Why I’m Optimistic About a Trump Presidency (and It’s Not Because I’m a Straight White Male)
I understand that I’m unique in my optimism about Donald Trump’s Presidency, but while things are bad, they could be far, far worse: we could be hearing reports of President-elect Cruz’s plans to nominate a Supreme Court Justice. While Donald Trump might seem like a Radical Republican, he is also an egomaniac — and that’s exactly what will ensure he won’t be as terrible a president as we think he is. He wants America to like him, and now that means he must appeal to all Americans.
Trump is an old, rich, white man. He had the best shot at winning the presidency as a Republican candidate. That much is not difficult to wrap our minds around; a businessman running on a Republican platform is nothing new.
To win the Republican nomination, he had to say some very extreme things, some things behind which there is little conviction. Sure, he might have meant them…but I don’t think so. It should be pretty clear at this point that Trump says lots of things; some might even say he says the best things. But the things he says are hardly consistent from one day to the next. He’s happy to make bold pronouncements that differ sharply with previously stated positions in an effort to get the crowd riled up.
Trump likes being liked, and he wants to be liked by the American people. In the primary election, it was easy to get people to like him. He made fun of, debased, and silenced all of the other candidates in an effort to make himself seem like a strongman leader. Those disillusioned with the Traditional Republican Candidates, unintelligible buffoons, and outright shysters he was running against were happy to get behind a man like Trump — a man who was going to speak his mind, consequences be damned. He enjoyed being a renegade; a renegade who was a champion of the people.
Suddenly, he found himself the Republican nominee, the voice of the American Right. The American Right is locked in an epic battle with the American Left, and Hillary Clinton is the nominee of the Democratic Party, and thus is the voice of the American Left. Trump found himself his party’s standard-bearer — or at the very least, the standard-bearer of the “conservative cause” in today’s America. All he had to do was fight against Hillary Clinton; threaten to throw her in jail. The American Right opposes the American Left, therefore Trump will oppose Hillary. The American Right suddenly loves Trump.
Score one for Trump, more people like him because he stands for The American Right. This was getting easy, wasn’t it Donald? All he had to do was oppose. Oppose the establishment nominees for the Republican ticket, oppose the standard-bearer of the liberal left. He’s good at opposing, because when you oppose something, you find people on your side of the ring — especially in the fickle court of public opinion. The thing about opposing someone though, is that you don’t need to do anything in order to be liked. You just need to stand in solidarity with those who also oppose what you oppose.
But now, The Donald has found himself in a pickle. He’s the President-elect of the U.S., and he has no one to oppose. He has no one on which to blame the state of the US economy, the state of US immigration policy, or the state of US foreign affairs. He’s found himself in a position where he is actually in charge of these major policy decisions, and if something goes wrong, or isn’t the best — well, whose fault is that?
It’s easy to trash Obamacare when you only have to win the support of the American Right. That much is simple. It’s much more difficult to trash Obamacare when suddenly, the jury in the court of public opinion includes not only the American Right, but the American Left, as well as — gasp — centrists!
Ted Cruz? Ted Cruz wouldn’t have given a hootenanny about what the country thinks of him. He is committed to a radically conservative agenda, and should he have been elected president, would have done everything in his power to enact such an agenda.
But things are different with the Donald, because he has no such radical agenda; his only real goals running for President were as follows: 1) get “Trump” as much media coverage as possible, 2) rile up crowds and get them to like “Trump”, and c) win the presidency. Winning the presidency was a distant third to name recognition and getting people to like him. Ted Cruz cares about policy; Donald Trump cares about popularity.
In the end, this might work out in our favor. Trump no longer has to pander to a select, radical minority of Americans in order to be “liked” — he must now pander to all Americans. Left, right, and center are watching him closely, and his ego won’t allow him to be put in a position where he isn’t liked. He simply doesn’t care about running the government enough to pursue his own agenda, so in a weird twist of fate, his presidency might become the most democratic, the most answerable to the will of the people, which the nation has ever seen.
My concerns are twofold: 1) that he surrounds himself with policy-makers that actually do have a political agenda, and end up running the government while the Donald wines and dines his way through state dinners, and 2) that he finds a common, foreign enemy to oppose, the same way he did with Rubio, Cruz, and Clinton, in an effort to unite Americans behind the Great Banner of Trump. It will not do us any good if we come together in unity to oppose Putin’s Russia.
While these concerns are legitimate, it’s my true hope that should either of these concerns become radicalized, the sensible population of Americans who did not vote Trump for President will voice their concerns, their dissatisfaction with their President, and he will change his policies accordingly — if for no other reason than he wants to be liked. And now, since he is the leader of the free world, that means being liked by all Americans — not just who put him into office.