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Transition to Trump: The prospect of change in 2017 makes it a very happy new year

As we crossover from the tumultuous but exhilarating year of 2016 to the potentially exciting yet fascinatingly unknown future in 2017, one thing seems certain: this year will bring change to the deadlocked tug-of-war that has defined official Washington for the past decade or so.

W. James Antle III of the Washington Examiner writes, “Democrats may not be able to block many of Trump's nominees, but they will resist most of the ones requiring Senate confirmation. This is because they believe many of them will gut their agencies from the inside. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, the nominee to Donald Trumprun the Environmental Protection Agency, will be probed for his ties to the fossil fuels industry. All the billionaires in line for Cabinet positions will face tough questions about their wealth and any potential conflicts of interest.

“All told, some 4,000 executive branch jobs will need to be filled by the new administration. While most of these don't require Senate action, it will keep the Trump team — which contains many Washington outsiders who have never staffed a White House before — busy.”

In his article Antle also highlights the certain turnover in the federal judiciary. Most attention has been on the Supreme Court seat that’s been vacant since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last February, but there are also 100 openings at the appellate and district levels to consider.

And then there’s the likely dismantling of Obamacare along with other significant changes in tax rates, immigration enforcement, trade oversight and foreign policy to consider. When you add it all up, things are going to look a lot different in our nation’s capital by the end of 2017. With Trump’s famous energy fueling the fires of change, the pace could be dizzying and will likely leave a lot of stunned liberals sitting astride the road wondering what happened to their government.

One would think it will be a labor of love for most people to watch as the federal bureaucracy and courts morph right before our eyes. There will be massive resistance at the lower levels of government and expect the press to dig up every little bit of liberal “injustice” it can find in the crumbling federal departments. It’s going to be a mess for a while and the arguments will certainly break out into the public sphere.

Such chaos always ensues when there’s massive change and turnover. Bring it on.

I find it curious how the media often portrays the difference between conservatives and liberals (or as they prefer to be called these days, “progressives”) as a struggle between those fighting change and those fostering it. By definition, “conservatives” would seem to want to “conserve” the present or maintain the status quo. Similarly, “progressives” would appear to desire “progress,” or a change in the present circumstances.

Isn’t it ironic that conservatives are now the ones seeking the big transformation while liberals are the people who are terrified that things might change too much?

The difference in terminology goes deeper than the surface, however. Conservatives want a return to the limits and freedoms guaranteed by the brilliance of our Constitution while liberals want to preserve government’s power to fix outcomes – you know, a government by elites who think they’re smart enough to ensure fairness and equity regardless of human nature.

Aided by the growth of the federal leviathan in the past eighty years, our national government now oversees and regulates practically everything. And what the federal government doesn’t touch, state and local governments often fill the gap. Heck, if you live in the regulatory state that is California, it’s surprising that you can take a breath without some government entity measuring your emissions.

Trump will change all of this. It certainly looks like he’s going to harness government’s power in some instances – such as in setting trade policy – but in others it appears he’ll let the people decide their own destinies.

It’s a place where “outsiders” are running the show, which scares the left to death. In a post titled “Donald Trump’s Outsider Cabinet Is Shaking D.C. Up,” Rudy Giuliani writes in Time, “President-elect Trump has already shown this in his Cabinet selections: he is turning Washington on its head by hiring the best individual for the job, regardless of their background, prior government experience, or personal connections. He’s negotiated deals with Carrier and Ford to save American jobs, and sat down with Boeing and Lockheed Martin to save taxpayer dollars while not sacrificing the quality of our military’s firepower. Businesses sink or swim on their ability to achieve results, and President-elect Trump is already proving that the days of a federal government with no accountability are over.

“Whether it’s his fresh perspective on fixing America’s problems, his strong head start on making Cabinet picks, or utilizing wisdom culled from one of the greatest business careers in history, President-elect Trump is already making good on his promises to win for the American people. Imagine how much more he’ll be able to accomplish once he becomes President Trump.”

Yes indeed; it’s the sense change is really on the doorstep that has Americans buzzing like children waiting for Christmas morning.

It’s been decades since proponents of limited constitutional governance have had the chance to create a government that’s responsive to the people without trying to control them at the same time. Donald Trump isn’t perfect and we know there will be quite a few instances where he’s off-base or flat out wrong.

But at least now conservatives know we’re in the game. January 20 can’t come fast enough for most of us.

Trump sends out markers that the press’s honeymoon is over

It’s safe to say the liberal press has enjoyed a period of relative comfort during the Obama years.

Since about 90 percent of so-called “journalists” vote for Democrats, the reporting class (otherwise known as the Fourth Estate) has gotten away with ignoring the government’s worst failures (i.e, Benghazi) while often serving as a cheerleader for the Democrats’ dictatorial polices (i.e, Obamacare and the suppression of religious freedom) during the reign of Obama.

That’s about to change. There’s a new sheriff in town and he doesn’t care about appeasing the news media.

Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner reports, “President-elect Donald Trump is set to blow up the White House briefing room, ending the cozy relationship and practices of the past as he seizes on new ways to communicate with his nearly 45 million social media followers, according to incoming Press Secretary Sean Spicer…

“[I]nstead of sticking to standard East Room and briefing room press conferences, Spicer said Trump and his communications team plan to use several additional avenues including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.”

What will the media do without formal press events? Won’t everyone miss the likes of Sam Donaldson and Helen Thomas interrogating the president over some tidbit of leftist-contrived scandal? Instead, imagine journalists and TV personalities poring over social media and tilting their coverage accordingly.

In the interview with Hugh Hewitt referenced above, Spicer also indicated Trump was working on an eight-year plan which clearly shows there will be no voluntarily leaving the scene after one term. Time and events could conceivably change Trump’s mind, but it certainly won’t be the peppering from the press that gets him to quit.

Trump’s tweeting during the transition period hasn’t died down and Spicer suggested the 45th president might be the first one to mostly bypass the “conventional” media to communicate directly with his supporters. There will be some of the traditional press events as well, though the policy is still in flux and “business as usual” is clearly a thing of the past according to Spicer.

The notion of Trump leaving them sitting un-serviced in the White House briefing room has got the media elites upset, too.

Hadas Gold of Politico reports, “Three former White House press secretaries sounded various alarms about the president-elect and the possible pitfalls in his relationship with the media in a panel conversation with Chuck Todd on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’

“Joe Lockhart, White House press secretary under President Bill Clinton, said President-elect Donald Trump creates his own facts, something former President Richard Nixon would do….”

In addition, Gold reported George W. Bush communications director (and long-time Trump critic) Nicole Wallace said Trump needs press attention “like an addict craves drugs.”

Only George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer added any objective commentary, suggesting the animosity is mutual between Trump and the press and the new president could conceivably use the media’s antagonism to his advantage because the public holds journalists in such low esteem.

In other words, it’s the press’s lack of fair reporting that’s dug them such a deep hole in Americans’ minds. Trump can take advantage by using social media to spread his message and drum up grassroots support for his nominees and policies.

What Richard Nixon once called the “Silent Majority” is about to become very mobilized and vocal. When conservatives stand up for themselves, the government listens. Trump’s version of “change” is a welcome development for sure.

Half the public is skeptical of Trump’s abilities, but his congressional outreach will improve his numbers
 
Perhaps because of the continued negativity and bias of the press, a good many Americans continue to express doubts over the incoming president’s ability to conduct the duties of the presidency.

Melanie Zanona of The Hill reports, “The majority of Americans are skeptical that President-elect Donald Trump has the ability to handle some of his presidential duties, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

“Forty-six percent of poll respondents are confident that Trump can handle an international crisis, while 47 percent believe he will use military force wisely. Forty-four percent of Americans expressed confidence that Trump will be able to prevent major scandals in his administration.”

By contrast the past three presidents all entered office with 70 percent of people expressing confidence in their abilities to handle such things. It should be noted Trump did score well on his potential economic stewardship with 59 percent thinking he’ll succeed in that realm.

And, “When it comes to defending U.S. interests and managing the executive branch effectively, 55 percent and 53 percent of Americans are confident in Trump’s ability, respectively,” Zanona added.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a deep partisan divide between those who believe in Trump’s abilities versus those who don’t. The Democrats I’ve talked with since the election seem almost buoyed by Hillary Clinton’s defeat, somewhat self-assured that Trump will fail. It’s a childish arrogance that is silly on its face and dangerous at the core.

The results of the Gallup survey may suggest congressional Democrats will dig in and oppose everything Trump does rather than try and work with the new president on areas where the two sides agree (if there are any, that is).

Or maybe Trump’s phone call diplomacy will win over some skeptics.

Susan Crabtree of the Washington Examiner reports, “Trump's direct, in-your-face engagement with likely allies as well as foes is already starting to break down some initial barriers on Capitol Hill and earning him high praise from early converts…

“Trump's Capitol Hill agenda will depend on his relationships with GOP leaders so it behooves him to reach out early and often. The outreach also has extended to the man who is positioned to become the biggest roadblock to his agenda: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

“The president-elect began the process early, phoning Schumer the morning after Election Day to focus on areas of common policy ground, and the pair of brash New Yorkers have talked several times since, according to a person familiar with the discussions.”

One can only imagine what Trump says to Schumer and vice versa during these calls. Something along the lines of “Chuck, we’ve got the numbers and we won the election. Save yourself some trouble and work with us if you want to matter in the next four years.”

Schumer’s likely retort has been censored for content.

At any rate, it’s a little early for anyone to assess Trump’s abilities as president. He’s handling his transition the way he conducted his campaign, by not asking for permission and not offering apologies.

Americans should all be satisfied that it finally looks like we’ll get something done. It should definitely be a very happy new year.

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