Presidential politics as not-so-usual

After a turbulent election season, Donald J. Trump has been sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. On Friday, America tuned in to watch the inaugural ceremony as it took place in Washington, D.C. 

The inauguration ceremony dates back to the first U.S. president, George Washington, who took the presidential oath in 1789. Since then, this humble ceremony has grown into the extravagant celebration it is today, with celebrity concerts, balls and parades to hail the beginning of a new administration. 

Not all were celebrating, however, as many have been wondering what changes will take place with the new and controversial presidency. Richland adjunct government and criminal justice professor Michael Kotwal said, “In terms of how smoothly the transition is going to be, a lot of it’s going to be what the sentiment of the public is. A lot of it has to do with the relationship, if any, that the new president has within the party and with the oppositional party.” 

Trump has had a rough relationship with many prominent figures of the Republican Party, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, with whom he will have to work to pass legislation. Despite Trump’s controversial public image, Kotwal points out one positive attribute: “You have a president who people are really going to follow on a day-in and day-out basis to an extent where it’s going to draw a lot more people into what’s happening in government.” 

One of the unique aspects of the president-elect has been his willingness to openly share his thoughts with the public using Twitter. Should he choose to continue to stay active on the social media platform while in office, his constant presence will play a unique role in his presidency. 

For some, this may seem positive.  “For people who feel that the government or the president has always been behind a wall of inaccessibility, this really breaks down those walls,” Kotwal said. 

“With that office, there does come a great level of mindfulness that what you say can have a tremendous effect, both positive or negative. I would hope that any elected official, especially President Trump, would keep in mind that it’s a very powerful tool at his disposal,” he added.

Republicans and Democrats alike are waiting to find out what the Trump administration will do once in office. During his campaign, Trump released his 100-day action plan in the form of a contract with the American voters. Although many are skeptical of his promise to “drain the swamp” after some of his controversial Cabinet picks, there are still many campaign promises on the list that could pose interesting results if they are put into action. 

Some goals seem far-fetched, like Trump’s proposal for a “constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress.” “You’re basically asking the same people who benefit from not having term limits to vote themselves out,” Kotwal said.

While Trump can certainly propose the amendment, changing the U.S. Constitution is no easy task.

Another goal from his 100-day plan was the requirement that “for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.” 

This boils down to the idea of less government regulation and that is something Trump could easily work with the Republican Party to accomplish. 

Kotwal predicts, “What you’re going to see more than likely is a pretty aggressive scaling back of regulations.” 

Many people, especially those concerned about the environment, find this troublesome, although businesses will surely stand to gain from less regulation.

When asked about Trump’s statements about repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), renegotiating NAFTA and withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Kotwal said, “Once they’re implanted in society, it’s like tentacles. They work their way all through. They impact people. They impact sectors. They impact industries. They impact service providers,” he said. “It is much harder to disassemble and extract these programs once they’re in place. It’s much easier to modify key divisions.” 

We will soon find out how well Trump negotiates and compromises with Congress to achieve his goals as president. That will play a vital role in the next four years as Trump works to unite a deeply divided nation.