Thursday, December 1, 2016

We’ve Never Known Less About An Incoming President’s Ideology

Most presidents enter the White House with a raft of policy proposals and a clear ideological bent. Ronald Reagan was a hard-core conservative. Bill Clinton was a centrist Democrat. President Obama was a left-of-center mainstream Democrat. Voters had an idea not only of the policies newly elected presidents wanted to enact but also of the ideological values that would guide unforeseen decisions.
Trying to figure out President-elect Donald Trump’s ideology, on the other hand, is like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. He released few detailed policy positions during the campaign, and his actions and statements in the few weeks since the election have been anything but clarifying. We probably know less about what the Trump administration will be like than any incoming administration in modern American history. Trump could end up being one of the most moderate presidents in a generation, or he could be one of the most extreme. He might be both.
First, let’s look at the more qualitative evidence — namely, Trump’s actions since winning. Although Trump is probably best known as an immigration hard-liner, he’s rarely spoken about the issue since Election Day. In his victory speech, for instance, he didn’t mention immigration at all. In fact, he didn’t promote any typically conservative policies. The only policy he highlighted was a traditionally Democratic one, infrastructure, saying he would “rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals.” He has since released a YouTube video laying out what he wants to do on his first day in office. He could have been confused for a Bernie Sanders-style Democrat in it (well, almost). Trump said he would focus on creating jobs, ending America’s commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and imposing a ban on lobbyists. About the only traditionally Republican stance he took was against restrictions on “shale energy and clean coal.” Once again, Trump made no mention of immigration or his position on a Muslim registry, which he previously supported.
Read the rest from FiveThirtyEight HERE.

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