President-elect Donald Trump will potentially be the most disappointing president in a century. Now calm down; before you get the pitchforks and torches, being a disappointment isn’t always a bad thing. But it’s not always a good thing either.
Let’s start with the good to get off on the right foot, so to speak.
GOOD: Trump is not Hillary
Stating the obvious. Trump has a solidly Republican congress, a marginally Republican senate (though not filibuster-proof, it certainly has the power to kill the filibuster), and the GOP controls more state legislatures and state houses than at any time in the last 60 years. We can call that a “tremendous asset.”
We won’t be facing a rabid progressive agenda pushed by empowered socialists with a feeling of invincibility and smug sense of “mandate.” This is good for the 60 million Americans who reject such nanny-state elitism.
There will be a fairly long honeymoon with the rust-belt disaffected, the oft-maligned “white evangelicals” (who are really not a bloc or a unified force for much of anything, other than a convenient moniker for people who despise political correctness and Godless progressivism), foreign policy hawks, and national mercantilists who believe in government-led protectionism.
A rather shorter honeymoon will be enjoyed by many Bible literate, protestant, weekly church-going pro-life, pro-traditional marriage Christians; liberty-minded federalists (who support the 10th Amendment); small government fiscal conservatives. And one group who deserves no honeymoon: the so-called “alt-right” of racial extremists, white supremacists, and self-described neo-Nazis.
There will be no honeymoon with the national press, period. As Jonah Goldberg would say, we’ve all earned some fremdschämen watching the media squirm and continually get played by Trump. Trump is not Hillary, and I don’t think I could stand four years of the MSM fawning over her like she was their fairy godmother.
GOOD: Energy, environment, education will be great again
Three areas where the left’s unbearable smugness and closedmindedness ruled for far too long are in energy policy, fed by a religious zeal for Gaia-worship; and education as an indoctrination machine to make more far-left liberals.
I’ve heard Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias tell of one of his staff members, who attended a top-tier American university. She politely confronted one of her professors as a freshman because he continually mocked and degraded Christians while teaching a topic not remotely related to religion. Sent to the dean for “disrupting” the classroom, she was lectured there for daring to question the Zeitgeist. The dean told her that her parents had indoctrinated her for 18 years, and now she was here to get an education.
This is the system that produced Ben Smith and Kate Arthur at Buzzfeed who went after Chip and Joanna Gaines simply because their church believes the Bible.
There is every indication that Trump’s administration will support school choice, home schooling, and ending the persecution of religious-based colleges, which will make it easier for parents who wish to avoid public schools stripped of any mention of God or the Bible to provide their children with a solid education. That’s good news.
On the environment and energy, it’s clear that Trump will oppose, and hopefully reverse, President Obama’s stifling environmental regulations which have kept our energy costs higher than they need be despite a virtual oil boom in North Dakota. Trump backs the Dakota Access pipeline which Obama has blocked from completion. He has promised to break with the greenhouse-gas limiting Paris accords.
It may once again be safe for “climate change deniers” to show their faces–at least in Washington, D.C. The data may actually get a fairer hearing under Trump than it ever had under Obama, who believed there was only one side to the issue, facts be damned.
GOOD: The military will be cool again
We may not see Maverick and Goose, or Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin as the Delta Force, but it’s got to be better than the last eight years. Obama has managed to make even the vaunted Navy SEALs seem mundane and corrupted by virtually taking credit for Usama bin Laden’s killing. There’s been more about the military and sex scandals, security breaches, transgender access, and shootings on base than there have been reasons to embrace those in uniform. This is shameful.
It’s obvious that Trump respects the military and feels some brotherhood with those in uniform–kind of a wannabe sort of admiration, but as Commander-in-Chief he will give the kick-asses much more latitude than the kiss-asses. The appointments of Gen. Flynn, Gen. Mattis, and former Army officer Mike Pompeo at CIA are good news for those in uniform, and bad news for the social experimenters and anti-Christians in our armed forces.
Now we get to the bad part, but it’s not all bad. We’ll take the good disappointments first and work our way to the bad and the ugly.
The left and the press
They’re rooting for a total Trump meltdown, a national catastrophe of proportions unseen since the Civil War. They (literally) want to see riots in the streets, bread lines, market crashes, national humiliation overseas. They want to dance on Trump’s grave while he’s still alive. To borrow from Rush Limbaugh in 2008: They hope he fails.
They’re in for a big disappointment. Trump will not fail.
He will make missteps, mistakes, maybe a blunder or two. The press won’t give him the slightest bit of leeway, and even when he does something the left would praise were it any other politician (like the Carrier deal), because it’s Trump, it’s going to be bad.
They’re only exposing their own bias, and Trump knows how to strip them down to their lust for ratings and relevance.
The left will be disappointed because in many ways, they will be able to find no fault in his goals, only in his methods and his total disdain for political correctness. But political correctness has always been a sham: a means to an end. It’s not clear that Trump’s ends are much different than many on the left.
Trump has advocated some kind of social safety net. He has opposed cutting Social Security and other entitlements. He has spoken warmly of government single-payer health care. He has flirted with a higher minimum wage. He has backed off immigration as long as they’re coming here to go to school. His appointments at Treasury and Commerce scream “liberal.” Unions like Trump because he speaks in their vernacular–blaming management and greedy companies going offshore.
