In the U.S., Trump has achieved little of lasting significance — and nothing as a populist. The only important piece of legislation he has signed has a been a tax reform that benefits the wealthiest Americans, not a populist measure by any standard. Steve Bannon, the ideologist who helped push Trump into the unlikely role of working-class advocate — and who wrote the inaugural address — is out of the Trump administration and the target of some of the president’s most vicious tweets: “Sloppy Steve,” Trump labeled him memorably. Trump has failed to start building a border wall. Undocumented immigrant detentions on the U.S. southwestern border dropped by more than a quarter in 2017 compared with the previous year — perhaps because fewer immigrants are coming, but still a clear sign that no massive Trump crackdown is underway. Jobs creation slowed down slightly. The international image of the U.S. has taken a hit.
Trump’s presence this year is the ideal backdrop for leaders such as Macron and Merkel. Not only did they win elections in 2017, thwarting populist challenges — they’ve actually achieved something since doing so.