If you are wondering why each day seems to bring a new and
sensational political headline, it’s because this is what
happens when the political environment is disrupted
When there were transitions to Presidents George H.W. Bush,
Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and even Barack Obama, there
changes in style, some ideology, and their casts of characters,
but not since Ronald Reagan replaced Jimmy Carter have we
seen so much abrupt change, so unexpectedly, and overseen by
such an unorthodox figure.
Change is always resisted, and sometimes it doesn’t take hold.
President Obama’s healthcare reform ultimately didn’t make it,
nor apparently does it seem that most of his foreign policies
will survive. We need to remember that, as Mr. Trump was in
2016, Mr. Obama was in 2008 the surprise winner of his party’s
It has been 36 years since Mr. Reagan took office, so it is quite
understandable that younger Americans would not remember
the tumult that greeted his landslide victory over an incumbent
president --- and that most older Americans would forget the
circumstances. I am not saying that Presidents Reagan and
Trump are alike in either their personalities nor in their specific
political circumstances, but I am reminding that each were
change agents greeted with much name-calling and resistance.
History now tells us that the Reagan “revolution” did mostly
succeed, both in changing domestic economic and tax policy,
and in altering our approach in the Cold War. At this early
point, there is no way to know with any certainty that the
Trump “revolution” will succeed or fail, but a transformation
it does clearly intend to be.
For this reason, the reader, regardless of whether they like
Mr. Trump or not, whether they like his policies or not,
should expect a great deal more of what we have already
seen in the first six weeks of his presidency.
Some matters are new since 1981. The establishment print
and broadcast media no longer dominate the public
communications scene. Computers, social media, cable
and radio talk shows now have larger audiences, and reach
more persons. As I have previously mentioned, President
Franklin Roosevelt, facing a mostly hostile media, made a
successful end run around that media through fireside chats
and innovative press conferences --- and spoke directly to his
political base. President Trump, both as a candidate, and now
as president, has achieved the same end run through Twitter.
There is zero chance, I think, he will abandon his tweets as
long as they work so well for his supporters.
Before 1981, the previous great political transformation had
taken place almost half a century earlier. The economy of
1933 had been in an historic recession.World trade was a tiny
fraction of what it is today. The quality of medicine and the
life expectancy of most individuals was dramatically less
than what it is now. Thus, voters in early 1981 were, as they
are now, surprised and upset by the turmoil in the early days
of the new transition.
So my counsel to all is be prepared for more of the same
(of what we are witnessing now). President Donald Trump
continues to be underestimated, and one of the reasons for
this is that his political opponents are paying too much
attention to what he says, and not to what he does.
Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.