George W. Bush attempted to put Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court and pushed comprehensive immigration reform, “No Child Left Behind,” the General Motors Bailout, etc. I opposed all those, but never doubted President Bush’s integrity, character, or faith. Frankly, Trump does not have the character or strong Christian faith I prefer in a President. But he is positively angelic compared to his political opponents and the press. Between Trump and his opposition, I would rather vote for him, despite his flaws, than his opponents who want a flawless progressive utopia. Trump is neither an ambassador for my values nor the articulate champion of my principles I would prefer. But he is a safe harbor in a progressive storm that seeks to both destroy my values and upend our constitutional republic.
When people used to not have the dignity of work, they will be exceedingly hesitant to turn to options that will adversely affect that reality. With the economy growing 4-6% annually (which is possible by 2020,) and unemployment bouncing below 4%, along with the greatest number of workforce participants in two decades, people simply vote their pocketbook. Over the course of our history people’s economic realities have continued to be some of the most reliable indicators of electoral success. That he continues to push records and new thresholds of success for people vis-a-vie wages, vertical job opportunities, and exploding entrepreneurial environments there will be great hesitation to change horses midstream.
Honduran migrants climb a border fence, in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. Migrants broke down the gates at the border crossing and began streaming toward a bridge into Mexico. After arriving at the tall, yellow metal fence some clambered atop it and on U.S.-donated military jeeps. Young men began violently tugging on the barrier and finally succeeded in tearing it down. Oliver de Ros, AP
Shortly after taking office, Trump put Iran 'on notice' following their ballistic missile tests on January 29, 2017. In February 2018, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Iran's 25 individuals and entities, which it said were but "initial steps", with Trump's National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn adding that "the days of turning a blind eye to Iran's hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over."
The United States remains a vastly unequal country, with significant gaps between what men and women earn (gaps that grow wider for women of color); with revolting numbers of black men imprisoned, often for nonviolent crimes and often locked away in for-profit prisons where their incarceration monetarily benefits wealthy shareholders; with wholly inadequate or totally nonexistent social services that are the norm among our economic peer countries: paid parental leave, housing for the poor, affordable high-quality health care. The gulf between the richest and the poorest people in this country is getting larger.
For days, Trump had claimed that only Congress could nullify the policy. Shortly before boarding Air Force One for Duluth, however, the president had signed a hastily drafted executive order that effectively ended the family separations. “He was very unhappy,” the Republican who spoke with him recalled. “He was perturbed the immigration issue had gotten out of hand. He’s feeling that being president isn’t as fun as it should be. He thinks he’s not getting the credit he deserves about the economy and North Korea. He said, ‘These people around me don’t know how to sell.’ It’s why he’s going bananas on Twitter. His state of mind is frustration.”
And yet, in the 1980s, there were still limits to what needed to be said about America. Surveying the planet, you didn’t yet have to refer to us as the “greatest” country of all or as the planet’s sole truly “exceptional” country. Think of such repeated superlatives of our own moment as defensive markers on the declinist slope. The now commonplace adjective “indispensable” as a stand-in for American greatness globally, for instance, didn’t even arrive until Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, began using it in 1996. It only became an indispensable part of the rhetorical arsenal of American politicians, from President Obama on down, a decade-plus into the 21st century when the country’s eerie dispensability (unless you were a junkie for failed states and regional chaos) became ever more apparent.
Reagan, who spoke directly about American declinist thinking in his time—“Let’s reject the nonsense that America is doomed to decline”—was hardly shy about his superlatives when it came to this country. He didn’t hesitate to re-channel classic American rhetoric ranging from Winthop’s “shining city upon a hill” (perhaps cribbed from Kennedy) in his farewell address to Lincolnesque (“the last best hope of man on Earth”) invocations like “here in the heartland of America lives the hope of the world” or “in a world wracked by hatred, economic crisis, and political tension, America remains mankind’s best hope.”
Trump would eventually abandon dog whistles in favor of blunter race-baiting. What remains to be seen is whether he and the Republican establishment will continue flashing the “exceptionalism” signal in the post-Obama years—to paint new opponents as un-American—or whether that language was uniquely deployed to delegitimize the nation’s first black president. At the very least, it provided fertile ground for Trumpism.
Trump began acquiring and constructing golf courses in 1999; his first property was the Trump International Golf Club, West Palm Beach in Florida. By 2007, he owned four courses around the U.S. Following the financial crisis of 2007–2008, he began purchasing existing golf courses and re-designing them. His use of these courses during his presidency was controversial. Despite frequently criticizing his predecessor Barack Obama for his numerous golf outings, Trump golfed 11 times during his first eight weeks in office. According to CNN, Trump visited Trump-owned golf courses 91 times in 2017, although the White House does not disclose whether or not the president actually played on each of those visits.
The 2016 Republican presidential candidates and their surrogates sang the same tune. When Fox News pundit Sean Hannity asked Jeb Bush for his thoughts on exceptionalism, Bush replied, “I do believe in American exceptionalism,” unlike Obama, who “is disrespecting our history and the extraordinary nature of our country.” Rudy Giuliani was more explicit. “I do not believe that the president loves America,” he asserted, suggesting Obama did not think “we’re the most exceptional country in the world.” During a speech a month later in Selma, Alabama, the president pointed out that the ongoing fight for civil rights is a cornerstone of what makes America exceptional.
Although Trump's early campaign filing is extraordinarily unusual, aspects of a "permanent campaign" are not entirely unprecedented in American politics. Such a phenomenon had a presence in the White House at least as early as the presidency of Bill Clinton. Under the advice of Sidney Blumenthal, Clinton's staff continued to engage in campaign methodology once in office, using polling for assistance in making decisions.