Fellows | 10 May 2017

What Will Future Historians Say About President Trump's First 100 Days? Here Are 11 Guesses


By TIME Staff


As President Donald Trump approached his 100th day in office, TIME History asked a variety of experts to weigh in on a single question: What will historians of the future say about President Trump’s first 100 days?

Despite acknowledging that the question is impossible to answer with any certainty, they drew on the lessons of the past to hazard a guess as to which of Trump’s actions thus far will make it into the history books — and how they will be interpreted with the added perspective of hindsight. Below is a selection of the answers they submitted by phone and by email.


Alice S. Yang, associate professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and co-director of the Center for the Study of Pacific War Memories:

Historians will note that his administration had a troubled beginning, promoting falsehoods as “alternative facts,” equating criticism with “fake news,” deflecting questions about his campaign’s ties with Russia by leveling unsubstantiated charges of Obama wiretapping, and failing to replace the Affordable Care Act.

I suspect, however, that historians will focus in particular on his Executive Order to suspend immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. While Muslims were not explicitly named, many legal experts and historians quickly denounced the alarming parallels between the targeting of Muslim refugees as “foreign terrorists” and FDR’s Executive Order 9066, which led to the mass removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. In 1942, only a few rogue ACLU lawyers, Quakers and socialists protested. In start contrast, 75 years later, acting Attorney General Sally Yates refused to enforce the travel ban, federal judges blocked the order and, most importantly, large public groups rallied to defend Muslim refugees, calling for the defense of constitutional guarantees of equal protection and religious freedom.

Historians will have to assess whether these mass demonstrations — along with the contentious town halls, women’s marches, protests to defend science and prevent global warming, and grassroots campaigns for local political offices — have signaled a new coalition of outraged progressives and previously apathetic or alienated individuals to fight for social justice and real political change. During Trump’s first 100 days, it appears there are more checks and balances on presidential power in 2017 than there were in 1942.

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