Nixon went to China.

It may well be that Trump can bully his own party into agreeing to economic reforms they’d never agree to from a Democratic President.

Donald Trump has gone through his whole life as a frat boy in public, delighting in winning whatever game he plays without any regard for others. He’s been a used car salesman and salesmen can’t be found after the sale is made. If there’s a problem, talk to the service department. Well, he made the sale but now he’s the service department. He has to make real choices.

I don’t think he expected to win, so on the campaign trail he could say anything he wanted to get people excited to buy what he was selling. The problem is, we still don’t really know what that was, from a policy standpoint. He’s been on both sides of a lot of issues (like raising the minimum wage) — Forrest Trump is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’ll get. His reluctance to pick a side was probably strategic…he’s not stupid.

Well, now the frat boy has to come clean. What are his morals? He can no longer hide behind criticizing everything without making clear choices. He has to decide what he stands for or, at least, reveal it to the rest of us.

There are some reasons to be hopeful. At the first debate he kept nodding in agreement at what Clinton was saying (then shielded his eyes so he could see his advisors frantically trying to get him to stop nodding). He seems to agree with a lot of what Bernie Sanders said about the rigged economy during the Democratic primaries.

Since the election, both Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have pointed to some areas of agreement on which progress might be made — he said he wants to restore Glass-Steagall, wants a higher minimum wage, favors massive infrastructure building and a couple others. These are issues that large majorities of Americans agree upon and his self-contradictory statements during the campaign give him wiggle room to choose either side, or to split the baby. It has always perplexed me that the “cultural issues” have for decades prevented left and right from coming together politically on economic issues they really agree upon: punish Wall St. for 2008, dilute the influence of big money in politics, mitigate the ill effects of free trade, and many other economic issues. (Dems under Bill Clinton ceded the economic issues in 1992 to get the White House and fought, and won, on many cultural issues since then.). Trump might just be able to bully hinterland Republicans to agree to some of these items now that swing voters have revealed that economic and clean government issues are more important than cultural ones to them. They want the economy, and government, fixed. Clinton was not convincing about doing any of that. All she would say was that she opposed Citizens United, not a rallying cry, and made other vague blandishments. Trump was more forceful. He said the hedge fund managers “won’t be happy” because he will end the carried interest loophole. He also has no great love for banks (which stopped extending him credit) so restoring Glass-Steagall will be a bit of payback (and he loves payback). Furthermore, he has been openly disdianful of Wall St. so a transaction tax might be somthing he’d favor, especially if he cares about the deficit.

By taking over the Republican Party, Trump has an opportunity to beat them over the head on these economic issues they’ve been hiding behind cultural ones.

Trump is going to be surrounded by Republican operatives. It remains to be seen where his forced, fast, maturation takes him morally (at least in his public persona) and then, where it doesn’t end up agreeing with conservative doctrine; whether he will stand up to them when it comes to figuring out how to pay for those things he said he wanted (maintaining Social Security and Medicare, pouring more money into the military <ahem, so it can be less interventionist>, etc.)

He said famously, before the Iowa Caucuses, “How stupid are the people of Iowa?” because they represent the middle America to whom he can sell anything just by riling them up on cultural issues. They are the “NASCAR Dads”, the WWE and Honey-Boo-Boo crowd, the damned idiots who have been holding this country back by voting Republican against their own economic interests — because they are against gay rights, abortion, marijuana legalization, and not feeling free to be openly bigoted. Undoubtedly, some of the cultural gains made over the past 20 years will slip, hopefully not too far. As strongly as many of us feel on those issues, economic issues have been too lightly dealt with for too long (Obama was able to make some progress). Trump’s support from Evangelicals is a sign that they focused on cultural issues in voting for him — he’ll have to throw them some red meat — but glossed over his heresies against conservative, “neo-liberal” economic positions (the #Doncon). The swing voters who gave him the Presidency are expecting no less than a reversal of the policies underpinning those neo-liberal positions. It remains to be seen what he actually does but there is reason to hope he can shame the Republican Party he now owns to fix the system (which they built) that has drip-drip-dripped the middle class out of the American Dream.

Nixon went to China.

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