Donald Trump has already won one metric as president: he is the fastest president of the United States to have an unfavorable rating. It’s not a surprise, at least mathematically. Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote by 2.8 million votes. Now, she lost the election on account of that pesky Electoral College, but still that is a popular majority. So it is not difficult to see why his unfavorability rating would be so low. But I, for one, expected Donald Trump’s administration to have at least a semblance of a game plan coming into the White House.
Instead of this game plan, the United States has seen a failed executive order attempt to ban Muslims from somewhat random countries, a complete lack of legislation (even to repeal Obamacare) and a difficulty getting low-level cabinet posts confirmed. There is little reason to think Trump understands the proper grace needed to be the leader of a state. He lacks the ability to keep good relations with one of our closest allies, Australia. His joint press conference with Theresa May did go unremarkably well, with a recommitment of United States’ support for NATO. Furthermore, the choice of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court has been easy to swallow for many Democrats.
Despite these victories, it is clear that many Democrats, and other left-leaning people, are becoming intensely more active in political life. Floating through activist airwaves is a document called “Indivisible,” written by former Lloyd Doggett staffers, that intends to employ and utilize Tea Party strategies to push left and liberal agendas toward Congress. At various meetings I have attended, at least in San Antonio and Austin, there are more and more people attending with important information to share. Many people are angry or scared, and they are using political channels to communicate these fears. Recently, Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas spoke on how their phone lines were flooded with calls about the new secretary of education, Betsy DeVos. For many legislators, they are learning the truth: there are people in their constituencies who vehemently disagree with their platform, and will work to slow it, if not stop it.
For Donald Trump and the Republican leaders at the top, it will be necessary to avoid the public catastrophes that have characterized these first few weeks in office. For a new, opposite transition of presidential power, there has been little legislation passed, or even considered. Republican legislators and leaders, who were used to not governing, are suddenly thrust into that position and are unprepared. This is quite true at the national level, but is less true at the state level. At least in Texas, many state legislators are excited by the regime change, and look to utilizing that political capital to push forward their agenda.
The next two and four years before the next elections will be interesting. There are many ways for things to shift. If liberals and Democrats can keep up the organizing and remember why elections and voting are important, then they may have a chance to take some seats in the midterms. Republicans and conservatives, if there are any left, need to reconsider how they will govern, both now and in the future, lest they lose all they have gained.