By Ira Sharkansky
Letter from Israel 

The present and future with Trump

 


Donald Trump is sending mixed messages, some of them more troubling than others.

Americans might wonder why others are paying attention. The answer is simple. The U.S. aspires to influence the world, or at least large parts of it. And large parts of the world aspire to be helped, protected, left alone, or be led by the U.S. example.

Soothing words heard from Trump reflect his winding down from the shrill rhetoric of the campaign. He won’t bother with criminal charges against Hillary Clinton, and thereby he removes one potential political and media circus that could get in the way of other matters. He’s also been talking about repairing the Affordable Care Act rather than doing away with it altogether.

Repair won’t be easy. He’ll be wrestling with insurance companies, as well as physicians who oppose regulation and Americans who don’t like to pay for someone else’s care. However, the effort recognizes that the program, while far from ideal, has brought some degree of medical care to lots of people. Like Social Security from the 1930s onward for several decades, the program will continue to provoke diehard individualists, but it will resist efforts to reduce benefits that it provides to many voters.


Trump came into the Republican primaries as an outsider, and unseated established office holders Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. His campaign brought forth declared abstentions or nasty comments from the senior Bushes and Mitt Romney. The prospects of a Romney Cabinet appointment has riled the folks around Trump in a way that suggests that the Grand Old Party is a long way from being healed.

There are signs that Trump will be a hands-off president in the model of Ronald Reagan. Yet Reagan led a union of politically contentious actors, then eight years as governor of California. 

Trump has nothing like that. He showed that he could excite voters in a campaign, but--not yet—that he can govern them. 

He’s made comments about separating self and family from business before taking office, but it’s a large family and a complex set of businesses.

His apparent disinterest in the details of a security briefing also makes his choices of key appointees more relevant than usual. So far it seems that his government will be in the hands of individuals with more experience in politics than Trump, but from far enough on the right of the Republican spectrum to worry a number of Republicans as well as Democrats, and foreigners who see themselves dependent on what happens in Washington. 


The U.S. is likely to remain at least as prominent on the world stage as in the most recent eight years. It’ll stay weighty due to economics, and Trump may not downsize official credibility below where it got due to Obama’s withdrawal from confrontations and the ridicule produced by his soothing ignorance. 

Indications from Wall Street suggest that investors are happy with the prospect of a Republican administration. Appetites may also reflect the prospect of a no rules apply to me entrepreneur at the top.

There are promises of cuts in taxes and regulations. That’ll cause celebration among Republicans and on Wall Street. However, doing away with a free trade agreement will be more complex. It’ll go against the enthusiasm of some Republicans, depending on where their money is invested. 

There’s a lot to ponder, and reasons to comment. Irashark@gmail.com.

 

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