Vail Daily column: Let’s give The Donald a chance
November 13, 2016
Eight years ago, I wrote the following in a commentary: "…regardless of how one feels about the results of this election, patriotic Americans must give the new administration an unfettered opportunity to prove itself regardless of any individual disillusionment or disappointment." I went on to write, "It would be grossly unfair to pull the metaphorical rug out from under the President-elect before his administration has had the opportunity to prove itself."
In November 2008, President-elect Obama captured lightning in a bottle. His party had convincingly won both houses of Congress, he had an adoring electorate, young people were energized by his soaring rhetoric and many would have walked over hot coals for America's first black president.
Europe lionized him, the press was in the midst of love affair with him and he would soon be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Democratic strategist James Carville even wrote a book titled, "40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation." To say the wind was at the incoming president's back is an understatement and with that mandate, the president could write his own ticket.
In fairness, only time will determine the successfulness of any administration. And plenty of historians will write about President Obama's legacy and his place in history, but there is a shorthand method we can use right now to measure how effective his vision and his policies were in the eyes of the American people.
Since President Obama took office, the Democrats have lost 13 Senate seats and 69 house seats. Additionally, when Obama took office, the Democrats held almost 60 percent of the governorships in America; today the Republicans hold 32 governorships to the Democrats' 18. During that same period the Democratic Party has lost 910 seats in state legislatures across the country. These statistics don't scream endorsement of the president's policies.
As Charles Krauthammer recently opined, "When Obama is on the ticket the Democrats do well; when he's not, they don't." Hillary campaigned on a third Obama term and the democrats were shellacked. That said; President Obama still maintains an astonishingly high approval rating of about 53 percent.
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So what should this tell us? Reading political tea leaves is a dangerous proposition as the mainstream media just learned. Nonetheless, a strong argument can be made that it's Obama's personal popularity, his charm and charisma rather than his policies or his vision that have kept his approval ratings high.
So with the changing of the guard, what exactly did the voters tell Washington on Tuesday? It's a complex question with no simple answers, but it's also hard to argue with conservative columnist Victor David Hanson, who opined that many Americans see Donald Trump as the change agent who they want to a stop Obama's fundamental transformation of this country.
Hanson wrote, "If Obama's vision and policies had been successful, we would now be looking at a two-term Clinton presidency completing a 16-year institutionalization of serial progressive abuse of the Constitution, outdoing even the 12 years of the imperial Roosevelt administration. An emboldened Hillary would likely have seen her 2016 victory as a means to reify her Utopian dreams of a new intercontinental America of open borders and open markets."
But that didn't occur, and instead America elected a true maverick to occupy the Oval Office — he's not the conservative many Republicans had hoped for, but he's not the liberal to carry on the Obama legacy — quite the opposite, in fact.
Trump is a pragmatist, he's a businessman and while it's unlikely he doesn't have at least a few markers out there, basically what makes him different than any president in recent history is that he's not beholden to the special interests.
Whether we realize it or not, what occurred on Election Day was seismic in nature. With control of the Congress and the ability to appoint Supreme Court Justices, President-elect Donald J. Trump finds himself in a very similar situation Barack Obama did eight years ago.
For the good of the nation, what's needed now is acceptance and well wishes. And to the really hard-core detractors, let me suggest that you look at Trump's actions rather than at the many nonsensical things he said or was supposed to have said, especially early during the campaign. Trump, like Hillary, Bernie, Jeb and all the others, said what they thought their constituents wanted to hear — that's politics.
Americans now need to heed the words of President Obama who said the day after the election, "We're not Democrats first. We're not Republicans first. We're Americans first. We're patriots first. And we all want what's best for this country. That's what I heard in Mr. Trump's remarks last night and that's what I hear when I spoke with him directly."
Obama's 2008 landslide was historic, but Trump's victory was seismic. And with all the levers of power at his disposal, if Trump fails to successfully address the many problems besetting our nation, you can rest assured that in four years Americans will find for someone else who will.
Quote of the day: "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."—Thomas Jefferson.
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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