America’s Cycles of Change

Donald Trump’s Moment of Opportunity

Tue, 10 January 2017

In 2008, Barack Obama, the first ever African-American President of the United States, swept his Democratic Party to power in its greatest landslide victory for 44 years since Lyndon Johnson buried Barry Goldwater in 1964.

Obama thereby won the historic opportunity to craft a lasting new direction for politics, economics and society in the United States during his two terms in the White House.

But within two years, the opportunity was gone. The Republicans roared back, regaining control of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the 2010 midterm elections and they have held on to that control through the following four successive elections.

As I explain in my book Gathering Storm, Obama had in fact squandered his historic opportunity only weeks into office.

He listened to the disastrous advice of his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other “Third Way” veterans of the two term presidency of Bill Clinton and moved extremely cautiously on a wide range of issues from reining in Wall Street to introducing health care reform.

Obama in 2009 never showed any serious interest in working closely with, leading or exerting his influence over the Democratic congressional leaderships.

On the major issues of the day, starting with the TARP bailout program and the Dodd-Frank legislation, Obama passively allowed congressional staffs to draw up the basic outlines of legislation.

He casually threw away the leadership of the presidency and its own staff that has been the driving force for new administrations and their program s for the past 84 years since Franklin D. Roosevelt created the modern presidency with his dynamic leadership in the spring of 1933.

Today, President-elect Donald Trump, supposedly a neophyte in Washington has already shown a vastly superior grasp of the dynamics of policymaking in the US capital than Obama ever did.

Trump even before his inauguration has already been working for weeks with the congressional leaders of his own party to coordinate a wave of legislative initiatives as soon as he takes power.

Like Franklin Roosevelt in his First Hundred Days, Trump understands the political wisdom of William Shakespeare when he wrote in Julius Caesar:
“There is a tide which
Taken at the flood
Leads on to fortune.”