Translating Trump, Part Three

5 Dec

This is the last post on politics for a while. Today I want to take one last look at Donald Trump and again try to make sense of the diversity of views on his presidency. The paradigm I have been using is the continuum which highlights the extreme views some people take toward Trump. Here it is one more time . . .

TRUMP IS HITLER <———————————> TRUMP IS SAVIOR

Last time I took a look at Trump’s character through a series of questions and answers. I concluded that while Trump has some deplorable characteristics, he is almost certainly not another Hitler and is in fact in the area of character not much different in some ways than others who have lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Today I want to use the same Q & A method to look at Trump’s policies in order to consider whether Trump will be the kind of Savior many who voted for him expect him to be.

Q & A on Trump’s Policies . . .

  1. Who expects Trump to be a Savior? A portion of those conservatives who voted for him who desire change on a variety of fronts. Some (“Reagan democrats” in the Rust Belt come to mind) voted for Trump for economic reasons. These people will look to him to deliver them from economic malaise to economic opportunity. Others look to Trump to save America from moral decline. It might seem a stretch to think of Trump as a moral crusader, but in fact there are some in the evangelical world in particular who voted for Trump in the hopes that his Supreme Court nominees would overturn abortion, uphold religious liberty and otherwise curtail what they saw as an activist judicial branch. Others expect Trump to save the country from the Washington establishment. Trump’s position as an outsider gives him the power to “drain the swamp,” putting the people above special interests once again. Finally, some view Trump’s election as a salvation from the status quo. Many voters could not stomach the election of Hillary Clinton to the Oval Office (mostly because of character concerns rather than gender in my opinion) and the inevitable extension of President Obama’s policies (like the Affordable Care Act, open borders, and left-leaning social policy). Can Trump be a Savior to these groups?

2.  Can Trump be an Economic Savior? On one level, some would say Trump is inheriting a good economy and doesn’t need to do much saving. Unemployment is low, the stock market is booming, many people are doing well. But there is in our country an impending sense of economic doom. There is the massive deficit (more than $20 trillion). There is the stagnation of the middle class, where salary growth has come at a snail’s pace over the last decade. At the same time, health insurance costs have skyrocketed under Obamacare (the great unmentioned factor in this election result in my opinion is the letters with Obamacare rate increases many people received in October). There is the entitlement bubble, the increasing reality that there are more and more people on the entitlement train and fewer and fewer workers funding the entitlements. There are world economic realities to consider and many other issues as well. The economy only looks good from certain angles. Many people are worried. Can Trump change things? I am skeptical. He seems reluctant to cut entitlements but at the same time wants to cut corporate taxes massively. Will those tax cuts stimulate enough economic growth to raise up the middle class without plunging us further into debt and bringing even more instability to our future? Will we see the 1% enriched but everyone else left behind? At the same time, Trump wants to build up our military and take better care of our veterans. Many people would see the value in these things but again wonder how they will be funded. The issue is whether Trump’s America first economic policies can generate enough cash to fund the things he is unwilling to cut. Is the Carrier deal a symbolic act or a sign of more deals to come? Time will tell whether Trump can really enact his America first agenda and even then it will probably be years before we know whether any of it was actually good for the economy.

3. Can Trump be a Moral Savior (for Conservatives)? I believe Trump more than anything will be a Morale Savior for conservatives. He will make conservatives feel good again. He will put the breaks on left-leaning social policy while also seeking to instill pride and patriotism in the nation. He will try to be Reaganesque in his love of country in order to inspire Americans to greatness. I doubt Trump will push very hard against gay rights or abortion (though his Supreme Court appointments may pave the way for change in abortion law) but conservatives will probably feel better about the country than they did for the last eight years. In short, Trump will encourage conservatives but many others who are scared are unlikely to be won over.

4. Can Trump “Drain the Swamp”? On one level, there is no way Trump can fully drain the swamp. He has to hire more than 4000 staff and various cabinet offices and other advisors. Where is he going to get qualified candidates for government service if not from Washington, DC? He can’t staff his White House with former Apprentice contestants. There is a sense in which Trump will have to hire many people with Washington experience in order to govern. On the other hand, Trump could very possibly do some good things in this area if he gets through two policies he has espoused: term-limits for Congress and limitations on lobbying by those who leave office. Both of these measures would have broad-based public support and with Trump’s bully pulpit on Twitter I could see him getting these things through. Additionally, both measures would seem to provide real help to the problems many see inside the beltway. Trump can’t drain the swamp but he can make a real difference here.

5. Can Trump Reverse the Status Quo? Trump can make small changes, but the changes he promised in the campaign are unlikely to happen and he has already signaled that this is the case. Trump promised to build a “big, beautiful wall” with Mexican money but it is more likely that Trump will strengthen the border without a full blown wall from coast to coast. Trump will take a hard-line militarily and will be willing say the words “Radical Islam” but he will most likely not be able to stop rogue lone wolf terrorists within our borders. Trump may be able to alter Obamacare but he will lean toward keeping those aspects of the law Americans like (especially the provision for pre-existing conditions).

Conclusion: Trump will be able to make substantial changes in our nation but it is unlikely that he will be able to produce change on a scale like what he promised during the campaign. Trump’s most rabid supporters may be disappointed. The reality of governing is compromise. Trump knows this because this is also the reality of business. The fact that Trump has experience with this reality could make him an effective leader. He may get more done than many previous presidents while somewhat alienating his base. In the end, Trump may make himself less polarizing through actual governance. Time will tell.  We are in the world of the Great Unknown. A man with no political background is poised to take the highest office in the land. Trump is neither Hitler nor a Savior, but he may yet turn out to be a good President. For the sake of our nation, I hope he is a great President.

 

 

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