I’m glad in many ways that the left will be disappointed. They may even end up liking Trump in a few years. But that’s not good for the rest of us conservatives.
Small government conservatives and debt hawks
It’s not going to happen under Trump. The federal Leviathan is going to continue untouched. All this talk about simplifying regulations might someday start to happen, but Trump has no history of cost-cutting or downsizing when he’s got money in the bank. Imagine him with an unlimited bank account and unlimited credit. It’s going to be a disaster for small government conservatives and debt hawks.
States rights proponents
Trump is a believer in a strong central government. He’s not going to start ceding powers back to the states, except possibly as a showman move with Obamacare, although the feds will still take the lead there. Far from shutting down federal agencies like the EPA and Department of Education, Trump will simply choose different winners and losers while the agencies continue merrily on and entitlements continue to grow.
You can’t possibly manage a $1 trillion infrastructure investment while shrinking the federal government or increasing state’s rights. Trump has no intention to do this and will actively oppose any attempts to force the issue.
While Trump says he will (and likely will) nominate pro-life Supreme Court Justices (see above, he’s not Hillary), he isn’t going to make any kind of large push to end abortion. Why not? First of all, not even President George W. Bush made headway there, and he had nearly four years with a Republican congress. There’s so much legal precedent to roll back, the effort must start with the states. Trump may celebrate (i.e. take credit for) some small victories at the state level, but the sheer number of liberal federal judges simply is unlikely to be overcome by one term in office.
Abortion is going to be a back burner issue for President Trump. I hope I’m wrong.
Trump said that same-sex marriage is “settled law” and he won’t try to reverse it. That doesn’t bode well if you compare it to the body of law supporting abortion (see above). What we will see from Trump will be a light, yeasty Christianity, where many of the most egregious overreaches of the left will be condemned, but on actual social issues, he will be very much neutral, if not liberal.
This means states will still experience corporate blackmail if they try to push laws like North Carolina’s HB2 (which Trump opposed in April before flipping on the issue). When it suits Trump to leave things to the states, it’s because he doesn’t want to take the heat on the issue at hand.
Bible believing Christians will have more access to the White House, but they will decidedly not have Trump’s ear on many issues. Those Christians who were looking for a political savior will be sorely disappointed.
In foreign policy, persecuted Christians around the world may not have a huge friend in Trump. He will approach “deals” in a very businesslike, quid-pro-quo matter.
Second Amendment supporters
Trump got an early endorsement from the NRA and is widely seen as a friend to gun owners. But in reality, it’s not a terribly high priority for him. He’s a native New Yorker who didn’t grow up around guns, hunting, or the military.
In his 2000 book “The America We Deserve,” Trump had no problem with an “assault weapons” ban. Most of the Second Amendment progress we’ve seen in America has come from friendly judges. Congress has done essentially nothing–which is actually a good thing since most of the bills they’ve considered have been absolutely terrible.
Speeding up background checks, holding the line on awful “no fly no buy” laws, and generally supporting self-defense use of firearms is about the best we can hope for, and most of that is through the courts and congress. It’s not going to be a high priority–but hooray: it’s not Hillary.
This is a broad heading of people who chanted “lock her up!” and “build a wall!” and other fan favorites at Trump rallies. Neither of those things is going to happen in a satisfying way. He came to praise Hillary, not bury her (apologies to Shakespeare). The wall will be a part-wall-part-fence.
There will be no mass deportations.
There will be no blocking Muslims from entering the country.
There will likely be more ICE and Border Patrol agents. There will likely be more scrutiny to individuals entering the U.S. from certain countries. There may be more enforcement of existing visa laws (but not mass deportations).
There will be some gestures toward companies who plan to move offshore, and possibly some White House initiatives to offer carrots to companies who stay (lower corporate tax) and sticks to those who leave (by the same token). But these will not really satisfy the blood list of the Trumpkins.
They will stick with their man as long as he continues to embarrass the press, but even that will begin to get old, once their man is in the Oval Office.
Like Obama’s core constituency, they will eventually be disappointed, because Trump will have to actually govern according to the constraints of the office. He will not be king. He will not be a dictator (to the chagrin of the left who wish he would try so they could topple him).
Some of the deals Trump makes will be worth crowing over by Trumpkins, but many (most) will be less than a full portion of his promises. People who were promised that their personal America would be made great again will not see it or anything close to it.
People will still lose their jobs, their homes, and their retirements. Financial crimes will still happen. Violent crimes will continue to occur. Hillary Clinton will continue to be free and to live well, see her grandchild, and visit with the Trumps.
The blood and soil crowd will find themselves again marginalized once the media leaves them alone with their fantasies. The media will learn the “new normal” and begin to treat Trump with the respect of the office. Breitbart will continue to be as pro-Trump as the New York Times was pro-Obama–and there’s nothing wrong with that.
And Trump’s cabinet will consist of left, right, liberal, conservative, and even critics like Mitt Romney. Trumpkins will feel betrayed because their man was supposed to follow through with the Jacobin plan to wipe away all opposition to Trumpism. They were supposed to cross the Rubicon and take Rome–the Trumpkins acting as lictors and their fasces armed with ax heads.
Instead, President Trump will disappoint everyone, because, horror of horrors, he will become what every president must be: a politician.