The remarkable Donald Trump and the rise of an exceptional presidency
WASHINGTON: History will note that a major event occurred in America in 2016: the stunning election of the remarkable Donald Trump as this country’s next president. Trump’s election as U.S. president, universally regarded as a political earthquake, was an event that significantly altered the course of the country and the world.
This exceptional presidency occurred at a time when the United States was mired in the final year of a 10-year economic slump. An extraordinary slump was the only recorded 10-year period in American history where the U.S. economy failed to achieve an annual 3% growth in any year since George Washington took the oath of office as this country’s first President. (The economic expansion is poised to be the longest ever. Will it die or get a second wind?
From 2007 to 2016 economic growth averaged about 2% under former President Obama.
That subpar growth rate led to dramatically fewer employment opportunities for Americans. In turn, that led to stagnant or severely reduced wages. American workers could no longer advance in their professions. If indeed they were able to remain employed. Worse, many Americans had absolutely no opportunities whatsoever. Leading to deep resentment and chronic unemployment and underemployment. (The economic expansion is poised to be the longest ever. Will it die or get a second wind?)
Wary Americans began to question and even reject the Capitalism that has long defined the American economic system. Embittered, they increasingly claimed to favor Socialism. The country was headed in a shockingly un-American direction.
The world in chaos under the Obama Administration
On the world stage, numerous serious threats were developing. The usual parade of problems erupting in the volatile Middle East. Russia and China rapidly building up armaments and aggression. North Korea engaged in increasingly provocative displays of dangerous nuclear saber rattling.
America’s foreign policy response to these building provocations: the “stand down” the predictable U.S. response to nearly every conflict or threat.
Consistently weak responses and weak public positions emboldened enemies and enemies alike.
These “soft failures” led the American people to feel increasingly, painfully insecure. The response of many U.S. citizens was a desire to value personal, collective security above freedom. The result? They wanted more government willing to provide healthcare, higher education, basic income and even underwriting housing costs.
Of course, the government would obtain the funds to accomplish this by substantially increasing the tax burden on hard-working income earners, particularly those in the vanishing middle-class.
Tax-and-spend makes things worse
If fully implemented, the resulting tax-and-spend government solutions promoted by President Obama would permanently slow economic growth. (The Obama Budget: Spending, Taxes, and Doubling the National Debt)
Indeed, early implementations of socialist policies in the U.S. were starting to do precisely this. And for a very simple reason. All income transfer programs take income away from those who earn it. Then, the government gives that hard-earned money to the people who, for whatever reason, have not earned it.
That means income earners have less incentive to earn.
Likewise, income receivers have no incentive to earn, either. For them, there really is such a thing as a free lunch.
Inevitably, both groups would gradually contribute less and less to the American economy. That, in turn, began to slow economic growth. It’s clear that Federal taxing and spending habits and the government’s attitude toward increased social responsibility required a drastic change in direction.
The remarkable Donald Trump unexpectedly changes everything
Donald, with Melania, Trump descending down an escalator at Trump Tower, NYC, told the world he would be the next President of the United States.
Trump was already well-known as a highly successful businessman, real estate developer and controversial TV personality. Against all odds, and in the face of constant media opposition, he was elected. Even though he had never before entered the political arena. But Trump’s message of freedom and prosperity was welcomed by many Americans who had begun to give up on the American way of life and prosperity.
And it was not a spur of the moment decision. It was actually decades in the making.
Trump’s prescription for America? What do you have to lose?
Running for President, Trump simply told people to look in the mirror. He asked them to see where they were in 2016. And what they had, and whether they felt they were in jeopardy.
He then challenged them to vote for him. He urged them to either change their usual voting habits. Or, perhaps, to go to the polls for the very first time in their lives. “What do you have to lose?” he asked.
Many Americans saw they had little to show for the last 8 years. To all of those who were bitterly disappointed in the sinking trajectory of their lives, he promised he would “Make America Great Again.” For them. And their struggling families.
He emphasized America needed to return to its historic economic vigor. He said the country needed to re-learn its winning ways in order to return to prosperity. His vision was always clear to all. Unfortunately, his unpolished and politically incorrect communication skills often got in the way of his message, providing an opening for the powerful Trump opposition to make things extremely difficult for this ultimately successful GOP presidential candidate.
