According to the historian John Steele Gordon, “Trump May Herald a New Political Order,” there have been just four transformational presidencies so far in U.S. history:
- Andrew Jackson in 1828 moved the locus of political power sharply down the socioeconomic scale.
- Abraham Lincoln in 1860 preserved the Union, freed the slaves and turned the South into essentially a third world country for the next 100 years.
- William McKinley in 1896 ushered in an era of almost unbroken Republican dominance which lasted until the 1930s.
- Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 who overcame the Great Depression and greatly expanded the reach and power of the federal government.
Ronald Reagan in 1980, constrained by a solidly Democratic House, was less transformational than the four presidents above, even though he ushered in the era of Great Moderation which lasted until the Great Recession hit in 2007-2008.
Barack Obama in 2008 took office with strong Democratic majorities. However the last eight years have proved a disaster for the Democratic Party. They lost the House in 2010, the Senate in 2014, and Republicans now control most governorships and state legislatures as well.
Now consider Donald Trump’s strong political position as he takes office:
- The Republicans hold a big majority in the House and a small majority in the Senate. And ten Democratic Senators in states carried by Mr. Trump are up for re-election in 2018.
- He was elected to change the self-serving ways of Washington and owes little to the political establishment.
- His cabinet picks, many with excellent qualifications, signal profound changes in government policy, especially lower tax rates and a regulatory environment more friendly to business.
Conclusion. Mr. Trump has excellent prospects for achieving faster economic growth and therefore rising incomes for the blue-collar workers who provided his victory margin. If he can also improve life in the inner cities, as he has promised to do, he and the Republican Party will be unbeatable for many years to come.