It's one of the greatest examples of "careful what you wish for" in political history: President Obama is going to be replaced by the kind of Republican he's always said he wanted.
For the entirety of his presidency, Obama has insisted that he is a pragmatist, not an ideologue. Indeed, he seems to think that ideology is a dirty word. "What is required," Obama declared the day before his first inauguration, "is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives -- from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry -- an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels."
As a confessed ideologue, I've always taken offense at the suggestion that ideology -- i.e., a fixed set of principles -- deserves to be listed alongside prejudice, bigotry and small thinking. Moreover, as a conservative, I've always found laughable the idea that Obama is not an ideologue.
Going into the
"No, it's not going to be the Trump doctrine," Trump said in April. "Because in life, you have to be flexible. You have to have flexibility. You have to change. You know, you may say one thing and then the following year you want to change it, because circumstances are different."
A few days later, he told his supporters in
His surrogates echoed the sentiment. Investor
Hedge fund mogul
The closest Trump comes to a rigid set of political principles is on the issue of trade. He has been making the same protectionist arguments about trade for more than 30 years. And despite the fact that the
Obama came into office wanting to be a transformative president. He almost certainly failed -- many of his prize accomplishments likely won't survive the next
Trump, though, really might try the case-by-case approach, which we'll soon find is more disorienting than refreshing. His "flexibility" on numerous issues -- infrastructure, entitlements, industrial policy, day care and who knows what else in the years to come -- means we won't know what to expect.
For good or ill, then, Trump could be the "transformative" president Obama always wanted to be -- the president who gets us past partisan ideology by doing away with principle.
One can already hear the ideological supports of both parties groaning under the weight of Trump's pragmatism. If one party collapses as a result, both will likely topple over. What replaces them is anyone's guess, but no one will deny that a transformation took place.