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Trump unpicks Obama legacy because he lacks ability to forge his own

Donald Trump's first year as president has seen him roll-back much of Barack Obama's policies.

Donald Trump is setting out on a personal mission to unpick Barack Obama’s legacy because he lacks the vision and political skill to forge his own, according to the University of Sussex’s head of American Studies.

Dr Doug Haynes, director of the Sussex Centre for American Studies, said President Trump was looking for easy victories in trying to revoke key legislation from his predecessor’s eight years in office because trying to establish the building blocks of his own legacy is proving far more difficult.

He said: “Trump can’t get anything legislatively done so he’s going for what he can get, he’s going for low hanging fruit. He’s being destructive because he can’t organise the creative push necessary for new legislation or has no vision for it.”

Dr Haynes was speaking during the recording of the latest episode of the Trump Watch Sussex podcast released this week, which brings together top academics as well as students and campaigners to provide new insight into the most talked about president in US history.

Discussing the "De-Obamification" of American social policies by the Trump administration with Dr Haynes on the podcast is Dr Clodagh Harrington, senior lecturer in politics at De Montfort University, and Dr Alex Waddan, associate professor in American politics and American foreign policy at the University of Leicester.

The episode, available now on iTunes, outlines how Trump has sought to roll back key Obama policies in relation to Iran, health care, climate change, reproductive rights, transgender rights and immigration at the same time as having failed to deliver any substantial legislative change himself in the year since his shock election victory. 

Dr Harrington said: “Trump is quite specifically looking to undo various aspects of the Obama legacy. And that seems to be a personalised approach. It is not necessarily replacing what is there with something that is better or other, it’s more about undoing it.”

Dr Wadden said: “Trump seems to be extraordinarily motivated by undoing Obama. All presidents who succeed a president of the opposite party are highly likely to campaign against previous incumbents of the White House but Trump seems to have taken it to a different level. Not having too much of a positive agenda of his own but mostly thinking in terms of rolling back what has happened during the Obama years.”

He added Trump has no clear idea of what he wants to get done as president and warned that without a grasp of detail, Trump could not offer the required leadership and could be doomed to repeat his “dismal” first year which seems set to be completed without any substantial legislative success.

The Trump Watch Sussex podcast was launched this summer and is available on iTunes. To listen to the latest podcasts visit or


By: Neil Vowles
Last updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2017