Donald J. Trump officially became the President of the United States of America on January 1, 2017. Although he has his share of diehard fans and well-wishers around the world, Donald Trump is one of the most controversial figures to assume the Presidency, which means he has scores of critics from across the political spectrum. Many have low expectation, at best, for the new President, but Mr. Trump has repeatedly pledged to “make America great again” while his supporters continually boast that he will be the greatest President in US history. To outperform expectations, President Trump will have to overcome opposition to his leadership. If Donald Trump wants to be a successful President, he must address the interests of all factions across the political spectrum and govern for the majority in the middle.
Donald Trump has a choice: he can either try to force his rule onto the country based on what he and his team beliefs the country needs or he can seek to execute the collective will of the American People. Just as President Obama and Congressional Democrats misinterpreted their 2008 victory as a green light to pursue a Left-wing agenda, President Trump and Congressional Republicans face the same risk. With his often disparaging reactions to criticism and dissent, Trump faces the prospect of similar backlash should he prove himself a hypocrite. Little time was discussing public policy options over the course of the 2016 Presidential Election, thus the views of the American People have largely remained unheard. Now is the time for the new President to serve the American People by addressing their interests.
First, it is important to remember that 2016 was not an endorsement of Donald Trump and Republican public policy priorities. It was more a repudiation of Hillary Clinton and, to a lesser extent, a check on Left-wing policies. Donald Trump was able to become President, because the DNC used its influence to prevent viable alternatives to Hillary Clinton and actively promoted a political elite who displayed an I-know-best attitude and refused to take responsibility for her misuse of power when in government. Today, the majority is a collection of minority political factions who find their views and public policy priorities in conflict. While there are numerous differences in how these factions might use the power of government, they do share common interests as Americans.
In many respects, American voters were deprived of the opportunity to choose the candidate they truly wanted in 2016. This is nothing new, but it is a step back from 2008 when American voters wholeheartedly embraced Barack Obama’s aspirations for change. Anti-Trump voters joined the usual anti-Right Wing effort to save the US from the instability and insecurity of a unpredictably outsider while anti-Clinton voters tried to join the usual anti-Left Wing effort to save the US from the status quo of a political elitist who has enriched her family and herself through her political connections. Caught in the middle of this escalated political war between Left Wing and Right Wing factions are the unrepresented majority who need government to work for them and their causes.
These powerful political minorities want complete control over the powerful US government, whether or not their policy priorities and political agendas actually aligned with that of the American People. To them, the interests of the majority of the American People only matter when they need the support of the American People to pursue their agendas. Where the Obama Administration was nearly paralyzed by a Republican Congress unwilling to compromise and govern for the middle, the Forty-Fifth US President will face even greater opposition Unfortunately, the war between the politically influential “anti-factions” have left the American majority with a completely unresponsive and dysfunctional government.
Despite Republican obstruction and public displeasure with many of President Obama’s unrestrained initiatives, he did enjoy a broad base of support. The biggest obstacle to proper governance during his tenure was a major political minority’s unwillingness to accept majority rule and play their proper role as a mitigating minority. In contrast, figures like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are more influential minority leaders than actual majority leaders. What the 2016 Trump-Clinton Election has done is widen the divisions between the various minority political factions to the point where neither the Democrats nor Republicans can adequately represent the majority of the American People.
Like any minority, all the political minorities of the United States can honestly say that the Forty-Fifth President does not truly represent them. Like all minorities, the political minorities cannot expect the US President and Congress to pursue priorities that reflect their interests. When it comes to a political minority, the only means of achieving representation in government and forcing the government to respond to that minority’s interests is for the minority to lobby government. When it comes to a marginalized majority, this means there is a need to push greater civic engagement and sustained political campaigning for specific policies. For Donald Trump, this means a great deal of opposition.
To overcome this friction, the US President will need to earn the support of the American People by pursuing their interests. Although elected officials like to claim American voters are trying to endorse Republican or Democratic priorities, the truth is that voters do not wholly support the agendas of either party. Clearly, Right-leaning voters tend to embrace Republican policy priorities and Left-leaning voters tend to embrace Democratic policy priorities, but the consensus mandate voters are giving all elected official is to clean up government. Reflecting on the loss of Hillary Clinton in 2016, the loss of Mitt Romney in 2012, the loss of Congressional Democrats in 2010, along with the Occupy Protests and the Tea Party Movement, the common goal of voters was political reform. This is what Trump needs to pursue.
On the one hand, the Left does not expect a Trump Presidency to uphold its priorities, so it will continually make Trump the enemy of the People for a 2018 victory or recall vote. In recognizing and addressing moderate concerns that coincide with Leftist views, Trump can, however, disarm such obstacles. On the other hand, Right-wing factions seek to hijack Trump’s drive to fix government in order to dismantle Left-wing and moderate policies. Recognizing the sentiments of the “Never Trump” movement still exist, Republicans intent to use the Trump Presidency to enact the policies of Right-wing special interest groups while hampering any real reforms. Once they get what they want, they will refuse to work with Mr. Trump for what the majority of the American People need.
Consequently, Donald Trump would be wise to prioritize what the American People need the most in order to capitalize on initial Republican cooperation and foster moderate support. Recognizing the deep divisions and strength of the anti-Trump forces, he needs to do this in order to demonstrate his willingness to govern for the American People, instead of the special interest groups on both sides of the aisle, which are the problem in Washington. Looking at Trump’s goals for his first hundred days in office, Trump needs to devote his attention and effort to those things that can easily be pushed to the backburner, yet America needs the most.
Trump must prioritize the following:
Pursue the “Clean up Corruption in Washington Act,” to force new ethics reforms to Drain the Swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.
Unfortunately, the pursuit of change requires time, effort, and cooperation rooted in political capital, which are all very limited resources. At the same time, Donald Trump must recognize that some of his public policy initiatives are not as important as others while they may not be effective or even prudent.
These likely include:
Cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama. (What is unconstitutional is often debatable while many of President Obama’s actions were taken to address key interest of the American Peoples, because Congress refused to do its job and act. President Trump needs to carefully consider each of President Obama’s orders to determine, if it is Constitution and if it is a valid use of government power.)
With that said, below are the share Republican priorities that Trump can easily pursue. It will be tempting for Trump to immediately jump on these public policies, but doing so will hurt his long-term chances of solving Washington’s bigger problems. Once Republicans enact the following, they will stop cooperating with Donald Trump on the top priorities for the American People.
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