Welcome to Trump’s America
A Commentary by Fran Coombs
It’s Day One of the presidency that will Make America Great Again or the first day of the presidency of the most unqualified political charlatan in history, depending on whom you talk to.
It’s also two different world views colliding. Obama vs. Trump. An America That Still Has Miles to Go vs. America the Beautiful. For the next four years at least, it’s the Beautiful side’s turn.
For outgoing President Barack Obama, America is a land plagued with racism, sexism and other unspeakable bigotries with a colonialist past for which he spent the first several years of his presidency apologizing. Income inequality is perhaps the country’s overriding ill, fostered by a wealthy class willing to plunder the land and unwilling to pay its fair share. Only the benevolent hand of a growing federal government can ease these ills.
The hope and change Obama preached, however, hasn’t worked. Half (50%) of all voters believe America is a more divided nation after the eight years of the Obama presidency. Just 22% think the United States is a less divided country now.
Obama’s agenda has had a devastating impact on his own party, too. When Obama took office in January 2009, he had a Democratic-controlled Senate and House of Representatives to work with. There were 28 Democratic governors, and Democrats controlled 27 state legislatures. Now both chambers of Congress are in Republican control, and Democrats occupy only 16 governorships and control just 13 state legislatures, the latter an historic low.
The election of the first black president hasn’t even improved race relations: 60% say they’re worse now than they were eight years ago.
For incoming President Donald Trump, America is Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on a hill.” It is and always has been the land of opportunity for anyone from anywhere, as long as they work hard and play by the rules. Historically, America’s children have always been better off than their parents – until recent decades when the federal government has tried to move beyond equal opportunity to guaranteeing equal outcome. The hand of government weighs heavy on the economy, while U.S. presidents have become increasingly obsessed with matters abroad rather than those here at home.
Consider that 58% of voters said in late August that Obama is more interested in solutions that most benefit the world than in those that most benefit the United States. Only 23% felt he put America first.
Trump, by contrast, has called for a foreign policy that puts America first, and 60% of voters agree.
Clearly, Trump’s message resonated since he defeated the elites of both major parties in the Bushes and the Clintons and turned back a pro-Democratic media establishment that has brought many Republican candidates to their knees. Key to Trump’s victory was peeling away traditional Democratic voters who didn’t hear their needs addressed in Obama’s – or Hillary Clinton’s – message.
Now 83% of voters think Trump is likely to reverse or abolish most of Obama’s accomplishments, a stunning repudiation in back-to-back presidencies.
Don’t think voters didn’t know who and what they were voting for. Throughout the campaign, they told Rasmussen Reports in surveys that Clinton would perform about the same as Obama on most issues, while Trump would make big changes as president, for better or worse.
For voters, a third term for Obama which in essence is how many viewed a Hillary Clinton presidency was worse than the uncertainty – and for some the unsettling prospect - of Trump in the White House. Fifty percent (50%) of both Democrats and voters not affiliated with either major political party say the presidential election was more a vote against Clinton than a vote for Trump, and 46% of Republicans agree. Only slightly more Republicans (48%) believe the election results were a vote for Trump, a view shared by just 25% of Democrats and 34% of unaffiliateds.
Throughout the election season, voters were more likely to agree with Trump on the issues, whether it was getting rid of Obamacare, fighting radical Islam, building a border wall or cutting the size of government. The media tried to take the focus off these areas of agreement with a steady diet of controversies, but the issues won out.
Despite the continuing shock among progressives and other Clinton supporters and their continuing last-ditch efforts to repudiate the election, rank-and-file voters have begun responding positively to Trump’s win. Forty-seven percent (47%) of voters now believe America’s best days are in the future, the highest level of optimism in over four years.
Americans are much more upbeat about their personal financial future than they were a year ago.
Thirty-five percent (35%) of voters now think the country is heading in the right direction, and that, believe it or not, ties the high for all of last year, reached in December. Obviously, there’s still a long way to go, but Trump hasn’t even taken office yet.
Will Trump’s vision of America succeed where Obama’s did not? We’ll find out starting today.
Fran Coombs is the managing editor of Rasmussen Reports.
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