I took a break from blogging a month ago, and the world has changed tremendously. Wow.
When I left, nearly everyone thought Hillary Clinton would be the President. The odds were also favorable that there would be a Democratic Senate.
Now, of course, Donald Trump will be the President, and the Republicans control not only the House but also the Senate. This is obviously an enormous change. At first, it was really disorienting. And for many opponents of Trump, the effect continues.
But there has also been another change. We have started to get more information about Donald Trump and how he is likely to govern. While it is preliminary, most of this information is encouraging (as compared to what many people feared Trump would do).
First, it appears that Trump seeks to govern as a conservative. Some of the selections he has made for his cabinet, especially Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, are conservative. The finalists for Secretary of State are mainly conservatives. And his selection for Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is said to be a supply-sider by supply-sider Stephen Moore. His pick for Education strongly favors school choice. Other selections are conventional Republicans, such as Nikki Haley, Elaine Chao, and Reince Priebus. Compare this cabinet to the one that Mitt Romney (himself a possible pick) would have selected or the ones that George W. Bush had. It seems at least as conservative as those cabinets.
Second, it appears that Trump’s many outrageous statements, especially on Twitter, are often not to be taken seriously. They appear to be ways that he communicates sentiments to the public and his supporters about where his heart is. This is an effective way to communicate to some people (just as it irks many others who treat the tweets more seriously). So Trump’s statement that people who burn the American flag should be punished is not the start of a plan to change the Constitution, but instead a way to express his distaste of these people.
Of course, we don’t know for sure that Trump will not pursue some of these ideas. But so far it seems they are not to be taken as serious policy proposals.
Third, and related to the previous point, President Trump is likely to be more presidential than Candidate Trump (more presidential, even if not actually presidential). He is able to walk back from saying that he would prosecute Hillary Clinton as well as many other statements, such as a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
So the world has changed. Trump won, and now a more conservative, more presidential Trump seems to have emerged. We shall see.