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The Next Four Years, More or Less

BY LAURA WATERMAN WITTSTOCK

Donald Trump’s campaign for president has taken the lion’s share of newsprint and media time, for 15 months, from the time of his splashy announcement from the Trump Tower in New York City. There was a crowded Republican field of 16 candidates, five of whom dropped out before the Iowa caucuses in February, 2016, and another nine who dropped out later in February and March. The final two: Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out in May, following bruising primary fights filled with personal insults and innuendo. This left Donald Trump alone to face the Democratic candidates: Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders who were themselves locked in an intense fight in the primaries. Once Sanders conceded, Clinton had little time left to fully prepare for her adversary and his street fighter’s style of campaigning. Unafraid to cast insults and state falsehoods, Trump whipped the crowds who came to see him into chanting, “lock her up, lock her up!” as he smiled and held thumbs up to them. He called her a liar and a criminal, but all he offered in terms of foreign or domestic policy was to build a wall on the Mexican border, kick out Muslims, and cozy up to Vladimir Putin, president of Russia.

Now Trump has been sworn in as president and his administration begins. It is clear from his continued use of informal language expression and inability to keep to the truth, that this will be a time of weirdness for the American public and the world. It does not take a crystal ball to see the rough days ahead. In American history, when a weak president gets elected, Congress fills in the gaps with a stronger voice, and legislation that can go too far in setting policy for the United States. Then the U.S. Supreme Court may be called to judge questions of constitutionality. The fear is, a rightist court could swing challenges out of the way and even regression could take place. That seems to be one strong hint coming out of the Trump campaign with its slogan of “Make America Great Again.” The slogan is now a dot gov web site and on it four areas named for greatness are defense and national security, Constitutional rights, energy independence, and transportation and infrastructure. One example from the four under Constitutional rights is [to name] “Supreme Court Justices who are committed to interpreting the Constitution and laws according to their original public meaning.” It will be up to Constitutional law professors to interpret what this means, but law repeal does not seem out of the question.

It is reported that Las Vegas betting firm Ladbrokes is taking bets on impeachment or resignation with odds of three to one. The bookmaker cut those odds twice, but they remain at nine to four, largely due to the opinions of law professors who are speaking out about Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel, which is leased from the federal government or Trump University. However, the size of the Republican representation in Congress makes impeachment unlikely. A majority of the House is needed for the impeachment to go forward in the Senate, where a two-thirds majority must vote for conviction.

Over two million people in the United States alone marched on the day after Trump’s inauguration and, according to the Washington Post, 673 marches were staged in cities throughout the world. The marchers sent messages supporting women’s rights, and wearing pink, pointy-eared “pussy hats,” to mock the president.

What this portends for the next four years is hard to say, but certainly Trump’s administration will not be an easy one. When the federal budget comes out, we will have information on what the tax-reform driven agenda of the Trump administration will take to Congress. The effect on State and local government will also become clear, where cuts are also expected.

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