Donald Trump’s first year in office delivered an array of important achievements: confirmation of conservative judges, including Neil Gorsuch; more support for oil pipelines and oil drilling; dramatic progress against ISIS; deregulation and enhanced border security; the end of meddlesome net neutrality; the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; and, most importantly, sweeping tax cuts and a new pro-business approach. What’s striking about these accomplishments isn’t how extraordinary they are but how normal: how consistent with well-established Republican goals and values. It’s easy to imagine that much the same policies might have been pursued by President Trump’s primary rivals—or by Mitt Romney, the last GOP nominee.
The two initiatives that caused most substantial disagreement with many conventional conservatives—canceling the Trans Pacific Partnership and unilaterally leaving the Paris accords—hardly defined Trump’s presidency or brought about the calamitous results his critics feared. At year’s end, President Trump found historic success not as a radical outsider but as a sensible, determined, mainstream Republican.