Editor’s Note: This post was written by Hannah Rainka.
Although Dwight D. Eisenhower served as President of the United States over 50 years ago, there is still a lot that current President Trump and his administration can learn from Eisenhower’s tenure in office. One of the most important lessons that Trump can take from the Eisenhower administration is to respect the other branches of government and their actions. When Eisenhower was in office, the historic Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision was given in the Supreme Court. Eisenhower personally did not believe in mandatory integration of all public schools. However, as president, Eisenhower recognized his duty as president to faithfully execute all laws, including Supreme Court decisions. President Trump can take this lesson and apply it to the problems he has been facing with his most recent executive order regarding the travel ban from predominantly Muslim nations. When Trump’s first order was shut down in court, he tried to change some of the language in order to keep it in place. Most recently, the order has been halted by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland. President Trump has stated that he will appeal this decision all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. However, Trump could learn from Eisenhower that it is important to respect the rulings of other branches. Although Trump is challenging a ruling from a lower court and not the Supreme Court, the legislature and judiciary are important branches at all levels. President Trump needs to realize that these branches are in place to prevent him from becoming too powerful, even if power is exactly what he wants. By respecting the actions of the other branches of government, Trump will most likely no longer experience a lot of the resistance and backlash that he has faced recently, which will only allow him to become a more effective president in the long run and focus on other important tasks, like relations with North Korea or Russia.
Another important lesson that Trump can take from the Eisenhower presidency is to recognize that political experience is not the only key to presidential success. Eisenhower did not have any elected political experience before the presidency, and Trump did not either. However, Eisenhower had his military leadership experience, and Trump has his leadership experience as a business executive. While military experience has become a more widely recognized stepping stone to the presidency, political experience is still the most prominent, especially among the most successful presidents. However, Eisenhower was most recently ranked the fifth best president of all time. Trump can take this lesson from the Eisenhower administration and interpret it to mean that he, as a businessman, can still be successful in his presidential endeavors, and look to Eisenhower for motivation for this possible success when morale among the administration is low. It is possible that Trump can take this lesson from the Eisenhower administration and influence the presidency to include business executives in the list of the previous jobs of successful presidents as well. Even with his lack of experience and the backlash he has faced since taking office, it is still possible for President Trump to find success. If President Trump were to implement some of the lessons from the Eisenhower administration, it is possible that he would not have as much trouble implementing his legislative agenda and receiving higher approval ratings.
Information in this post about President Eisenhower was taken from “Dwight D. Eisenhower: The American Presidents Series: The 34th President, 1953-1961” by Tom Wicker.