Donald Trump won the 2016 election in spite of them.
His would prove an exceptional presidency.
No collusion or obstruction
Although he actually did nothing criminal or illegal during his campaign, Trump’s nattering opposition began to perpetuate a colossal fraud. A coup leading to nearly two years of a controversial and ultimately futile investigation of the Trump campaign. The digging for any dirt to prove Trump colluded with the Russian government to swing the election. It was conducted by a special prosecutor Robert Mueller. Mueller and his pro-Democrat staff of attorneys, many of whom had monetarily supported Hillary Clinton.
Nonetheless, the prosecution team ultimately found the president did not collude with any foreign government. Nor was he guilty of any other charges. Still, even today, Trump continues to live with the constant negative media and Democrat barrage to convict him of a crime. Any crime.
That he has managed to survive this is another mark of his exceptional presidency.
Trump also had to deal with the Federal Reserve, which blindly raised interest rates 8 times between his election and the end of 2018. Even though rates remained at historic lows, the rapidly rising rates began to stifle the intensively stimulative effects of Trump’s low-tax regime. This tended to slow the robust economic growth that Trump had helped create, which worked to negate its positive effects.
Trump’s exceptional presidency
In spite of all of this, Trump’s accomplishments have already made his an exceptional presidency. That’s particularly true because he put them in place in such a short time and under such extreme establishment opposition.
Trump’s first priority was to increase economic growth to at least a 3% annual rate and eventually higher. He knew he couldn’t pass legislation quickly through a recalcitrant Congress. But he could eliminate thousands of counter-productive and growth-stifling regulations.
Which is what he did.
Thus, after just two months in office, Trump presided over an economy that had started to grow at 3%. It maintains that rate today, despite a generally oppositional Congress and despite the Federal Reserve. That’s because, in late 2017, Trump convinces Congress to cut taxes for all Americans. Not just “the rich” as the Democrats and their media allies complained. The middle class, as well as the highest income earners and corporations, did benefit.
As did the poor.
American businesses once awakened began to expand once again. Therefore, those businesses also began to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, even for America’s long-languishing poor.
A rising tide raises all ships
Increased demand from consumers means increasing supply from business. The result was sustained 3% growth, record low unemployment, higher wages, low inflation and more opportunity for all. Something the previous administration claimed would never happen again.
A robust, aggressive foreign economic policy
On foreign policy, Trump is taking a much tougher stance. His aggressive “peace through strength” philosophy is working. Although there are risks when Trump gets tough with things like tariffs and sanctions, the results so far have been positive. After reacting negatively to Trump’s impositions of these aggressive but arguably necessary measures, other countries eventually respond with policies that will help improve their, and the American, position. After all, most of them had been imposing tariffs on the U.S. for decades themselves, for precisely the same reason.
Trump had the courage and fortitude to point this out, turning this situation around.
The ultimate end game
Eventually, Trump hopes he can lift all sanctions and eliminate all tariffs around the world. But he can only accomplish this if our trading partners do likewise and remain lawful in matters of international trade. In the meantime, Trump’s tariffs are pressuring unlawful and uncooperative countries.
And his sanctions on truly bad actors like Iran are crippling this and other aggressive, unlawful countries.
Someday in the future, history will note that Donald Trump was a most formidable and effective president. That he was the remarkable President Trump. This despite roughly 90% of print and broadcast media coverage consistently opposing him. In spite of every Democrat and even some Republicans consistently attempting to thwart Trump’s policies. Trump has dramatically managed to change the direction of the country in less than three short years.
He is moving America back toward this country’s longstanding tradition of individual freedom, individual responsibility, lower taxation, and a smaller Federal government. Those are the same principles that allowed our country’s robust economy to grow dramatically from the day of its birth to today, becoming the largest economy in the world in less than 150 years.
The remarkable Donald Trump presides today over what history will eventually come to regard as a most exceptional presidency.
— Headline image: The triumph of the remarkable Donald Trump and his exceptional presidency. Cartoon by Branco, reproduced with permission and by arrangement with Comically Incorrect.