America's first post-truth president will be sworn in as the Nation's 45th chief executive at noon eastern time on January 20. Just exactly what will happen after that seems so far to be unclear, including to his inner circle and supporters. Trump marches to his own tune. One thing for sure, though, is that the man who has pledged to "Make America Great Again" will be making the Trump brand even greater.
While Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes in November's election, he did win the votes necessary to secure the electoral delegates needed to become president. He was propelled by a large group of Americans who are fed up with Washington politics because for decades they have been left behind. They had listened and believed all the past promises from red and blue politicians, only to be pushed back into the dark background when the contest was completed. They were taken for granted again and again.
Many Trump voters came from aggrieved members of the working class who have seen technology and globalization rip their livelihood and self-respect from their soul. Politicians who busily courted special interests to perpetuate their positions in government regularly ignored their plaintive cries. For some, Bernie Sanders seemed to be an authentic alternative to the status quo. But when he was pushed aside by the Democratic political establishment, many of his supporters found Trump appealing.
To many Americans Washington needed a wake up call. Washington needed to be shaken up. It was time for a new reality, even if it was a post-truth reality. The aggrieved turned to a loud, boisterous, politically incorrect, mendacious, prevaricating entertainer-real estate mogul. Trump appealed to their emotions rather than their minds. They heard what they wanted to hear, and Trump was their champion.
A recent PPP national poll found that 67% of Trump voters believe unemployment increased during the Obama presidency, when in fact it sharply declined. Only 41% of Trump voters say the stock market went up during the Obama administration, meaning most don't know that the market has almost tripled over the past eight years. And 60% of Trump voters believe Hillary Clinton received millions illegal votes, a lie that Trump has repeated several times since the election.
But does the truth really matter to these aggrieved voters? Many don't believe that Trump will build a huge wall from one end of the Mexican-U.S. border to the other. Many don't believe that Mexico will pay for the wall. They certainly don't believe that Trump will deport all 11 million people who are living in this country illegally. They certainly don't believe he will ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. They certainly don't believe Trump saw thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey when New York's World Trade Center was attacked. They know it was a lie. They certainly don't believe that Trump will bring back millions of manufacturing jobs as he has promised.
What do they believe? They believe Trump will "drain the swamp" of politicians and bring an end to business as usual. They believe Trump has their backs, that he hears their voices, that he will make their lives better. They have given the president-elect a pass on releasing his federal tax returns. They have given him a pass on eliminating his many conflicts of interest. They don't care if he produces a reality television show while in office. They don't care that he attacks the press, evades serious questions, and regularly communicates via Twitter at all hours of the night.
Some have noted that Trump has appointed wealthy bankers, experienced politicians and retired generals to serve in his administration. While this seems to contradict his promise to drain the swamp, so far they are giving him the benefit of a doubt. The fact that Trump and some of his appointees are close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a ruthless and corrupt leader who views America as the enemy, seems not to have resonated with the president elect's supporters. So much for Ronald Reagan's evil empire!
Soon Trump will be confronted with the full weight of the responsibilities that fall upon the shoulders of America's president. He will actually have to make decisions. Will he gradually replace the existing Medicare program, as the Republican platform proposes, with a defined contribution program where seniors will be provided a fixed amount of money to purchase private health insurance of their own? Will he repeal Obamacare and leave millions of Americans without healthcare? Will he push to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion? Will he go ahead with the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline? He said he would make a decision soon after taking office.
How will President-elect Trump deal with President Putin? Will he move to ease sanctions on Russia for its occupation of Crimea? Will he impose import tariffs on Chinese products, even if it means higher prices in the U.S., and leads to the cancellation of contracts for Boeing aircraft and other U.S. products? Will he send U.S. troops into Syria? Will he implement his secret plan to eliminate ISIS?
According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, a majority of Americans are either uncertain or pessimistic about his presidency. The country that he has vowed to unify remains deeply divided. For sure, Trump's presidential campaign was unconventional, but he made many enemies, including within the Republican Party. So Trump make think all the world's a stage, and that he can bully and bluster his way through his daily challenges. However, he will soon find out that the presidency is not just a television show.
Thomas Jefferson once said, "No man will ever carry out of the Presidency the reputation which carried him into it." Let's hope so, because America’s future is at stake, and all the world will be watching.