Friday, August 14, 2020

Has Donald Trump Changed America Forever?

President Trump holds his first coronavirus press briefing
 in nearly three months, July 21, 2020 | ABC News photo
Win or lose, has Donald Trump changed American politics forever? The impact of a president, even an exceptional one, is typically not beyond a couple of generations. Although Franklin D. Roosevelt produced policy changes and an activist model of governing that is still admired or reviled depending on one’s viewpoint, it had expended most of its political energy by the 1960s. Ronald Reagan’s well-articulated conservative philosophy made it into the early 2000s, but is now mostly a historical reference among current Republicans. Trump, as the disrupter, the norm breaker, the nationalist and public relations maven, will no doubt be a major influence in national policy, presidential style and governance for many years. But for how long and with how much influence is hard to determine. Recall Barry Goldwater, the landslide loser in 1964, birthed a conservative movement and a spokesperson and advocate who extended his influence for 40 years.

Aspects of the Trump Policy Legacy That Will Remain

If Trump loses, several aspects of his legacy will still be around after the administration changes:
  • Hard borders. Nationalism that is leading to hostility to immigrants and refugees appears popular and widespread and is unlikely to change much in the short term.
  • Free trade. Globalism is in retreat and protectionism, tariffs and other barriers to free trade are in accedence.
  • Isolationism. Reducing America’s international commitments is supported by both parties, but with different approaches.
  • China conflict. Rivalry between China and the U.S. is not likely to dissipate and could intensify and expand to other countries.
Aspects of the Trump Presidency That are Most Likely to End

Although it will depend on the November 3 result, it could be like the wave of legislation passed after the Nixon presidency. If control of the Senate and presidency change, expect the following:
  • Nepotism and emolument rules will be significantly tightened.
  • Inspector generals and whistleblower protections strengthened.
  • Use of military for domestic projects at presidential discretion limited.
  • Reinforce congressional oversight and fiscal control.
  • “America First” will disappear as a slogan.
Republican Politics

If Trump loses, the party nomination process for 2024 will begin immediately with competition among all the factions of the historic party and likely new outside interests and celebrities. Also, the Republican Party will no doubt face a Trump restoration effort led by him or his children.

Renewed Democracy

One aspect of Trump’s term of office has been a worldwide heightened awareness of the fragility of democracy from sustained attacks by a committed authoritarian leading a compliant party. Americans may be ready for a renewal of some aspects of more civil and responsible behavior and dialogue. The protections of democratic governance, such as rule of law, an independent functioning judiciary, robust and responsible media, and legislative oversight, are likely to get renewed interest and support. Promoting democracy may again become an important aspect of American foreign policy.

1 comment:

Dave Barnes said...

Hopefully, Congress will claw back power that they have abdicated to the Executive over the last 70 years.