I suppose he isn’t officially President-elect until the electors elect him, but that’s a foregone conclusion. Anyway, here are some thoughts I’ve been having since I woke up Wednesday morning.
I still think he’s unfit for office for all the reasons I’ve said, and maybe more. But there are some areas of expected action where it’s better to have him as President. The one I immediately think of is nominations to the Supreme Court. It has seemed to me for decades that many of the Justices of the Supreme Court have been reading their own personal preferences into the Constitution and creating “rights” which the framers never intended. This goes back at least to Roe v Wade. With the expected vacancies being filled by Trump nominees, we can hope for this judicial tyranny to stop, and even to have some of the willful decisions reversed.
More generally, we can hope to see greater recognition of religious freedom than a Clinton administration would have given and maybe even a curtailment of the scope of the federal government consonant with the 10th Amendment, although limited government as such wasn’t one of Trumps talking points.
Trump’s seeming willingness to ignore our NATO obligations, particularly toward the Baltic States, has me worried that Putin would see them as available for the taking. But it could conceivably happen that Trump’s friendly attitude toward the Russian dictator could end up making him feel more secure and therefore less inclined to grab more territory. This depends, of course, on whether his annexation of Crimea and attempted takeover of Ukraine are motivated by expansionism or insecurity, and which motives would apply to the Baltics.
On Thursday we’ve seen some hopeful signs. He assured Korea that under his presidency, the U.s. will continue to defend them. Maybe he’ll rethink out Nato obligations as well. His extended meeting with Obama and the kind words afterwards suggest that maybe he realizes that there’s more to being president that he had thought — although we have to bear in mind that it is normal procedure for him to say whatever he thinks people want to hear, with necessarily meaning it. And there was a recent headline stating that the mention of banning Muslims from entering the country has disappeared from his website.
I suppose we can see it as a function of his being totally unprincipled that he has no problem changing his positions. Nevertheless, it does seem that he is making changes in the direction of more sensible policies and actions. So I see some basis for hope that in practice, he won’t be as bad as I feared. I think it all comes down to his having good advisers and actually listening to them. One in particular on whom I pin a lot of hope is Newt Gingrich. He’s a true conservative, devoted to governing by constitutional principles, and I think if Trump listens to him, we will not see Trump acting as a dictator rather than a President.
Ultimately what matters is what he does in office, not what he said during the campaign. We’ll have to wait and see.