We have a new president, and Republicans have control of Congress. The past 8 years of obstructing Obama (including his moderate Supreme Court nominee) have paid off. Our government has been afflicted by gridlock — that problem is over for at least the next two years. Now the “party of no” has to decide what to do with power. Here’s is what I am watching to see:
- Trump has said progressive things and conservative things and populist things and fascist things, sometimes in the same hour. He has held wildly opposed positions on nearly every issue, from immigration to abortion over the past 4 years. Only time and what he *does* will tell us what he is — I expect he continues to be a bit of everything.
- Which wing of the party takes power? Will Paul Ryan stay speaker? If so, does he stay a “Romney Republican” or does he change with the tide. What percent of the cabinet will be Trump loyalists, political outsiders, neocons, little C conservatives, competent moderates?
- It is easy to be in opposition. Now that they have power, they have no excuses (not that they won’t spin for some). For example, Obamacare was originally a conservative think tank policy. It insures millions of Americans directly and indirectly (medicare expansion, coverage for preexisting conditions, etc.). Repeal and replace is no longer a slogan, it’s a “to do” — what does Trump repace it with, and how do Republicans do it without hurting millions?
- The rule of law: Trump already promised to be a president to all Americans. However, he has also advocated things that are currently illegal (war crimes, torture, voter intimidation). Will he change laws? Will he break laws? Will he keep his promise to represent everyone? For example, during the election, federal courts kept smacking down partisan voter suppression efforts by. states controlled by the GOP (Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas). Will a Trump Attorney General / Justice Department pursue and protect the rights of voters? Also, will he appoint a special prosecutor to “Lock Her Up” despite the opinion of the FBI that there was nothing to prosecute?
- Conflict of Interests and Scandal Potential: Obama had a historically scandal free administration — they priortized hiring “no drama” staff who would move the chains forward. Just looking at Donald’s campaign advisors (Christie, Manafort, Ailes), that looks unlikely to continue. Also, as he governs, his policies will impact his businesses and his supporters’ businesses. If his cabinent is full of outsiders, the conflicts of interest will be compounded, even if he doesn’t descend into outright cronyism. Imagine if Obama owned shares of Solyndra — that kind of story will keep happening. I’m curious to see how the country and his administration react.
- Center of Attention: the press that has split attention between Trump and Clinton has only one camp to focus on. No more weeks of digging through leaked emails. The focus will be on Trump and the other Republican leaders. Their actions will be watched and criticized. They will be criticized for things out of their control, just because they are in power. How will they react to the spotlight. Will they be graceful or get angry, defensive, and vindictive?