The Eye of Storm: President-Elect Donald Trump

A lot is being written about normalization right now—I’m not even going to link examples for you. You have Google. The very legitimate fear on the left is that we are going to take the unusual actions of Trump and start treating them like the new normal. This is a real problem and this is not a dissenting opinion.

But one thing I would like to point out is that Donald Trump is going to be on his best behavior until January. This is because being President Elect is by all standards relatively easy. Apart from the scramble to fill positions in the White House to start on January 20th—which, if you’ve not heard, Trump did not know was his job—there are few actual hurdles. Obama is still president. He is still fielding all problems, making all the decisions, and generally dealing with it.

During the primaries and general election, Trump was always on his best behavior while winning. He gave reasonably gracious victory speeches and followed the advice of his campaign more closely when he was ahead. This is not to say that he became palatable; I am not here to normalize him. But he did take a less threatening tone towards our fundamental institutions like Congress and the press. (All the minorities on your Facebook feed, including me, will tell you that he remained scary. Just more conventionally scary.) When he was losing or felt threatened, that was when he had Twitter meltdowns and attacked people.

In a fundamental way, even if we (correctly!) choose not to act like it, President Donald Trump is going to be the new normal. And we should expect that the man we vetted will be president. Right now things are easy and in line with how he acted in his campaign, he is giving reasonably good* signals about his behavior. In January, he will start hitting up against the hard realities of the checks and balances of American government as well as the deep popular opposition to him.

He will melt down.

On the buffet of things that make Trump dangerous, I would rank this quality as the worst. That Donald Trump responds to adversity by throwing a temper tantrum will combine in bad ways with executive power. Trump is too undisciplined to marshal the power of the Federal Government to his worst tendencies—though, don’t get complacent. In a rage, he could well abrogate a treaty or deploy the military. The ensuing crisis could do damage far beyond what I believe him capable of doing purposefully.

Things look more normal because this is the eye of the storm.

*I know, Steve Bannon. There is a lot of bad news here, too.


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