Summary: What can we expect from the Trump era? The internet overflows with guesses fueled by imagination plus Trump’s vague and contradictory statements. Here are three more, but better founded. Trump will make the 1% happy. Populism is toast. Congress will set the agenda. See the reasons; put your reactions in the comments.
Key #1: Trump the outsider becomes an insider
“What might President Trump’s defense policy look like? We have few solid facts to go on. But one is of overriding importance: because Trump is anti-establishment…”
— William Lind.
History teaches that events make opinions. As I said in January (when he Wise said Trump’s odds of winning were a joke), Trump’s rise will resemble events in March 1815, when Napoleon broke his exile on Elba and marched to Paris. See the headlines in Le Moniteur Universel reporting his progress.
- The cannibal has left his lair. — March 9.
- The Corsican ogre has just landed at the Juan Gulf. — March 10.
- The tiger has arrived at Gap. — March 11.
- The monster slept at Grenoble. — March 12.
- The tyrant has crossed Lyons. — March 13.
- The usurper was seen sixty leagues from the capital. — March 18.
- Bonaparte has advanced with great strides, but he will never enter Paris. — March 19.
- Tomorrow, Napoleon will be under our ramparts. — March 20.
- The Emperor has arrived at Fontainbleau. — March 21.
- His Imperial and Royal Majesty entered his palace at the Tuileries last night in the midst of his faithful subjects. — March 22.
Americans love a winner. Doubly so for our journalists and courtiers in the Versailles-on-the-Potomac. Trump the outcast will become Trump the star. So our leaders will work with Trump.
Trump’s campaign put him in opposition to our ruling elites. Will that be the pattern of his Presidency, or will he pursue policy changes they both want? They have a long list of shared goals, a list to keep Washington busy for four years (see the next section).
We know two facts about Trump. First, his history shows no signs either of strong ideological convictions or of rebellion against his fellow plutocrats. Second, he is a master of the deal. Both imply good news for America’s 1%! Perhaps the deal has already been made…
Key #2: The Art of the Deal in action
Trump might already have started betraying populism. He plans to make massive tax cuts for the rich financed by borrowing. (The GOP’s previous two tries at this almost wrecked the government’s solvency; third time’s the charm!) Trump’s initial objectives include Wall Street’s top Christmas wish — repeal of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. — and the Right’s favorite: repealing ObamaCare. One of his Trump’s key economic advisors disclosed plans to scrap regulations limiting Wall Street’s ability to scam clients, replacing it with more of the self-regulation that has failed so often.
Trump probably will support many upopular right-wing policies, such as loosening safeguards for workers, repealing environmental regulations (e.g., Clean Power Plan), crushing unions, and tax cuts for the rich.
People are policy in Washington. His campaign finance chairman is Goldman Sach’s alumni Steven Mnuchin (Goldman wins because they back both candidates). Rumors are that he and JP Morgan head Jamie Dimon are among the likely Treasury Secretaries. “Donald Trump Ran on Protecting Social Security But Transition Team Includes Privatizers.” Watch his appointees to see what to expect from Team Trump.
My prediction of the result: populism is toast, as America’s elites repeat their successes with the Tea Party (the GOP turned them: born fighting the banks, ended electing the banks’ servants) and Occupy Wall Street (brutally crushed, in 2016 the Democrats supported Goldman’s candidate).
Key #3: Congress is the strongest branch
“It is not possible to give to each department an equal power of self-defense. In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates.”
— James Madison explained in Federalist Papers #51.
Everybody focuses on Trump as the big mover of 2017-2020, ignoring the other players at the table. Such as the leaders of Congress. They have solid Republican majorities in both Houses — one of the most ideologically coherent caucuses in modern American history. It’s a tool — well-stocked with right-wing activists ready to wield it.
Political gurus talk about the imperial presidency, but the Founders believed that Congress was potentially the most powerful branch of the government. They have taken the initiative from the President before — Nixon was not one of our great liberal presidents by choice — and might again if Trump cannot manage them. Obama felt the power of their disciplined ranks of conservatives. Trump also suffer if they see him departing from the Right path.
The likely result will be a power struggle between Congress and Trump, with the House as center ring for budget fights and the Senate for tug-of-war over appointments and treaties. The first salvos have already been fired: “GOP insiders to Trump: Leave the policy to Paul Ryan.”
Update: another possible break between Trump and the House: Paul Ryan’s extremely unpopular plan to privatize Medicare, anti-populist.
Who will win? FDR lead a Congress united to face obvious foes. He did so resolutely and with almost more-than-human skill. LBJ was a masterful manipulator of Congress, pushing them to achieve the almost unattainable goals that he set for them. Reagan led Congress to boldly cut taxes and boost spending. Trump has set for himself goals almost as ambitious as FDR and LBJ. Time will tell whether Trump has the discipline and ability to manage Congress, or if they will manage him (I’ll bet on Congress). Either way, America will take a large step to the Right during the next four years.
“I call them girlie men.”
— Arnold Schwarzenegger mocks the California legislature, showing how not to pass laws (17 July 2004). Bet that Trump will try this tactic.
Understanding the results of Campaign 2016
- Resources to help you prepare for the Trump years.
- Breaking the myths about Campaign 2016, so we can prepare for 2020.
- Clinton lost because fear failed, and her SJW’s terrified voters.
- Three big things to expect from the Trump era.
- Will Trump and conservatives inflict payback on their foes?
- Trump and the 1% lead America back to its past, to its roots.
For More Information
- Ron Paul’s exotic past tells us much about him, the GOP, libertarians – and about us.
- The key to modern American politics: the Right-Wing Id Unzipped.
- A look into the GOP mind: untethered from reality and drifting in the wind.
- The GOP budget shows us the New America that lies ahead.
- Mike Lofgren: Republicans Are Revolutionaries, Not Conservatives.
- See how the Republican Party’s history brought forth Trump2016.