Commentary, Politics

Ron Nielson: Donald Trump is the Populist President

Our nation has grown so used to the notion of the ideological president that it has become impossible for some segments of the American people to see that, in fact, Donald Trump might not fit that mold.

The two most recent occupants of the Oval Office, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush, were both very ideological. Whether viewed as too arrogant or too ignorant (or both!), these men seemed to embody the most strident stands within their parties.

Bill Clinton’s textured “triangulation” has become a legendary code word for a president’s ability to parse small political difference for strategic advantage. But today he’s seen — appropriately so — as the ideological fox who may have put rose-colored glasses over the entire nation during each of his major convention and stump speeches.

Time does change the Presidential office. But we don’t need to go far back beyond these imperious and ideological presidents before we unearth a pragmatism that is, in truth, possibly the more natural model for our nation’s chief executive.

Take Richard Nixon, who ran against the war (in Vietnam), on peace (with China) and on a host of domestic policy issues where he implemented Democrat-style policies. Or John F. Kennedy, a cold war Democrat if there ever was one, and who wanted nothing if not to be seen as at the “center” of the nation’s politics and sense of service.

Even Ronald Reagan, the paragon on purity for American conservatives, governed through a real politick, particularly in managing domestic budget issues and economics crises.

Reagan’s West Wing style of management implemented a real-life conflict between the “troika” of a true believer like Ed Meese, moderate establishment Republicans like James Baker, and political operatives like Michael Deaver.

In the presidency of Donald Trump, we outsiders are left wondering whether the White House is operating more like a piece of precision engineering, or like the haphazard planning used by the average American family in organizing the summer vacation road trip.

But one thing is certain: If you don’t like Trump’s presidency today, wait for tomorrow and see what happens then!

Setting the stage for an unfiltered agenda

Nearly six months into his presidency, and it’s still too early to tell how President Trump governs. But he’s already set the stage for an unfiltered, and hence populist, agenda.

The mainstream media is unnerved by his bombastic style and left with the only choice of following his lead.   When President Trump calls a press conference he is talking directly to the American people.  The press just happened to be in attendance.  When President Trump thinks of something witty, silly, snarly or just plain crazy in the middle of the night, he does not filter his thoughts through a team of strategists, he speaks directly to the American people using his oh so pedestrian Twitter account.

This manner that all Americans now have come to recognize is his form of “truthful hyperbole.” Or as he wrote of his own term in The Art of the Deal, “It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

It’s time for American commentators and journalists to move past the stylistic disconnect between late-night liberal talk shows and the president.  Because Donald Trump is way past that discussion.  He has found the way to genuinely talk to and connect with the American people, unfiltered and in a language that is easily understood.

All the online review and commentary spent looking for signs of purported ideological conformity to nationalism in the White House is time that is not spent analyzing the issues, the facts and the on-the-ground realities of life in the Trump presidency.

Let’s stop parsing Trump’s words and start assessing the real-life impacts — good and bad — of the actions that his policies are putting into place.

(Photo of President Donald Trump speaking during a news conference announcing Alexander Acosta as the new Labor Secretary, following by an extensive question-and-answer-session with the press, by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)


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