Every president takes his (or her) own unique path to the White House, but the ascent of President-Elect Donald J. Trump has truly been unlike anything we’ve seen before. Trump has gone from rich kid to real-estate mogul, from bankrupt to “The Celebrity Apprentice,” and from leader of the birther movement to leader of the free world. And with no previous political experience, it’s fair to wonder whether the Oval Office will suit him.
So will President-Elect Donald Trump grab the bull by the “wherever” and fulfill his promise to “make America great again”? Or will we find ourselves worse off and wishing we could say, “You’re fired”? It can be difficult to put politics aside when contemplating such questions, especially so soon after such a contentious election, but our expert panel is up to the task.
In search of more insight into what we can expect from at least the next four years, we asked experts in the fields of economics, finance, public policy and more to answer one simple question: Will Donald Trump be a good president? All in all, twelve experts say no, sixteen vote yes and five are on the fence. You can check out their responses below. And if you’d like to weigh in with a theory of your own, please share your thoughts in the Comments section at the bottom of the page.
This post includes the full text of my own response and links to the text of all responses. Happy to have interested people weigh in as well.
Larry Catá Backer
W. Richard and Mary Eshelman Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law & International Affairs at Pennsylvania State University
The election cycle that ended on the first Tuesday of November 2016 has proven to be among the most polarizing in more than a generation. And for those who thought themselves in control of the institutions that helped shape and managed the decision presented to voters on that first Tuesday, the election cycle proved more disastrous still. And even more humiliating was the inability of our intellectual, economic, social and political classes to avoid even the appearance of international interference—in the manner of developing states subject to the machinations of powerful outsiders—which they themselves long used as evidence of the robustness of the American political system.
And indeed, the nasty bickering and hand wringing that followed the voting—and the hysterical calls to dismantle the structures of this ancient Republic to suit the short-term ambitions of the factions that now appear to gasp power—all suggest the start of what passes for rectification campaigns in the U.S. From the day after that first Tuesday in November, the authority of both political parties shattered. The intelligentsia stood marked as substantially out of touch (both of the left and the right and within ivory tower, think tanks and among the chattering classes who inhabit news and social media), and the fault lines of social, ethnic, religious, economic, and sub-national divisions became much clearer.
It is only within that quite specific context, and at this stage in the development of our federal Republic, that we can intelligently and rigorously approach the question—“will Donald Trump be a Good president?” My answer is yes. To understand this answer it is necessary first to understand what I mean by “good president”, and then to see how Mr. Trump has the potential to fall within the parameters of that definition.
A good president is a person who is incapable of developing a viable personality cult around himself. The most dangerous presidents in this Republic are those whose personality far exceeded the constraints of their office. An individual who serves the office better serves the Republic than one for whom the office serves him (eventually her). A good president starkly serves as a mirror of ourselves—with all of our faults—and as a base for self-improvement. A good president is one that forces the nation to confront its own weaknesses and failures, and to rigorously confront the realities and limits of our ideologies, aspirations, methods and consequences.
A good president serves as a constant reminder that the nation is not dependent on the office of the president the way subject peoples are taught to believe in their dependence on their leaders. A good president reminds us constantly by the parade of his faults, ambitions, vanity, and service of personal agendas, both the value of fractured power within the federal government and the value of power sharing among the federal and state governments. In all these senses, Mr. Trump will be a good president.
No, Donald Trump Will be a Bad President
On the Fence