This is Part One of our 12-part-series of “Trump-Eds,” or Trump Editorials. This series draws largely from the Great Courses Series, “Great American Presidents,” by Professor Allan Lichtman, who has been interviewed many times by news media outlets about Trump’s potential.
What is “greatness?” “Greatness” is a subjective term. For instance, if Donald Trump (R-NY) returned the country, as Democrats believe, back to the 1950s era and attitudes, then it would be “great” for American businessmen, but not so “great” for American women. Thus, a better word to use is “significant.”
The President governs at the “consent of the people,” something that Donald Trump needs to wary of, especially since he lost the popular vote – though he played by the rules and won the Presidency according to the system currently in play (the electoral college).
The American Presidency was founded on “audacity,” which Trump has plenty of. What has made this position significant is that they often come in with a vision. Donald Trump does have a vision. It is markedly limited, mainly that of making “America Great Again,” and actually does have a vision for what the wall along the Mexican border (which he’s promised to build) would look like, and who would pay for it. Beyond this vision, it’s never been articulated in specific, and it is vague by design. As far as an overall “doctrine,” Trump’s seems to be one of more delegation and trusting those with more knowledge than him to make decisions.
A new Presidency is always marked by a “peaceful transition of power.” While President Barack Obama (D-IL) and Trump have feuded over a vision to a country as the transition continues, there has been no military interference nor other violent obstacles that have affected the transition.
Sex and power come into play with several of the significant Presidents. We can point to Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy are good examples of this. Donald Trump has had this throughout his entire adult life, whether from the rather lewd sexual discussion that took place on the set of Access Hollywood, or to being a CEO with the ability to fire any employee.
This brings us to the final element, which is that when President have been significant, it’s been at the “pivot point of world history,” according to Professor Allan Lichtman. With Russian (and other outside) interference, an underdog victory that very few media outlets saw coming, and a communication style unique for the 21st century, Donald Trump certainly has become President at a pivot point of some sort. Donald Trump’s decisions, like or not, have the power to influence US History.
Our conclusion is that Donald Trump embodies several factors that have made up prior significant Presidents. However, he (currently) is deficient on having a vision or doctrine. This is perhaps the most significant, glaring problem with his potential to be a significant President. As we inch closer to January 20th, if President-Elect Trump wants to be truly significant President, then he must have a concrete vision, and he must be able to articulate this vision, if not to the American people, then to his advisors. If he cannot do this, then he will not be a significant President.