Donald Trump is one of, if not the most, active president-elects in recent history. For better or worse, since November 8th Donald Trump has in many ways already assumed the office of President of the United States. It is common for all president-elects to name their cabinet members, do interviews, buy a pet to bring to the white house, etc. in the days leading to Inauguration Day. However, in keeping with his unconventional style, Trump is redefining what it means to be president-elect.
Since his electoral college victory, Trump has had conversations with important world leaders, has mediated international conflicts, expressed publicly his opinion on foreign governments and even reached out to business leaders in an effort to keep and/or create local jobs. Whether you agree with his politics or not, we must admit that he is tackling many issues that typically wait until after inauguration day.
Remaining true to his campaign rhetoric, Trump continued using social media and public appearances to fire shots at longtime U.S. allies and trade-partners, Mexico and China, saying time and time again that both countries are “ripping off” the U.S. These countries are the largest trading partners of the United States only after Canada, and it’s important to highlight that in 2016, the trade balance with Mexico and China showed a deficit, meaning the U.S. imports more than what we export.
As president-elect, Trump stirred controversy by taking a phone call from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, which sent a strong, not-well received message to Beijing: they’re dealing with a completely different presidency. Additionally, Trump’s tweets have constantly criticized the Chinese government, while giving continuous compliments to Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin, breaking a long tradition of keeping a low-key relation with Russia. Trump’s tweets have been his favorite tool for international communications.
Regarding our southern neighbor, Mexico has been under constant “Trump fire” on issues like immigration and the economy. The now infamous “wall” is yet to be built, but there’s already a strong division between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump’s impending presidency is having a strong impact on the Mexican peso as well as the country’s job growth.
President-elect Trump openly criticized Ford for their intentions to build a $1.6 billion car factory in San Luis Potosi, and to move all small-car production south of the border. Whether or not Trump’s continuous pressure on the issue caused the emblematic U.S. company to announce the cancellation of the plant in Mexico and instead invest $700 million in their Michigan plant is debatable, but the fact that Ford’s Chairman called Trump to let him know of the company's decision is unprecedented, and Trump thanked Ford in his own particular way.
Not yet in the oval office, Trump has met with national leaders like Jeff Bezos of Amazon; Elon Musk of Tesla; Timothy D. Cook of Apple; Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook; and Satya Nadella of Microsoft in his Manhattan Trump Tower. And not stopping in the national level, Trump has credited himself with Japanese telecom and internet conglomerate SoftBank’s decision to invest $50 billion in the United States and create 50,000 new jobs.
And even though Trump hasn’t yet taken office, his unprecedented actions have traveled across the globe and impacted international relations. Shortly before the end of 2016, five countries introduced a vote to the U.N. Security Council aimed at stopping Israel’s settlements. Trump made it his job to defend America’s longtime ally by making phone calls to both Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after Obama’s administration refused to use their veto power to reject the resolution.
Under pressure by president-elect Trump and Israel, Egypt pulled the plug on the resolution, but New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia, and Senegal decided to go ahead, and the resolution passed 14-0. Trump said, via-tweet, that the passing of the resolution will make it harder to negotiate peace, but remained confident peace can be obtained.
Some may argue that all elected presidents start building ties with foreign and national leaders even before taking office, but none of them have done it as loudly and proudly as Donald Trump has, leaving no question at to whether his presidency will shake up the paradigms in international relations.