Donald Trump is who we thought he was.
The 45th president campaigned as a radical break from both politics and policy as usual in Washington, promising to restore strength to the White House and the country while ignoring all tradition and political correctness.
He spent the first week of his presidency doing just that — beginning with an executive order triggering the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, continuing through a midweek executive order to begin the process of building a wall along our southern border and culminating Friday with Trump’s executive order temporarily halting refugees from entering the country and instituting a full entrance ban on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
In between all of that, Trump again invoked his idea that millions of illegal votes had been cast in the 2016 election and pledged to get to the bottom of it.
And, through it all, he kept tweeting.
Here’s Trump on immigration: “Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world – a horrible mess!”
And here he is alleged vote fraud: “I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and….even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!”
Any one of these moves would have caused a furor among Democrats. The combination of all of these moves — and all of them being made within the first full week of the Trump presidency — sent people opposed to Trump’s agenda into an absolute frenzy.
That frenzy was defined by a single question: How can he be doing this?
The answer is simple, if noxious, to those who oppose Trump: He ran for president on exactly the sorts of ideas he has begun to implement as president.
Take, for one, the Muslim ban. Trump proposed the idea of temporarily halting Muslims from entering the U.S. in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino terror attacks in late 2015. He was widely pilloried for the proposals by the establishments of both parties — with Republican leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan and former Florida governor Jeb Bush insisting that such a proposal was the antithesis of conservatism.
Know who didn’t feel that way? Republican primary voters. Trump’s numbers surged in the wake of the proposed Muslim ban; it was the springboard that catapulted him from a modest front-runner in the race to the clear person to beat.
Trump talked less about the ban during the general election and tried to moderate the terms somewhat. But, he never abandoned it — or even came close. And so, when Trump signed an executive order on Friday that halts all refugees from entering the country and restricts entrance by all visitors from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, no one should really have been shocked.
Ditto Trump’s moves on the Affordable Care Act, the border wall and the totally unsubstantiated allegation that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton due to widespread voter fraud.
The assumption — even after Trump was elected — seems to be that he either a) didn’t really believe many of the things he said on the campaign trail or b) wouldn’t spend the political capital necessary to attempt their implementation.
The first week of the Trump presidency suggests that those assumptions were deeply misguided. Trump meant exactly what he said and appears totally committed to executing on the campaign promises he made in spite of the furor they might cause.
But it’s more than that too. This Trump is the Trump who won 306 electoral votes and almost 63 million votes. (Yes, I am aware Clinton got almost 66 million.) People voted for this Trump. He did almost nothing — far less than your average politician — to obfuscate or fudge his views.
While he didn’t attach a ton of specifics to his proposals, it’s very hard for me to believe that the vast majority of people who voted for Trump expected anything other than what they got from him in this first week. In fact, they are likely overjoyed that Trump — unlike most pols — is doing what he said he would.
None of the above is to invalidate or undermine those who oppose Trump. Their objections — and willingness to act on them via protests, petitions and legal means — is at the heart of a healthy democracy.
My point is only this: Trump is governing almost exactly how he said he would during a campaign that he won. No one should be surprised.