In the mid-1990s there was a lot of talk in Washington about “triangulation.” The brainchild of Bill Clinton adviser Dick Morris, triangulation referred to Clinton’s strategy, after losing the House and Senate in 1994, of steering a course between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats in Congress.
Clinton didn’t have a lot of choice. Elected with only 43 percent of the vote (but a big electoral majority of 370 votes) in a 1992 election that included populist challenger Ross Perot, Clinton threw away much of his support early on by pursuing a massive health care reform plan voters didn’t want. In the 1994 midterms, Democrats lost both House and Senate (the House for the first time in more than 40 years) in the Gingrich revolution. Clinton got the message and moved toward the center.
Now Trump is taking office after winning 46 percent and a solid electoral majority of 304 votes. (Trump of course originally won 306 but lost two to faithless electors.) Republicans control the House and Senate. The question is whether Trump will pursue policies voters want him to pursue.
How to do that? By keeping his campaign promises. A new poll by the Wall Street Journal shows the public is eager for Trump to enact many of the things he promised from the stump. …
… The top, number-one, most important right-now issue cited by those surveyed: “Keeping U.S. jobs from going overseas.” Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed said it was an absolute priority right now, with only 16 percent saying it can be delayed until next year, and five percent saying it should not be pursued.
Number two on the most important list: “Reducing the influence of lobbyists and big money in politics,” with 66 percent saying it’s a right-now issue, 26 percent saying it can be delayed a year, and seven percent saying it should not be pursued. …
… Does anything look familiar about that list? It’s basically an outline of a Trump campaign speech. It’s a road map for a president who didn’t win the popular vote to become a broadly popular leader.
It’s also not what the leaders of either party in Congress, especially the Republicans who control Capitol Hill, want to do right now, or at least not in the order they want to do it. If Trump follows the Hill GOP, he’ll spend his critical early months in office cutting taxes and repealing Obamacare — things he needs to do, but probably not in those early days when the world will be watching his every move.