Trump's Luck - by Jerry Jasinowski
We tend to minimize luck in human affairs because it belies the importance of intelligence, hard work and determination. But random chance does play a role in life. Success and failure are often determined by forces beyond our - or anyone's - control.
It does seem to me that Donald Trump, as befits a man who builds casinos, has been on an amazing winning streak. His initial foray into the presidential sweepstakes was treated as a joke by the professional political class. But in the nominating cycle he found himself a live wire up against a bland backdrop of charisma deficient retreads who pecked away at each other in dreary mud fights, enabling Trump to stand out as interesting. His personality was not to everyone's taste, but at least he had one and it commanded the stage.
The news media was generous in its disdain for Trump, but totally unanimous in its fascination for his madcap antics and off-the-cuff comments. He seemed oblivious to normal political sensibilities. In the final analysis, the news media is irresistibly drawn to the outrageous. Journalists may have disdained him in private but they gave him the spotlight day after day until millions of people became convinced that this one guy had what it takes to challenge the vested interests and disrupt the status quo.
In the election campaign, Trump lucked out again when he faced an opponent with substantial baggage and much less affinity for the spotlight. In a time when the majority of the electorate clearly wanted change, Hillary Clinton represented the old guard. She was well armed with policy positions, but offered no economic vision that spoke to the pain and anxiety about the future that many people feel.
Now as Trump assumes the Oval Office one can only wonder if Lady Luck is still clinging to his arm. The fringe Republicans who were eager to put him in his place stumbled out of the gate with that proposal to kill the Ethics Committee, and Trump swatted them down with a tweet. So now we have the odd spectacle of Trump defying the Washington establishment in defense of ethics. That is another stroke of luck for Trump.
Better yet, Trump has inherited a decent economy on the upswing. When Obama first came into office, the economy was in freefall and the world financial system was on the brink of collapse. He had to spend his first few years digging the nation out of a hole. But today unemployment is down and falling and that, fairly or not, will work to Trump's benefit.
Trump must now somehow finesse Obamacare but even here fortune has dealt him a winning hand. The intense opposition to Obamacare was never about the law itself, but rather about Obama. But something must replace Obamacare. This is an excellent opportunity for Trump to propose something he has endorsed in the past -- a single-payer health insurance system based on Medicare that covers everyone. I would not be a bit surprised if he did just that.
But as every gambler knows, good luck can turn bad quickly. Trump's embrace of Putin could blow up in his face. He is skating on thin ice.
Jerry Jasinowski, an economist and author, served as President of the National Association of Manufacturers for 14 years and later The Manufacturing Institute. You can quote from this with attribution. Let me know if you would like to speak with Jerry. January 2017