Trump Will Make Everyone Happy, But For Different Reasons
On the eve of his inauguration, Trump was eagerly anticipated by just under half of the population. Whatever happens during his term, however, he’ll have pleased both his supporters and those vehemently opposed to him. Here’s why.
It is widely agreed that Trump was elected on the mandate of change. Those who voted for him were - on the whole - those who had gotten worse off relative to the rest of the American people. The steel workers, coal miners, and the manual labourers, many were on the receiving end of globalisation that liberals - myself included - often choose to naively ignore. Whilst a strong argument can be made for why globalisation has still benefited the steel workers and coal miners, now is not the time.
Despite his gold plated elevators and luxurious penthouses, Trump was also elected on the basis of being an outsider in the eyes of the electorate. This is well versed by several pundits, so I won’t go into detail. What this means for his presidency, however, is that it will be defined as a battle between the liberal establishment that has caused so much grief, and the crusader that is Donald Trump.
The implications of both these mandates are huge. It means that all Trump has to do in order to succeed is try. Unlike Presidents before him who were elected on the basis of the political talent that stemmed from being part of the “establishment”, Trump was elected because he was precisely the opposite. The result of this is that he is no longer a President who’ll be judged on what he got done, but rather what he tried to get done.
Obama’s legacy is mixed. Those who love him claim what he got done was fantastic, others were disappointed by the lack of overall progress during his eight years, and many felt that his policies made the US a worse place. The mixed legacy comes from ambivalence towards what Obama actually achieved. The same goes for Bush, another political insider. Many fiscal hawks decried his bailing out of the banks and car industries, whilst the consensus on the left was one of hatred towards his foreign policy. Both these presidents were judged on what they actually achieved, good or bad.
For Trump, the situation is different. Many have called him out on verging on dictatorial. The recent healthcare flop, however, shows that the checks and balances that can so beautifully prevent tyranny are still going strong. Those who are opposed to Trump delight in the fact that his repealing of Obamacare failed. After all, it was one of his central campaign promised. But it is exactly that which makes his supporters most likely equally happy.
For want of a better phrase, he put his balls on the line and he got stuck in. The reason many Trump supporters voted him into the Oval Office was that previous presidents had been hesitant and predictable. Trump was exciting and new. He ripped up the political playbook and wrote his own rules, much to the dismay of that pesky establishment. Therefore, his move to repeal Obamacare within the first 100 days of the presidency will be seen as an act of decisiveness. That is why it doesn’t matter whether Trump’s policies become law. All he has to do is appear like he’s doing something. He isn’t being judged on the same grounds as his predecessors.
Indeed, if he fails to get his flagship policies through, his supporters will be disappointed, but not in him. If anything, it will bolster their view that the system no longer works for them. The beauty of Trump’s situation is that if anything goes wrong, he can blame the system and even the media. And his supporters lap it up. For Trump, this means he will almost always be the heroic crusader.
For Trump fans, if he fails, he does so as a political martyr. He tried more than other politicians did to change the system, but the system wouldn’t allow it. Those who despise Trump and his policies, however, will rub their hands with glee as they see his inevitable policy failures come to light. At the end of the day, however, everyone is satisfied.