The year 2020 continues to surprise. But why would we expect anything different, especially in the penultimate week of an apocalyptic year.
Everywhere things seem iffy, and the White House is not immune to this uncertainty. President Trump not only vetoed a massive defense bill on December 23rd, but then he threatened to do the same to a pandemic relief bill the day after Christmas. Did President Donald Trump really just bypass the Center with two sweeping progressive strides to the Left?
Regardless of how this long-awaited pandemic relief is eventually realized, wouldn’t it make more sense for a recently defeated incumbent to go out in good standing with his GOP base? Why would he publicly leverage Executive power to ensure that hurting Americans receive $2000 in direct payments when the leadership in both political parties stand in opposition?
Did the breakneck speed of news, polling, and social media weigh on POTUS’ decision to break away in his final days in the Oval Office? Quite possibly. But history provides us with another possible explanation.
Look no further than the Great Depression. Historians note how the “The First Hundred Days” set the tone for Franklin Delano Roosevelt being re-elected three times. Said another way, FDR’s bold and swift response to a lingering Depression helped restore confidence in a decimated nation, earning the long-term trust of American voters.
An estimated 150,000 spectators gather on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 1933, in this unique aerial view.
Given the downward spiral we currently find ourselves in, it's not absurd to think that most Americans agree with Trumpian logic here. If one stimulus check in the Spring was inadequate, they surely do not want to be the recipients of Congressional leftovers for a second go-round. Has Trump correctly read the room, or is he demonstrating a knowledge of history and choosing wisely in order to preserve his legacy? Has he been advised to study the reaction of past Presidents to national emergencies similar in scale? If so, he would quickly discover that FDR once received over 98% of the electoral vote total in a re-election bid shortly after the Great Depression. The New Deal factored into that widespread popularity and there is a strong possibility that a political aspirant like Donald Trump is now keenly aware of it.
Detractors may insist that Donald Trump is merely suffering from “white knight syndrome”, once again promising improvement to fellow Americans. After all, he ran twice on a slogan that revolved around making and keeping a country great.
Only time will tell. Whatever the reason, stay safe and let’s keep hoping for a better 2021.