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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection prospects already plain for all to see

Donald Trump for president in 2020?

It’s a topic that certainly gets people’s attention. Most conservatives and Republicans would welcome the notion, nearly all Democrats and liberals would despise it and the few fence-sitters left in the country are in a perpetual state of wait-and-see.

Donald TrumpRecent events may have changed Trump’s re-electability calculus a little as last week the president turned heads when he shockingly (to some) joined with a beaming Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to tout the signing of a three month extension to the federal borrowing limit while promising more future cooperation with the opposition party should congressional Republicans fail to move his agenda.

Reaction to the deed from Trump’s friends and critics was varied. A few treated his move as a “See I told you so!” moment that finally exposed Trump’s true liberal leanings; some decried pushing off the inevitable for a few more months without a fight and many others declared, once again, that the system is so hopelessly broken it can never be fixed.

A couple seemed to think it was Donald Trump’s finest week to date.

Joel Pollak wrote at Breitbart, “Amidst all the worrying about how divided our country is, a new feeling is beginning to emerge, a sense of a society and a government that are actually working. Some of that is due simply to the resilience and decency of ordinary Americans, on full display in Texas. But some of that is because of Trump. How ironic that the great ‘disruptor’ of our political system is turning out to be the leader who is restoring it — and, soon, public faith in it.”

Michael Goodwin chimed in at the New York Post, “Indeed, Trump’s promise to change Washington was a key ingredient in his victory, and he may be uniquely positioned to carve out a new model. Throughout his business life, he’s been on both sides of big issues, and comes to the presidency with less of a fixed political core than anyone in recent memory.

“That’s made him understandingly suspect to many conservatives and his inexperience has been compounded by mistakes, but that outsider, pragmatic perspective can now work in his favor. If he can find both common ground and real solutions, we might look back one day and see a more bipartisan approach to governing as the one silver lining of the weather calamities of 2017.”

A “bipartisan approach” would only be seen as a good thing if it involved returning the country to its foundational constitutional principles of limited government and individual liberty (including respect for one’s religious beliefs). Since one party appears diametrically opposed to these concepts there’s very little room for “bipartisan” cooperation.

It’s a nice thought though. Brings warm and fuzzy feelings, doesn’t it?

Now that a week has gotten between us and Trump’s alarming (he did what?) debt ceiling capitulation, a little perspective indicates it might not be as bad as it first appeared.

Here’s why: by examining Trump’s behavior over the past several months it’s become obvious he’s been searching for an opportunity to break the current stagnation dominating American politics, particularly in Congress. So an overture to Pelosi and Schumer at this point could be seen as the right thing to do – and the debt ceiling issue and hurricane relief was perhaps the perfect chance to encourage it, for a few reasons.

One, everyone knows the borrowing capacity of the country was going to be extended whether it was wise to do so or not. Republicans, Democrats, liberals and conservatives (reluctantly, perhaps) understood that defaulting on any aspect of the debt was not going to happen and based on past experience, the prospects of receiving meaningful spending reform in return for a limit increase were slim at best.

Three months isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things. Trump no doubt sees it as additional time to work on the big issues of the present and still maintain impetus to get something accomplished. Since it’s only 90 days the extension keeps pressure on GOP leaders to buckle down and get to work on passing something meaningful for the public to chew on.

Two, Trump’s Democrat feint was a warning sign to Republican leaders. The GOP ruling class has become accustomed to talking a good game every election cycle and then retreating back to their status quo slow-march-to-socialism trenches when they get sent back to the front lines in Washington. Those days are over.

Trump could also be recognizing that the largest stumbling blocks to success on his agenda aren’t necessarily his loudest critics on the political left (Democrats) but is the GOP establishment instead, people who are supposed to be in his corner.

Lastly, it was a signal from Trump himself that he is willing to listen to the other side’s point-of-view and occasionally throw them a bone if he thinks it will further his end goals. There’s still plenty of time and opportunity to go to war with Democrats over differences in worldview and on practical things like budgets, cultural issues and foreign policy.

To side with the Democrats once isn’t going to change the political math all that much. It’s like being down by a point near the end of a (football) game and letting the opposing team score a quick touchdown so you can preserve enough time to get the ball back and possibly tie the game (with a score of your own and a two-point conversion) and send it into overtime.

But no true assessment of Trump’s reelection prospects would be complete without looking at the polls. As of earlier this week Trump’s Real Clear Politics average remained at about 40 percent where it’s more or less remained since he took the oath of office.

Beneath the surface figures may be more important than the overall number, however. Byron York of the Washington Examiner wrote, “Trump's job approval rating is down in the key swing states that won him the presidency. In some, his fall has been pretty steep; in others, not so much. In Ohio, Trump is at 45 percent; he won in 2016 with 51.7 percent. In Pennsylvania, Trump is at 43 percent; he won with 48.6 percent. In Florida, Trump is at 45 percent; he won with 49 percent. In Michigan, Trump is at 42 percent; he won with 47.5 percent. In Wisconsin, Trump is at 44 percent; he won with 47.2 percent. In North Carolina, Trump is at 43 percent; he won with 49.8 percent. In Iowa, Trump is at 47 percent; he won with 51.1 percent.

“Overshadowing all the numbers is the possibility that Trump's ratings might not work in the same way as earlier presidents. Are his low ratings -- lower than his predecessors at this point -- as bad as they look, or should they be viewed differently?”

I would go with the “viewed differently” category. York quoted a GOP pollster who pointed out Trump managed to win the presidency with his unfavorables significantly higher than his favorable support. Therefore the typical compare/contrast exercises used to assess job performance don’t really work in regards to Trump.

Trump persists as a political anomaly nearly eight months into his first year as president. That’s not likely to change in the near future and barring some sort of extraordinary alteration in the way they operate, Democrats aren’t going to stop hating on Trump no matter how many debt ceiling-like chits he tosses to them.

Trump’s presidency will rise or fall based on his ability to take constitutional executive actions, make good appointments, implement a foreign policy that protects our country and safeguards American interests – and also by the Republicans in Congress getting together to pass laws that further economic growth and prosperity.

If they do this then Trump will be reelected handsomely in 2020 and while there are signs that his current job performance ratings will improve, there’s still a long way to go.

And the good feelings aren’t universal, either. There’s this beauty (pardon the pun) from this past weekend’s Miss America pageant where Miss Texas, Margana Wood, ripped into Trump on national television over his reaction to last month’s Charlottesville riot.

Wood said, “I think that the white supremacist issue, it was very obvious, that it was a terrorist attack. And I think that President Donald Trump should’ve made a statement earlier addressing the fact, and in making sure all Americans feel safe in this country. That is the number one issue right now.”

No wonder the country’s historic monuments are in such jeopardy. Ignorance rules the world these days, especially among the brain-dulled reactionary smartphone generation.

Wood’s comment would’ve probably held water if it were made immediately following the incident and she’d only been watching coverage of it on CNN, but the objective facts revealed since the Nazi/Antifa clash a month ago have very much proven the president correct in saying both sides were to blame for the violence and there was a hefty dose of Democrat (state and local) government leaders’ culpability as well.

But if a ditzy blonde politically correct leftist airhead from Texas thinks Trump’s the real problem, who are we to argue?

Wood didn’t end up winning the Miss America crown, so perhaps there’s hope for the country after all. If Donald Trump continues to push the right political buttons – and Republicans in Congress actually move forward on the agenda he articulated during last year’s campaign – he will win over more voters and his current popularity numbers won’t be a problem.

And there will be an awful lot of happy conservatives on Election Night in 2020.

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