Anyone who knows me is well aware that I have had serious problems with the candidacies of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and that like most other people I did not predict a Trump victory. If Clinton had won, there would have been relatively few surprises in the weeks ahead, but there is far more uncertainty about what Trump’s path will be upon assuming the White House. I think there are two scenarios that could happen in the months to come, and one of them is vastly superior to the other.
Trump abdicates most of the job of the presidency to his staff. It is possible that Trump actually has no desire to do the more routine elements of the presidency, and that he will have people like Mike Pence do the hard work. This would lead to a fairly convention presidency, despite occasional outbursts from Trump.
During the entire campaign, Trump had one key decision that fell entirely in his hands: his VP pick. Choosing someone like Chris Christie would have been very “Trumpian,” but he went with a conventional and boring pick by going with Pence in the end.
In the last few days of the campaign, Trump actually ran a fairly disciplined campaign, and his aides even took away his Twitter account from him. This clearly shows that he is capable of being a “conventional” politician when it is necessary for him to be one.
If Trump appoints figures who were not his key loyalists throughout the campaign, this could very well be what happens. He just announced that Pence is taking over his transition team from Christie. Additionally, if Trump appoints someone like Kelly Ayotte to a key position, this scenario is increasingly likely. Ayotte recently conceded her Senate race that she lost by a fraction of a percentage point and she had abandoned Trump towards the end of the race, so going with her would be a sign that he will not engage in petty vendettas. Likewise, picking someone like Mark Kirk to lead the Veterans Affairs Department would be welcome news.
Paul LePage is Maine’s governor, and he provides a glimpse at what a Trump presidency could be like if he doesn’t change at all. LePage was an early endorser of Trump, and he has likened himself to Trump in a lot of ways over the course of the campaign. LePage won an incredibly crowded Republican primary in 2010 and has been elected and reelected as Governor of Maine despite a series of controversies. In the course of his tenure, LePage has gotten into hot water for a litany of things that he has said, including indirectly telling Barack Obama to “go to hell,” saying he wanted to “blow [the Press Herald] up” while on a flight simulator, and pondering bringing the guillotine back as a method of execution for drug dealers, and more.
LePage’s tenure has been marked by tensions with the legislature, and this could easily happen if Trump tries to push for items that the House and Senate have no interest in considering, and vice versa. In Maine, there was even an attempt by the State House to impeach LePage, although it failed and was only supported by the more liberal members of the Democratic caucus in the state.
The only indicator I have seen that this might happen after the election is the bizarre and worrying set of tweets that Trump sent out in the aftermath of protests against the election results. However, it is hopefully likely that Trump won’t be tweeting much, if at all, as president, as Ben Carson has suggested in the past.
These are the two main paths that I see a Trump presidency potentially taking. For the most part, I am optimistic and hopeful that Scenario 1 will be what happens, but the next few days will be critical in determining what kind of White House we are likely to see.