Donald Trump’s Contract with the American Voter


(Chelsea Beck/NPR)

(Chelsea Beck/NPR)

The headlines following election night all revolved around the same theme: shock, questioning how such an outcome could have occurred. A recent article that tried to explain the result was Jim Rutenberg’s piece in the New York Times, where he, his editors, and others came to terms with the fact that they had ceased to be journalists over the course of the last six months and instead had become glorified, partisan cheerleaders. They had made a foregone conclusion that their candidate would win and created such a sense of security that when anybody dared suggest that Donald Trump had a path to the presidency, their journalistic credibility was on the line. One needs to look no further than Nate Silver, an aggregator of pollsters, being mocked and ridiculed for giving Hillary Clinton only a 70 percent chance at the presidency. He is not free from blame either, as his “polls-plus forecast” seemed to adjust a candidate’s chances by nothing more than a factor called, “Nate’s gut feeling.”

With polls losing credibility after the miscalculated results of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, we enter a great period of uncertainty and hope for which November 8th serves as this year’s season finale. Yet, looking at Trump’s 100 day plan, it seems certain that we’re in for a surprise holiday special.

President-elect Trump’s 100 day plan contrasts heavily with the progressive foundations laid out by the Obama administration in the past 8 years. Most notable is Trump’s opposition to climate change reform and his desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act. However, some of his biggest positions are at odds with his own party, such as being against the GOP’s support of free trade and hawkish foreign policy. As a result, Mr. Trump has begun recruiting big names in the GOP for his transition team in order to push through his agenda,. Overnight, speculations on his cabinet appointees formulated in a list that reads like an SNL skit. Installations such as Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, or a future Secretary of State Sarah Palin are just a taste of what we can expect. Who knows, maybe she really can be of help with U.S. – Russian relations.

Much of his new team will be made up of his loyal followers such as renegades Steve Bannon, and Kellyanne Conway. Due to his inexperience, Donald Trump has a tendency to parrot whomever speaks to him last; so it can be expected that his aides will have unprecedented influence on U.S. policy. Some ideas of his, however, remain unchanged no matter how many hands he shakes: imposing term limits on all members of congress, a ban on government officials lobbying after their service, and most importantly, pushing anti-trust legislation.

This could be his saving grace. Overall, anti-trust proceedings are overwhelmingly popular with the general electorate, and as he is not bound by appeasing donors, he might as well undertake a populist policy position. He has expressed opposition in the past over the consolidation of large corporate interests, such as the AT&T – Time Warner merger. He was resistant to a similar union between Comcast and NBC back in 2013, which he called “poison.” If this desire to break up conglomerates extends to the banking industry and media markets, he could very likely gain the assistance of Sanders supporters and their progressive equals in Congress, giving him enough political capital to push through those first 100 days.

In order to be a successful president with the ability to pass legislation, Donald Trump needs to do a couple of things. For one, he must abandon any bills that can be seen as racially charged in favor of anti-trust regulations. He now has the chance to be the biggest threat to organized monopolies since Teddy Roosevelt. Secondly, he must desert the party’s obsession with social conservatism and quell any threat to repeal marriage equality or federal abortion rights. He may be persuaded by more moderate republicans that these decisions give the GOP a larger voter base, since the electorate no longer has to vote solely on token issues.

While Donald Trump’s 100 day plan contains both controversial and novel ideas, he still does not have total support in Congress to pass much of it. His best hope is to use his outsider status to distance himself from the GOP’s standard positions, and hope to compromise with legislators on both sides of the aisle. The whole situation is reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry where we find ourselves on the ground as a new authority threatens a fight. Do we give Trump a chance to reform civil servitude and end monopolies, or do we seek to block him from doing anything, let alone sneezing?  Trump’s presidency is staring the nation down, gun in hand, and asking, “So, do you feel lucky, punk?”

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