Donald Trump has opened an unprecedented dialogue, articulating problems which concern most and offering solutions which excite many. In his world, he will make Mexico pay for a wall on the border, deport 11 million illegals, stop all Muslims from entering the country, blast ISIS off the face of the Earth, eliminate waste in government, eliminate political correctness which has gone too far, etc. Each solution is simple. Just do it.
Can Trump translate his success as a businessman to running our government? As an executive in charge of his empire, Trump is all-powerful in making decisions and giving directions to staff to carry out. Few dare to disagree, because the boss is the boss. As he loves to say on reality TV, “you’re fired!” End of discussion. He has absolute and final power. But government is ruled by laws passed by Congress, decisions from the Supreme Court, and civil service regulations? Is he ready for a constitutional environment where the three branches intentionally act to limit and balance the power of each other?
As president, he will have great powers, but they will not be absolute and final. Take just one of his promises, deporting 11 million illegals. To deliver, he must petition congress for money to round up illegals, temporarily house them in transit, and transport them to the border. Deporting eleven million people is the equivalent of forcefully ejecting from the U.S. every man, woman, and child living in New York City and Chicago. This is massive. Concurrently, he needs funding to police the “no Muslim” rule and to blast ISIS off the face of the earth. And he needs lawyers and investigators to chase down and eliminate corruption in government.
Think about it. He must work effectively with congress to deliver his promises. But with his flamboyant, insulting nature, he has alienated himself with both parties, already sharply divided. For instance, one key leader in the process is John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. This is the same “not a hero” McCain who Trump dismissed since he only likes people who were not captured. (Side note: military personnel who were captured placed their lives on the line taking the battle to the enemy. Trump did not serve, thus was one of those not captured)
Covering these new expenditures is a big question. In the debates in 2008, Obama promised he would pay for his proposed programs by immediately ending the war in Afghanistan, which was costing the government $85 billion a year. Simple, just end the war. But Obama did not end the war when promised. Ironically, his administration has spent more on the Afghanistan war than Bush’s administration did. Not so simple, after all.
Now, Trump promises to pay for his programs by eliminating waste in government. There is no question that will eventually save a lot of money. But that effort requires legislation to break contracts or overturn previous appropriations. It will require new managers to replace non-performers. And it requires investigators and lawyers to ferret out people taking advantage of the government. It can be done, but it will take years. As Trump needs money immediately, this is not a simple solution.
Some say Trump will start acting more presidential now that he has a big lead. Becoming more presidential will mean he cannot be as outrageous and colorful as he is now, which is the very reason many like him so much. We will then have to decide which role is real and which one is for show. Is being presidential his real persona or an act? If it is not an act, then his current outlandish behavior is an act. Which Trump is real?
Has Trump excited many with his “straight forward” approach? Yes. Has Trump touched a nerve in the voters who fantasize about his simple solutions? Yes. Can Trump deliver these fantasies? Doubtful.
Robert Waid is a resident of Princeville.