2017 began with events generally considered unthinkable in early 2016 as President Donald Trump was inaugurated, the Patriots recovered from a twenty-five-point deficit late in the Super Bowl, and Mitch McConnell’s successful ten-month blockade of Merrick Garland’s nomination resulted in the confirmation of a conservative to the Supreme Court.
The rest of the year did not disappoint as U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley took steps to reestablish America’s position in the U.N. and President Trump embraced a more traditional Republican foreign policy agenda than suggested by his campaign. Ambassador Haley successfully persuaded the entire U.N. Security Council to unite against North Korea as President Trump repeatedly met with President Xi of China to isolate an increasingly belligerent Kim Jong Un. President Trump used his U.N. speech to condemn Russia, Iran, Assad, and Hezbollah while promoting a foreign policy of “principled realism”. Both Ambassador Haley and President Trump made clear that the United States will demand more from aid recipients, especially at the U.N., while cutting funding to the UN and reducing America’s overall participation.
The Trump Administration also stepped up pressure on the Assad Regime, including destroying a Syrian air base, calling for Assad’s removal, and repeatedly destroying Assad-allied aircraft, convoys, drones, and militias. At the same time, America’s cooperation with the Kurdish-dominated SDF, the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq, and the Iraqi Government resulted in the liberation of Mosul, Raqqa, and the vast majority of territory controlled by the Islamic State. Trump has also attacked the Islamic State in Afghanistan, from the famous use of the MOAB on militants to the decision to send additional troops to the country.
With control of the White House and both houses of Congress, Republicans failed to achieve many priorities, as many pieces of legislation passed the House but died in the Senate. House Speaker Paul Ryan ultimately succeeded in passing legislation to cut income and corporate taxes while eliminating Obamacare’s individual mandate.
President Trump reversed many executive orders from the Obama Administration while passing executive orders to protect religious liberty, and like President George W. Bush restored the Mexico City Policy banning foreign funding of abortions. Trump also decided to finally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, clearing the way for United States Embassy in Israel to be moved there.
While Democrats were repeatedly defeated in Congressional Races in Kansas, Georgia, and Montana, they captured governor’s mansions in Virginia and New Jersey, while accusations of statutory rape and sexual assault doomed Roy Moore’s candidacy in Alabama, delivering a United States Senate seat to Doug Jones (D-AL).
This followed the exposure of countless members of the entertainment industry, politicians, and members of the media for similar offenses, as many new or longstanding allegations received a more sympathetic hearing.
Events at the University of California Berkeley, Charlottesville, the University of Auburn, and elsewhere, revealed the radicalization of many college students, who joined radical groups such as Antifa and the alt-right, occasionally resorting to violence against each other. While Republicans from Donald Trump to Paul Ryan to Ben Sasse to the organizers of CPAC condemned the alt-right, Nancy Pelosi was one of only a few Democrats to condemn Antifa. Antifa shut down several conservative events, while a speech by Ben Shapiro at Berkeley required a heavy police presence.
Also in California, the drought resulted in more severe wildfires, causing massive damage. Illegal border crossings were way down, as the Trump Administration targeted incentives for illegal immigration and promised stricter enforcement. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose quickly from 19,881.75 on January 3rd, 2017 to 24,837.51 by December 28th, 2017.
Near the end of this year of surprises, President Trump, accused of collaboration with Russia and indifference towards our allies targeted by Putin, approved the sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine, a decision President Obama had refused to make. As Trump offers his support to anti-government demonstrators in Iran and the Obama Administration comes under fire for tolerating Hezbollah drug activity to protect the JCPOA or Iran Deal, 2017 has shattered the predictions of countless foreign policy experts, politicians, and members of the media.