So, we are now recovering from one of the most historic and unexpected results from a presidential election in our nation’s history. Since nearly everyone on the planet got the prognostication wrong, particularly the political and intellectual elites from both the left and the right, what should we now expect as we approach the inauguration of Donald Trump?
Some are now describing this man’s election as miraculous. As a result, should our expectations be great?
Initially our attention is drawn to the fact that the dual prospect of a Trump presidency with the anticipation of further interest-rate increases have lifted bank shares and exhilarated the markets, especially the financial markets. The question is begged, is there a great expectation that a new economic order emerge? This outlook is crucial and it does appear as if the market is upbeat about these possibilities.
Another great expectation is that a Trump administration will usher in a less onerous regulatory environment. A systemic approach to deregulation is simultaneously good for banks, business in general and small business in particular.
For the first time in many years a Trump administration will do more than pay lip service to small business and franchised businesses, where every net job in America as emerged since the mid-1980s. The decline in business start-ups and the attendant proliferation of non-bank and virtual lenders, the assault by the National Labor Relations Board on franchising through vehicles such as an expansion of the Joint Employer and issues like minimum wage will result in an explosion of new jobs filled by people who buy homes and cars and groceries and clothes and eat out.
Great expectations might include liberating our nation from slow growth and bringing in a new American era of prosperity and growth. A 21st-century tax system that lowers the tax rate and increases standard deductions while streamlining tax brackets and eliminates special interest provisions could be exhilarating. In short, a tax code that is simple and easy to understand that supports growth through America’s small business and the millions of Americans they employ.
Great expectations might anticipate a renewed emphasis on our military and national defense. An understanding that leading from behind is a fool’s errand and that patriotism and American exceptionalism are terms that are not antiquated or embarrassing but instead represent all that is good and proud in the long and storied history of this great country.
Great Expectations would anticipate a peaceful transfer of power demonstrating to the world the vigorous and robust leadership of a united America. The story of the emasculated voter to whom no one pays attention has become the story of this election and the story of modern democracy. FDR’s “forgotten man,” who was the emasculated voter of 1932, carried him to power much as the “baskets of deplorables” carried the day for Trump.
We put voters in charge and they have proven over and over again why the free enterprise system made up of free markets and free people has lifted more people out of poverty and created more wealth than any other system in history. And, why for the entire life of our nation more people have tried to come here from all over the world to be able to pursue their dreams.
At the end of World War II, Henry Stimson, then secretary of war said, “America has been presented with the greatest opportunity ever offered a nation.” The election of Trump is another moment akin to that. Bill Gove speaks about these moments as inflection points. Physicists call them points of criticality. Alexander Solzhenitsyn refers to them as knots. The Bible speak of Kairos, or the hour. These are moments when the culture and circumstances come together and things go one way or another.
Trump has become a steward in a long line of presidents that add to the fabric of American democracy. He is but one link in a chain. He has shown himself to be enthusiastic with a can-do spirit and a connection to middle America. We have as Americans a long history of great expectations. At the end of one of his speeches in the 1992 Republican convention Ronald Reagan said that he hoped history “will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears. To your confidence rather than your doubts.”
There were many who would have doubted that outcome for Reagan and similarly many that doubt such an outcome for Trump. We have great expectations.