In just one year, has Donald Trump changed the presidency forever?

Jeffrey Engel, director of SMU's Center for Presidential History, is interviewed for a story on President Trump's effect on the presidency.

By Todd J. Gillman
Washington Bureau Chief 

WASHINGTON — Aside from the promises kept or broken, the turmoil and tweet rants, historians are already debating whether Donald Trump has had a lasting impact on the presidency.

The American system of government hinges not just on constitutional checks and balances but on norms and expectations. In his first year as president, Trump has shattered one after another.

That has delighted supporters. He cast himself as an outsider who would shake up Washington and “drain the swamp," and they welcome whatever change he can bring to the office, the longer-lasting the better.

The pivots from precedent have gone far beyond policy shifts. The 45th president has done things the first 44 never considered.  . . . 

Will future presidents find it easier to flout convention?

“The strict academic answer is that it’s too soon to tell. We’ll find out in 25 years how the presidency has evolved post-Trump,” said Jeffrey Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University.

Much will hinge not on Trump himself but the next president, and the one after that. On that, scholars agree, whether or not they believe Trump has already altered the institution.

“Our civic society and our sense of what the presidency means for the country is not written down,” Engel said. “He has already laid the seeds of fundamentally changing the presidency. ... Nobody is going to trust norms in the same way that we did before.”


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