest president to date on Russia and that he's more popular than past leaders, including Abraham Lincoln.

"Nobody's ever done a better job than I'm doing as president," Trump told veteran journalist Bob Woodward in September. "That's the way a lot of people feel that know what's going on, and you'll see that over the years."

Trump is certainly leaving his mark on particular issues. His Tax Cut and Jobs Act that overhauled the tax code passed through Congress and is now in effect. He has also made a lasting impression on the judiciary system, with two Supreme Court appointments and dozens of federal judge nominations. In fact, Trump is outpacing the last five presidents in terms of making judicial appointments. Plus, the nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and assault, gave the high court it's first conservative majority in half a century.

To top it all off, his bombastic leadership style and "America-first" approach clearly separate Trump from many of his predecessors.

John Brabender, a Republican strategist who served as an adviser on Rick Santorum's presidential campaign, told Newsweek that Trump will be remembered as a "disrupter."

"Disruption is the key word and that is very similar to how he managed all of his businesses. It's a style and a process for him, it can oftentimes work and it can oftentimes be a problem," Brabender said. "I don't think there will ever be another Donald Trump in the White House and his style will never be duplicated."

Yet, Trump's most notable policy actions have been unilateral in scope. Executive orders like the travel ban or the decision to leave the Paris climate agreement have been among the most highlighted aspects of his presidency. Trump has rolled back over a dozen environmental regulations set into motion by former President Barack Obama, but his successor is likely to do the same. Climate change has already become a leading issue for presidential candidates in 2020, with billionaire megadonor Michael Bloomberg saying that he'll insist Democrats running for office have detailed climate change plans.

And so, to the dismay of his supporters and the delight of his opponents, much of what Trump has accomplished in the White House can be reversed under the next commander-in-chief.

"As it is now, all of these policies are policies that can be easily undone―which is not the hallmark of a strong presidency," Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, told Newsweek.

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President Donald Trump speaks during an interview in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday, May 1, 2017. The two year anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration falls on Sunday, January 20, 2019. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Last year, Rottinghaus conducted a survey of over 170 members of the American Political Science Association's Presidents and Executive Politics section, which concluded that Trump is the worst president ever. As Rottinghaus said, Trump hasn't done enough to be "etched into Mounth Rushmore."

Rottinghaus noted that legislative support and public consensus are the two things that really anchor a president's legacy on certain policies. Right now, Trump doesn't appear to have much of either.

In terms of immigration, Trump has so far failed to secure funding from Congress to build his long-promised border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Plus, shutting down the government over the issue has had a negative effect on the way Americans view the issue of border security. Recent polling indicated that few see the wall as an effective way to combat undocumented immigration, while many blame the White House for the ongoing shutdown (now the longest in history).

"You know it is really odd because I figured this would be a situation where the president could really shine. I mean if he is going to be the deal-maker president he promised, then getting half a wall is better than no wall," Rottinghaus said.

The administration's other long-term policy goals like repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, have also failed even with Republicans controlling all three branches of government. In Trump's first two years in office, Congress voted multiple times to repeal the healthcare law but never managed to pass any legislation. Now, with Democrats regaining a majority in the House of Representatives, it is going to be even harder for President Trump to get laws passed.

Trump's unwillingness to compromise shows that he has chosen to be a "sectarian president," Timothy Naftali, a professor of public service at New York University and former director of the Nixon Presidential Library, told Newsweek. "By which I mean that he has not tried at all to expand his base. There have been moments where he could have expanded his appeal, but each time he made clear that if you didn't agree with him he wasn't going to persuade or accommodate you."

Trump's approach to tragedies like the deadly Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally in 2017 and Hurricane Maria showed him to be unwilling to play the role of healer and peacemaker, Naftali noted. And his rapid firing of top administration officials, a turnover rate that is unprecedented, demonstrates an inability to work with others.

"Some presidents grow in office, the best presidents learn on the job," Naftali added. "This president doubles down when he faces a challenge, even if the information and advice of others would say it's time to shift."