What Will Trump Do? – Huffington Post
Commentary on the U.S. elections has shifted from postmortems to predictions; from how did Donald Trump win, to what will he do now that he has won. Projecting what any president-elect will do is often a fool’s errand and in Trump’s case is made even more difficult by the fact that it’s not at all certain that he knows what he’ll do.
Running a government is different than running for office. Campaigning is, at least on one important level, an individual sport. A candidate can go out and say whatever works for an adoring audience. Governing, on the other hand, requires a competent and compliant team effort and the ability to manage or adapt to many competing social and political realities. As a result, turning promises into policy often involves messy compromise.
It already appears that the president-elect is tempering or even walking back from many of the positions he articulated during the campaign. Remember the “big beautiful wall that Mexico will pay for”? Well, it now appears that it won’t exactly be a “wall,” but very tough security at the border — and Mexico won’t be paying for it after all. And not all eleven million undocumented immigrants will be rounded up and deported, only the two to three million who have criminal records — something President Obama has already been doing. Similarly, after being briefed on the provisions of “Obamacare,” Trump now appears to have concluded that, instead of scraping the whole thing, there are some good aspects of the legislation that should be protected with improvements being made to make health care more affordable. It even appears that he is approaching the once reviled the “Iran Deal” a bit more cautiously, suggesting that instead of tearing it up, he may opt for more strenuous enforcement.
The reality is that far from being the captain of the team, a president is often the captive of his team and of the world, as he finds it.
In the first instance, the president must rely of the information he receives from those who he has appointed, just as he is dependent on their ability to execute his directives. That is why it is important to see who Trump appoints to sensitive administrative posts. While all we know about the President-elect’s views are his top-of-mind pronouncements designed to elicit cheers at campaign rallies, his early roster of key staff appointments can provide some indication as to the direction his Administration may take on important issues. The fact that many are hardline ideologues is cause for concern.
The other factor that must be considered are the social and political realities that set the stage for the new president. While presidents set agendas for their administration, they are often judged not by how well they do in accomplishing the agenda they set, but in how effective they have been in responding to the agenda the world sets for them.
Remember the ambitious Middle East program laid out by President Obama in his historic Cairo Speech. It was undone by an obstructionist Congress, an incorrigible hardline Israeli leader, and the unforeseen consequences of the “Arab Spring.”
While the president-elect has cryptically hinted that he seeks to cooperate with Russia in ending the conflict in Syria, his success depends on whether Congress will, in fact, work with him (some Republicans have already made it clear that they will not be supportive); whether or not Russia’s interests, in fact, align with those of the U.S. (it appears that in anticipation of a more compliant Trump, the Russians are taking advantage by becoming even more aggressive in Syria); whether Iran will allow Russia to control their agenda; and whether Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other regional partners will agree, as well.