We are just two weeks out from the Inauguration of Donald J. Trump to be the 45th President of these United States. Honest to God, I never thought I would have to say or write, “President Trump…” Nope. But here we are, with Trump continuing to make headlines for things he says, does, or Tweets just about every day from the superficial to matters of National Intelligence and Foreign Policy. Holy smokes.
Professor Larry Sabato of the Center for Politics at UVA had an interesting post that provided the inspiration for the title of this post with his, “2017: At The Dawn Of The Age Of Trump.” In it, he notes how very differently this transition period is going with Trump compared to previous Presidents. I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise considering Trump’s entire campaign flew in the face of traditional campaigns, politics, and elections.
To this transition period, Sabato wrote this:
Trump won the election with narrow but convincing margins in six states won by Barack Obama twice (Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, along with bigger victories in Iowa and Ohio). This kind of swing-state sweep cannot be called a fluke or an aberration, especially given Hillary Clinton’s towering financial and organizational advantages.
At the same time, Trump lost the popular vote by close to 2.9 million, the largest number ever by a candidate who captured the all-important Electoral College. Losing nationally by 2.1 percentage points will hinder Trump in various ways during his term; at the least, it provides a stinging rebuke for Trump’s opponents whenever he takes unpopular actions. (While the popular vote is not how the United States picks presidents, the Trump camp’s argument that they could easily have generated the needed votes in non-swing states if they had wanted is a weak one. The Clinton campaign could have produced millions more votes, too, had there been some payoff for doing so.)
While almost nothing Trump says or does reduces the fervency of his millions of core backers, the president-elect’s controversial tweets and braggadocio have won him few new supporters. He has not reached out to reunify a badly divided country in any sustained way. As a result, he has the lowest ratings of any modern president-elect during the transition period. Essentially, he is about at the 46% level he garnered on Election Day, while other recent presidents-elect have soared in the run-up to their swearing-in. For instance, Gallup found in mid-December that just 48% of Americans approve of how Trump is handling his presidential transition, compared to 75% for Barack Obama, 65% for George W. Bush, and 67% for Bill Clinton. […]
I want to address the last point about Trump not being a “uniter” (as if Obama was) down below. Rachel Lu of The Federalist has a great post about this very issue, and I’ll share some of that in a minute. But first, back to the Trump Transition from Dr. Sabato:
If you doubt it, think back over the Obama-to-Trump transition. While Obama and Trump have been mostly gracious to one another (with prominent exceptions), the two presidents have been akin to dueling suns in the sky. For the most part, this is unprecedented, and the “one president at a time” convention has been shattered. Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt sharply disagreed during their 1932-1933 transition, but the differences were not played out in the headlines. In other party turnovers in the past hundred years-plus, disputes were muted in the interregnum, with the incoming president deferring to the outgoing chief on policy while the president-elect concentrated on picking a Cabinet and making quiet preparations to govern. This description applies in large part to the transitions between Eisenhower-JFK (1960), LBJ-Nixon (1968), Ford-Carter (1976), Carter-Reagan (1980), Bush 41-Clinton (1992), Clinton-Bush 43 (2000), and Bush 43-Obama (2008). (Click here to read the rest.)
There is no doubt that Trump is handling this transition in a WHOLE other way than anyone else. Sabato noted too how Trump is using his phone to rock the boat prior to his taking the oath of office.
A “uniter” Trump most definitely will not be, to circle back to the statement made by Dr. Sabato above, and to move to the Federalist article by Rachel Lu. The title of her article really says it all: “Donald Trump Won’t Unite Us, And That’s Great News.”
That isn’t the sort of assertion you hear very often about Presidents, so this one definitely caught my eye. Here is the the point of Lu’s statement:
In one respect, though, I remain immovably pessimistic. It’s hard not to laugh when people enthuse that Trump might be the man to heal divisions in our country and unite our nation.
If this is just an empty platitude for a celebratory occasion, I’ll back off and let people have their moment. Otherwise, let’s stop this foolishness. Trump has shown precious little interest in uniting us. But even if he wanted to, it would be a completely unrealistic goal.
In retrospect, it seems obvious that those promises were either deluded or insincere. Still, they at least paid lip service to unity. Trump, by contrast, presented himself as a bruiser who would break things and punish the malefactors.
All of that is true. But here is the MAIN reason why Trump won’t be a uniter:
Trump’s disposition is a secondary issue, however. Realistically, no single person could “unify America” right now. We have a fractured society, and no magical elixir could heal it in just four years. By all means, let’s hope that the Trump administration does some good things! But let’s not kid ourselves. A national kumbaya moment is not in our near future.
The bottom line is that Americans are lonely, alienated, and looking for solidarity. But we’re also just really different from one another. It’s easy to understand why “uniting the nation” in a substantive-yet-harmonious Americanism would be an attractive dream. Realistically though, any serious attempt to do it will inevitably involve the pre-emptive exclusion of somebody else’s cherished dreams. That’s not going to create peace and harmony. Quite the opposite, in fact.(Click here to read the rest.)
And there you have it. NO ONE could unify this nation in just four years. So much has happened over the past eight years that there is no telling how long it will take to get us to be a more united nation.
And, we are a nation filled with people and groups who are different from each other. But we are similar in one big respect, as Lu notes – we are all Americans. Lu discusses that at length in her good piece, and I highly recommend reading the rest.