The presidential election is finally over, and Trump won “to everybody’s surprise,” – except, of course, for The Canary, who predicted this outcome in these pages. Correctly perceiving the mood of the country, allowed this blog to be so uniquely accurate in foreshadowing various aspects of the election outcome, while practically all other media convinced themselves of a Clinton victory. We not only predicted Trump’s victory but also correctly noted that almost all major opinion polls missed approximately four to five percentage points of undeclared Trump voters. Only the Los Angeles Times poll in our opinion correctly assessed Trump’s chances by following the same group of people longitudinally, rather than querying in every poll a new group of individuals, as all other organizations did. Promptly, this poll persistently reported Trump a few points ahead of Hillary Clinton, and, on election day, as we had predicted, turned out to be most precise.
It has been revealing to observe excuses from TV networks and major print media for “getting it all wrong.” Like after the last U.K election and Brexit, and the 2012 U.S. elections, pollsters were presented as the main culprits for mistaken outcome predictions. Astonishing is, however, the almost complete absence of self-critique in the media (Jim Rutenberg in The New York Times being a laudable exception), considering abandoned pretexts for any form of objectivity by the media during this election cycle. Practically without exception reporting on the inevitability of a Clinton victory, the media to previously unseen degrees revealed their political biases but also the echo-chambers they are living in. Simply too lazy to pursue independent research, the third estate has become one gigantic liberal propaganda machine, so convinced of the truth of its message that truth of facts no longer matters.
We, thus, in this election season witnessed the total collapse of objective reporting and analysis and, therefore, of traditional journalism. No wonder Trump succeeded despite almost uniform, at times vicious, opposition from most media. Nobody any longer believes what one hears on TV or reads in the newspaper.
So, where are we going from here?
After the election had been decided, everybody, including Trump, Clinton and even President Obama, in good U.S. tradition called for unity and cooperation between winners and losers; but that is easier said than done. Trump now faces a multitude of crucially important decisions, with little time to make them. A still unusually small pool of senior advisers and limited transition efforts so far, limited control over some traditional Republican Party leaders, and now a split Democratic Party don’t make things easier. Also it appears unlikely that Trump will get much of a honeymoon from the opposition and most of the media. Listening to how CNN, for examples, covers the anti-Trump demonstrations all around the country, mostly, as openly acknowledged, organized by MoveOn.org (a propaganda arm associated with the Democratic Party), clearly demonstrates that the major national media organizations will continue unabated in their Trump-bashing. Time, therefore, is short, and important decisions will have to be made quickly.
Those involve not only the traditional transition process between administrations and the selection of his administration’s leadership. Even more importantly, Trump needs to set priorities for which topics he wishes to address in his first 100 days in office. The (during the election campaign) published list of items is too long to be realistic. What he decides to tackle in those first 100 days will, likely, represent most of his agenda for the first two years. Based on historical precedents, those two years offer his best chances of passing major legislative changes because in mid-term elections the ruling party usually loses seats, not infrequently changing majorities in House and/or Senate.
Having at least theoretical (party) control of both houses for the next two years offers great opportunities for Trump. The first Obama administration, however, well demonstrated how such an opportunity can be squandered: By concentrating almost exclusively on Obamacare, a highly divisive issue, President Obama missed the opportunity to pass many other important initiatives and laws. Moreover, because Obamacare was pushed through Congress without even a single Republican vote, it caused a highly divisive and contentious working relationship with the Republican opposition for the rest of both of his administrations. Though strongly obliged to pass the agenda he promised, Trump would be well advised to learn from President Obama’s mistakes, and pursue maximal efforts not to lose his congressional majorities in the next mid-term elections in two years, which means that he has to be able show significant progress in as many as possible critical areas within 18 to 24 months after inauguration.
In every campaign more promises are made than can ever be kept but not all promises are equal. Some are “principal,” while others, based on surrounding circumstances, have to be viewed as “conditional.” For example, any major reform of Obamacare should be viewed as “conditional” because, whatever the solution, it will be complex and should include at least some participation of the opposition party. Similar considerations also apply to the promised repeal of Obama’s Iran deal. Spending too much limited available time in the first 100 days on such issues, therefore, would only repeat Obama’s mistake. The issues that should be tackled are those of great importance, yet with quick solutions, either because they address bipartisan issues or because they can be quickly resolved. A good example is changes in tax laws, which would induce repatriation of trillions of corporate funds from overseas. As promised, items like Obamacare and the Iran deal, therefore, should be at the top of Trump’s to-do list but not at the very top. “Conditional” promises require careful deliberations and “best” solutions, which takes time.
“Draining the swamp” was a popular promise Trump made, referring to term-limits and government corruption. We consider this an essential promise to the public because it would demonstrate a real break with the way how Washington’s “new (government) aristocracy” (which we in detail defined in a prior blog) has been doing business. This was a principal target of the electorate’s anger in the election of Trump. Pursuing government corruption aggressively, though fairly, wherever it will lead, is, therefore, in our opinion an absolutely essential effort, though should also be pursued deliberately and not necessarily play a major role in Trump’s first 100 days.
An administration that can demonstrate satisfactory progress at mid-term elections then will have the opportunity to ask the electorate for continuous control of both houses, and may even receive it. To maintain such control for another two years, therefore, requires astute time management in the first two years of the administration but is absolutely essential if Trump wants to become a consequential president in one term, which at age 70 must be on his mind.