What’s ahead for the Trump presidency?
The genius of our system of government is that we can experience the most divisive of elections, and then have an orderly transition to the next presidential administration. That will occur when President Barack Obama hands over the keys to our national government to the 45th president, Donald J. Trump.
In a stunning defeat of the political status quo, Trump used an unconventional campaign to tap into voter discontent with Washington, D.C., the loss of middle-class jobs and a longing for the good old days. But Trump likely will find that governing is a lot more difficult than making promises on the campaign trail.
Trump and the Republicans in the House and Senate almost certainly will repeal the Affordable Care Act, move swiftly to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left when Antonin Scalia died in February, and attack existing trade deals.
Trump purportedly represents “change,” whatever that means. And he did tap into real and perceived grievances. Many Americans, especially white working-class men, are concerned that the recovery has passed them by, and that the increasingly global economy is stacked against them. There is fury with the establishment, whether it’s Washington, D.C., or Wall Street or the media.
The same sentiment that led voters in the United Kingdom to exit from the European Union washed over our shores. Many in our electorate, like the Brits, lashed out at globalism and free-trade agreements, the currency of today’s economy.
Trump tapped into poison that already courses through the body politic. From his first campaign speech, he insulted Americans who didn’t look like him, or whom he regarded as weaker. Those views were intoxicating to more than we knew. Or voters overlooked his most off-color comments, hoping that a strongman could restore what they see as their fading hopes.
California was a bulwark against Trumpism. Trump offered no message for the Golden State and all but ignored it during his campaign.
In a state of immigrants that prides itself on its diversity, Trump derided Muslims and Latinos.
In a state that relies on trade to drive its economy, he offered narrow protectionist policy.
In a state that has led the way in the fight against climate change, Trump denies global warming exists and even said there is no drought.
But California stands apart from the states that brought him victory in the Electoral College.
Trump promised to kick down doors and change Washington’s ways. But he also must reach out to the people he insulted, the Muslims, Latinos and women, and in whatever way he can, make clear that they are welcome in his world. He must show the grace he failed to display during the campaign.
To have any hope of governing successfully, Trump must find it within himself to be president of the entire nation.