(October 2, 2018 / JNS)
What many people don’t understand about President Donald Trump is that he is not a politician; he sees things as an investor. He asks a simple question: “Is this worth investing in?” His approach is determined by what every successful person in business uses: cost-benefit analysis.
From this perspective, he is the CEO of the largest, most powerful and most influential enterprise in the world: America. In the view of Professor Victor Davis Hanson, this explains why Trump opposes optional overseas interventions and alliances with known enemies of the United States. He picks his fights usually on the basis of whether he sees at least a 51 percent advantage, such as anti-American protests by NFL players and questionable investigations of his administration by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Few would quarrel with President Trump’s reversal of the Obama-Clinton foreign-policy disasters (e.g., Syria, Libya, Iran) and trade policies (e.g., NAFTA). Domestically, however, the issues are more complicated. Racism is a legitimate issue; racial politics is not. Free speech, debate and discussion are important Constitutionally protected rights; intimidation and violence are destructive. Protection of individual rights is critical; denial of those rights is anathema. Health care is vital; “Obamacare” is not. American values and the integrity of American institutions are part of our way of life and must be ensured.
President Trump describes himself as a conservative, although not a traditional one, and he doesn’t have a traditional political agenda; he has sense of purpose, but he isn’t limited by a narrow ideological perspective. A realist and savvy businessman, he is focused on a successful investment strategy. That’s why he decided to pull funds out of UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority; corrupt and inefficient, they are bad investments.
That’s why he pulled out of Obama’s deal with Iran, and it’s also why he is willing to work with unsavory leaders, such as those in Russia, China and North Korea. He wants to make a deal that will serve American interests. It’s “the art of the deal.” And that’s why, regardless of his personal life, he is/will be seen as a great leader.
President Trump has appointed an excellent team, including Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, senior adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grennel and many others. SCOTUS Justice Neil Gorsuch and Judge Brett Kavanaugh are eminently qualified.
He has endured a hostile press and hostile individuals in the FBI, Justice Department and even (apparently) in his own White House staff. Opposition seems to be focused on his personality and politics, not his policies.
“Never Trump” Republicans will never accept him because they cannot appreciate his accomplishments. They and anti-Trump Democrats will continue to oppose him out of a distorted self-righteousness and indignation that prevents any honest appraisal. Rational discourse has been replaced by calls for “impeachment.”
Worse, people associated with the Democratic Party have turned it into a cacophony of slogans, protests and empty rhetoric, as was apparent in the nomination hearings for Judge Kavanaugh. Despite disgraceful behavior by anti-Trump and anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators, some of whom may have been anarchists, Democratic committee members did not condemn the disrupters.
Anti-Trumpers don’t like his style or aspects of his personal life, but that could be said about many presidents and contenders for that office. They ignore, however, his record in office. Why do they oppose him now? And why have some of them abandoned the American tradition of civility and acceptance of someone who was democratically elected to lead? Why is he “dangerous,” as they believe? Why does their opposition descend into chaos?
“Never-Trumpers” don’t seem to understand that in attacking President Trump they are undermining their own party. Attacking an opposition party candidate is an American tradition, but attacking an elected representative without just cause is attacking America itself and what it stands for. And, perhaps, that is what some intend.
President Trump has changed American politics – arguably for the good. He has exposed the power of “the deep state,” “the swamp” and the complicity of the media in brainwashing with fake and/or misleading “news.” He takes nothing for granted, and neither should we.
Donald Trump has changed American politics by changing the game and its rules. After decades of stagnation and desperation, he has challenged conventional thinking and accepted categories. The crooked umpires are out and the entrance is free. The Republican political establishment is trying to hold on to an uninspired ideological conservatism. The Democratic Party is slowly moving towards a European-style socialism. Both are trying to respond to the challenges of a world that has been fundamentally changed by terrorism and technology.
It’s a “new world order,” whatever one thinks that means. It’s just the kind of play President Trump enjoys and has proven successful.
Moshe Dann, Ph.D., is a historian, writer and journalist living in Israel.