As you read this the 45th president of the United States has been sworn into office and we are now in unchartered waters. Some say that is a good thing and exactly what the nation needs; others say that life as we know it will change in fundamental ways.
Both sides are right. The Electoral College gave a majority of votes to Republican Donald J. Trump (though he lost the the popular vote by almost 3 million). It is not hard to argue that Trump will be unlike any other president this country has had. If he was a pure ideologue it would be easier to predict what he might do once in office. But Trump is not driven by ideology, he is driven by his own personality, his own peeves, his self image.
Donald Trump has broken the mold of how a president acts, speaks and leads. As his opponent said last fall he can be baited with a tweet. Twitter is his preferred form of communication, which drives presidential scholars and academes—who are used to sober policy statements and speeches—crazy. Trump’s America First stance will reshape this country’s foreign policy that will look unfamiliar to insiders but will be cheered by the Americans who voted to shake up the established order of things.
When a person with no governmental experience at any level is elected to lead the nation people must realize things will be different. President Trump enters office with the lowest approval ratings of any modern president. Many people decry his Cabinet choices. Many people like the timbre of his voice but not the indidivual notes.
When columnists and political pundits go on about what Trump should do or how he should act are titling at windmills. They must realize that the president has no peers. He operates by his own rules—rules that no one else is playing by. It was axiomatic that presidents spoke about the importance of the NATO alliance and our nation’s support of Europe. President Trump says that NATO is obsolete. What was once thought to be impermeable can become quite fluid in a Trump Administration. Thirty years ago most thought the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain were going to be around forever. Nothing lasts forever, that is one constant in history.
There is much to be concerned about regarding the new administration besides foreign policy (including the cozying up to Vladimir Putin) including easing of clear air and water regulations, expansion of vouchers and charter schools at the expense of public education, repeal of the Affordable Care Act—the list goes on and on.
Supporters of President Trump are excited about the changes they expect he will bring to their lives. They feel they have a champion in the White House who will bring jobs back to the United States, jobs he has said were sent overseas. The fact that most job loss has been due to automatic and technological advances doesn’t resonate—bring my job back is paramount.
The president alone has few tools in his quiver other than the bully pulpit. The move earlier this month by the majority Republicans in Congress to gut its own ethics watchdog was shelved after Trump and constituents railed against the move. Whether they backtracked because of public and media outrage or Trump’s tweets is anyone’s guess, but it did show that the American people will push back.
He must work with Congress to pass any of his programs. Former President Obama used the power of executive order to achieve what he could not get the opposition party to act on. Every president has issued executive orders and there is no reason to think that Trump will be any different.
Supporters are exhilarated about what Trump can accomplish in the next four years. Opponents will stew and protest. But those who do not agree with the new president’s proposals and policies should be the loyal opposition but then look homeward. It has been said that all politics is local. That is true. What matters most to the average American is what happens where they live at the city and county council level as well as state legislatures.
Changing the nation or the world begins at one’s own doorstep. Do good works there first.