Will Trump moderate his controversial policies?

Will Trump moderate his controversial policies?

  • Does the modern presidency accentuate the partisanship of the American president?
  • President Trump’s views remain at best oblique, which may confuse and anger many people
  • Trump’s hubristic self-congratulations will not diminish the crisis of legitimacy debilitating America’s political institutions

Will President Trump eventually moderate his political and economic views or will he remain a polarized and contentious chief executive?

Presidential scholars assert that the presidency tends to restore a more centrist presidential leadership in the long run. This policy repositioning was mostly true for more than a century.

Is it true today? Does the modern presidency accentuate the partisanship of the American president? Does it constrain the resident of the White House to resort to less centrist views and domestic and foreign policies?

The president is elected by popular vote (although that’s debatable because of the Electoral College) and is prone to see issues from a national perspective.

Since the chief executive is elected by a nationwide constituency, he has a propensity to gradually lean toward the preferences of the median voter.

The national median voter is inclined to be more moderate than median voters in congressional districts throughout the country. The president, after all, represents the collective will of the American people.

Political scientists put forward three theories as to why the presidency may not moderate a president’s less centrist views: 1) presidents project the partisan views of the political party; 2) they have become the target of the opposition party thus enhancing the significance of the tug-of-war in the nation’s capital; and 3) the gradual disappearance of the modern median voter because of a deepening polarization of the electorate.

Since presidents do not want Congress to lead the country, more often than not they highlight the partisan preferences of their party.

Although the presidency may temper some of the more radical policy preferences of the chief executive, it may also help him assert his proposals more decisively.


The modern presidency, which was established by FDR in the 1930s, seems to enhance the political inclinations of the president.

With the growth of the executive branch during the FDR administration, the presidency began to moderate less and less the partisan leanings of the president.

Some in the mainstream media are criticizing today’s political elites for seducing and ensnaring the average American by imposing ideologies on a public that is centrist and pragmatic. However, is the average American centrist and pragmatic? Recent scholarship is still inconclusive and results widely fluctuate.

More often than not the president is blamed for foisting his values and policies on others, sowing the seeds of the mobilization and radicalization of the opposition.

Sometimes presidents must walk a tightrope, balancing the convergent and insurgent dimensions of their party.

Leaders, especially presidents, who are so fearful of compromise that they are willing to excommunicate anyone who proposes different ideas on how to improve society, will eventually lose their moral voice.

Many in the United States believe that President Trump will eventually distance himself from his more radical and controversial policies.

But an effective and functional democracy should be invigorated by those partisan differences, rather than trying to sidestep them. In many quarters democratic values are maligned because they allow and encourage ideological tensions and partisan differences.

If President Trump fails to bulldoze his agenda (so far he had little success), he needs to relearn the brute and sometimes unsavory political skill of compromise in order for the government to govern effectively and address the critical socioeconomic issues plaguing this country.


Is Trump a zealot who is fueled by dogmatic ideological convictions and seeks to win the whole truth or a pragmatic who is mainly a power seeker and will do anything, including making compromises and altering the original presidential agenda, to keep it?

The chief executive is mired in unpopularity, nepotism, and ineptitude. Even some successful attempts at repealing the Affordable Care Act, the military strikes against a Syrian airbase, and the escalation of political and military tension in the Korean Peninsula will hardly have a significant impact on his callow, amateurish, and ineffective governance and leadership abilities.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s decisive victory last month constituted, according to some commentators, “the first significant blow against the populist wave.” British Prime Minister Theresa May’s sluggish performance at the polls a few weeks later also suggest that populism, the anti-liberal version, is perhaps losing some momentum.

A Trumpian learning curve will slowly emerge and might metamorphose the occupant of the White House, perhaps, in a subtle way. Will this also encourage the president’s worst tendencies toward intolerance and obscenely increasing economic inequality?

President Trump’s views remain at best oblique, which may confuse and anger many people.

Would this be a counterintuitive remapping of the moderation theory or a way to imagine and inhabit a more livable future in a more equitable and caring society?

The much-celebrated “forgotten man” had been at the forefront of Trump’s presidential campaign. But isn’t that utterly antithetical to the notion of electing a president based on Electoral College votes, a practice more in accordance with a royal court or political patronage.

Trump’s hubristic self-congratulations will not diminish the crisis of legitimacy debilitating America’s political institutions. If anything, Trump’s election intensified the profound sentiment that they are corrupt and rigged for the benefit of a small group of people. The democratic process is actually empowering elites at the expense of the public.

In Against democracy, Jason Brennan asserts that most Americans are abysmally ignorant when it comes to political matters. Is this one of the fundamental issues and flaws of democracy? The citizens have the freedom to choose among many candidates and policies, and yet they are deeply ignorant and lack critical information to make a reasonable choice.

The thinned, diminished texture of democratic choice and its attendant issues and challenges make the appeal of democracy ever more elusive.

Some political scientists contend that the history of democratic thought is tainted by too much romanticism, a sort of delusion, that is deleterious to a realistic functioning of a democratic society.

Trump is faced with the fraught and challenging act of crafting both a public identity and image and private conscience and ethos. He needs to be less of the self-harming masochistic version of himself, of course, if he is able to do so.


As Americans, we have no option but to confront our own divisions and conflict and hope to overcome them, one way or another, without tearing the fabric of our society.

Are the United States and Europe in the grip of an existential crisis, like the pro-Trump voters used to vociferate during the presidential campaign? The answer is probably no.

The Democratic Party, which is still reeling from Hillary Clinton’s Electoral College defeat, is trying to reframe its fragmented image and repackage its ambiguous and precarious socioeconomic agenda.

The Democratic Party needs to focus more on the plight of the working class people, both in California and Wyoming. When soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice, they die for the whole country, both for the farmer in Kansas and the lawyer in New York.

It seems that there are massive divisions in the Democratic Party. Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ supporters are gradually seizing control of the Democratic Party’s establishment, which is flooded with corporate money of dubious provenance and questionable benefit for the labor movement.

Although social issues have a certain degree of urgency and gravity, the major emphasis of the Democratic Party should be on the paramount economic and political matters that are gripping this polarized and paralyzed nation.

Otherwise, What’s the matter with Kansas? will spread like wildfire and further hurt and cripple the Democratic Party. It’s time for the likes of Bernie Sanders to step in and turn the rage against the Democratic Party’s machine into a more dynamic, constructive, and relevant grassroots movement.








About the author

Vahe Tcharkhoutian is the founder and editor of Los Angeles Intelligence. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Political Science [American Politics] and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Administration. He currently teaches in Glendale, California.