Given all the drama in Washington during the past nine months, it might make an American wonder whether Donald Trump is capable of getting our country back on track. In what areas is the US most vulnerable to missteps by the president?
By far the most troublesome issue is the nuclear showdown with North Korea. If Kim Jong-un can launch a missile with a nuclear warhead and hit a target several thousand miles away, the US is facing a real existential threat. What does this mean?
If Kim decides to attack either the US or any of our allies, it would result in the total obliteration of North Korea. This of course would have a devastating effect on both the target of North Korea’s missiles, North Korea itself and possibly the US.
Trump’s role in this dire scenario is critical. Unlike the Soviet Union during the Cold War, North Korea may not appreciate the concept of mutual destruction. The US and its archenemy at the time would never launch nuclear warheads because it would forever change mankind. Are we sure Kim feels the same obligations to protect mankind?
Antagonizing North Korea could lead to further tension or a snap decision by the maniac in North Korea. In recent days Trump’s unconventional rhetoric towards Kim has had in impact. Kim apparently is unsure about Trump’s ultimate objectives. He seems to be as concerned about his adversary initiating a military invasion, as the US is about him doing the same thing. Detente will be critical in avoiding a nuclear showdown.
Longer term the prospects for peace are not good. North Korea will continue to enhance its nuclear technology. This problem is not going away, and it will necessitate extraordinary diplomatic efforts to avert all out war.
Another issue that Trump will impact greatly is the way the presidency and Congress relate to each other. Historically Washington did business and met the needs of Americans through compromise. Give and take negotiations resulted in a vibrant and effective government.
Today bipartisanship, comity and concern for our country are less important than political gamesmanship and the desire for power. Exacerbating the situation is the horrible relationship between the president and his own party. Previously members of the same party in Congress supported presidential administrations. No longer is this the case. Ideology has overwhelmed the Republican Party. Compromise and good government are no longer a high priority.
Trump has done more than his fair share to worsen this situation. He should be slighted by his party’s obstructionist mentality. But much of what the president is experiencing is of his own doing.
Radical elements in both parties will continue to plague Washington. The old guards need to be replaced. But with no term limits, this ray of hope is weakening every day.
The financial strength of our country is on a decline. Overspending, poor accountability and an inability to terminate programs that are no longer needed are causing our nation’s debt to rise to epic levels.
It will be impossible to ever balance the budget unless spending for entitlements are reined in. In one regard the financial problems of our country reflect demographic changes. We have more older people than ever who need affordable health care protection and social security. These have become albatrosses that are slowly bankrupting our country.
Obamacare was ill-conceived even though its objectives are noble. The program is too expensive for the government and too costly for the insured. Political nonsense has prevented any needed changes to the entitlement.
Social Security is another huge weight on our country. Americans are living longer and need a security net. But the old are effectively stealing from the young. The program needs to be redesigned to meet the future needs of an ageing population. Once again partisan politics has made any needed adjustments impossible.
Trump is in a position to make positive changes in these debilitating entitlements. However it does not appear that he will ever have the political capital or the savvy to get the job done efficiently and expeditiously. Further he has not employed the right people to help develop new strategies that could be acceptable to a majority of lawmakers.
The final issue is the attitude of Trump, Congress and the American people towards each other. Many think Trump is a sexist, racist and self-aggrandizing megalomaniac. Many think that Congress is totally inept and driven only by a desire by members to keep their seats. Many think that their fellow Americans have social and political agendas that are extreme. Many think our brave first responders treat members of the community unfairly. Many think that immigration has severely weakened the nation and made it less safe.
These feelings, true or not, are tearing our country apart. We need a leader who is able to temper the most radical elements of our society and bring them back into the fold. Is Trump the right person? Many think not.