“The presidency has made every man who occupied it, no matter how small, bigger than he was; and no matter how big, not big enough for its demands.” — Lyndon B. Johnson
This Thursday marks the three-month anniversary of January 20, or the date that Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States. Following his election, people have been forecasting doom for America for months, but how different has his presidency been from a potential Hillary Clinton presidency? The answer is surprisingly not that different. As the Steve Bannon nationalism has faded in its influence, President Trump has become more mainstream, whether he realizes it or not.
In domestic policy, Trump campaigned against President Obama’s signature health care policy, the Affordable Care Act. He vowed to roll back regulations, cut departments and simplify the tax code, a typically conservative agenda. In reality, Trump has approached these goals with mixed success. He has maintained his social views, but failed to solidify a deal to repeal Obamacare and now has moved on from health care reform, preferring to keep the current system and address other issues in government. Trump has shown interest in a deal with Democrats over infrastructure and wants to keep the most popular parts of Obamacare, views not shared by those in his party. Although his statements may be extreme, Trump’s domestic actions have trended towards mainstream in recent weeks.
President Trump’s foreign policy actions have been more decisive and extreme, but nonetheless very similar to what a President Clinton might have done. Although Trump has been accused of being friendly with Russia many times, his recent foreign actions in Syria and Afghanistan have been anti-Russia. Trump’s travel ban was certainly well outside the scope of what Clinton would have done, but the ban is in legal limbo and has already been scaled back. Trump’s actions against North Korea remain to be seen, but it seems unlikely that he will be cozying up to them as many have predicted.
Finally, Trump as a person may seem more unhinged and volatile than Clinton, but the two share many similarities. FBI investigations have both of them and each has a habit of being caught in their own lies. Trump has relied on advice from Goldman Sachs executives and U.S. generals, which were both staples of the forecasted Clinton cabinet. Despite his harsh rhetoric towards Secretary Clinton, President Trump has become more like her than he has realized, in both domestic and foreign policy.