Trump is looking like a pragmatic President, and that could be just what America needs.
It looks like Trump’s positions on a lot of things are softening. Especially some of the most controversial topics.
To me, it points to what kind of President Trump will be… and that might be just the President America needs.
Trump’s win was definitive. He won the Presidency but Republicans also won both houses.
It was a rout.
It Trump was truly the unhinged demagogue that his critics painted him to be, he’d be having the time of his life. With Democrats bent over the couch, he’d be pumping the White House full of whatever crazy, half-baked legislation came to mind.
He’s not limited by what’s politically achievable. He can do anything.
But we’re not seeing Trump gloat or announce plans for a 4th Reich. In fact, we’re seeing just the opposite. In a lot of areas, he’s throwing his opponents a bone.
For example, he’s backed away from campaign promises to prosecute Hilary Clinton and “lock her up”.
He’s also softened his position on torture as a means of getting information out of prisoners. After a chat with General Mattis, he said he now thinks there are better ways.
And on climate change – an area where much of his base are in firm denial – he has said he’s looking at it closely but “keeping an open mind.”
And for a supposed misogynist, he’s nominated a lot of women for prominent roles.
Of course for some people, none of this is good enough. This is Trump just being deceitful, and softening us up before he unleashes the full-horror of his hard-line agenda.
But to hold to that line of thinking, you’ve got to look past what Trump is actually saying and doing right now, to what you imagine his actual thoughts and intentions are.
(Just quietly, it’s probably in your head.)
For me, I think it points to two possibilities, both of which are a positive for America.
The first is that Trump is just a pragmatic deal-maker. He knows that some of the extreme opinions in his camp were never going to fly, and to get really great things done, you need to bring people together.
So this softening is about opening the door. Saying, look, I know we had some differences, but let’s work together.
That’s a good thing.
However the other options is that Trump is going to China.
Back when Nixon was elected President in the 70s, he campaigned on taking a very hard-line with China – no engagement, no concessions.
It was very popular with his base. However, when he came to power, he then went to China, and started to patch things up.
But people weren’t disappointed in him. Because he had taken such a hard line people trusted him, and supported his mission.
I think Trump may be working to a similar play-book.
Take climate change. This issue’s has become totally stuck in the US. If Clinton had won, republicans would have fought her efforts on climate change tooth and nail. Their base would have demanded it.
The only way out I can see is for someone like Trump to take up the issue – to go to China and pull the right more towards the centre.
From gun control to trade, there’s a lot of “China”-like issues in America right now.
A pragmatic President with a capacity to move his base – and Trump is nothing if not persuasive – has the potential to achieve a great deal.
Potent times for America.
Is Trump actually a ‘uniter’?