Today, Donald Trump will be sworn in as America’s 45th president. He enters office under a cloud, a huge cloud, a cloud like no one has ever seen before. Believe me.
His approval rating has dropped to around 37% (according to Fox News), unprecedentedly low for an incoming president. For Obama in 2009, it was 80%, more than twice that of Trump.
Trump lost the popular vote by three million, and still became president, which might be a bit difficult to understand for folks in Finland, where one vote equals one vote.
He won the Electoral College by 77 votes (34 over the 270 required to win). He likes to claim this as an historic landslide, despite the fact that Obama won the College by a margin almost three times higher (95 votes). Bill Clinton’s was even higher.
Trump also won after a divisive campaign that included allegations of interference by Russian-sponsored actors. There are reports this week that three of his associates are under investigation by the FBI for inappropriate dealings with the Russian government during the campaign. There may still several shoes to drop before this over.
Winning by the thinnest of margins, Trump is now pushing the most ideological agenda we have seen in since Reagan, who truly did win by a landslide. No matter how you look at it, Trump won with support of only half the country who bothered to vote, yet he’s happy to pretend he has a mandate to ignore the other half (plus some 3,000,000) who voted differently.
The GOP Congress, encouraged by having a nominal Republican in the White House, is preparing to tick off some items on a long-held conservative wish list. Two such items, selling off public lands and dismantling the National Endowment for the Arts, are just two of the most recently reported actions Congress is gearing up for, with the assurance that Trump will sign whatever congressional Republicans want.
I have my doubts that Trump really cares about much of what the Republican Congress has in mind for America, other than repealing Obamacare, building a wall, and perhaps sparking a trade war in the name of “bringing back jobs”. The rest he could care less about.
I suspect he’s made a bargain, if you will a “deal”, with Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell that they can “run things”, pass the laws they want and he’ll sign them. In return, he gets to bask in the glory of being THE PRESIDENT. The alpha male. The Boss.
I’m not happy about any of this. Trump will be president. Sadly, a perfectly legitimate president. I don’t see any reason to doubt he was duly elected, though I do think the FBI and the Russians contributed to his success.
While he may be legitimately elected, you have to wonder how long this erratic, ignorant, entitled, bully will remain in office. There may be grounds already to impeach him, if the Republican Congress so wished to do so, if at some point he becomes a liability or outlives his usefulness. Or, maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part.
In the meantime, I have no choice but to recognize that he’s becoming president today. A legitimate one, which is a courtesy Trump refused to extend to the 44th president for nearly a decade. Trump will be president, but don’t ask me to celebrate it.