Trump's second term? Not worth freaking out about
You've heard it so often that you may well believe it's true: President Donald Trump's second term would be a disaster, for the Democratic Party, for the United States, for democracy itself. "The reelection of Donald Trump," warns Nancy Pelosi, "would do irreparable damage to the United States."
But would it really?
Exceptions are a normal part of history, but the record suggests that Trump would not be one of the few presidents who get much done during their second terms. There are three reasons for the sophomore slump:
By definition, political honeymoons expire (well) before the end of a president's first term. Elections have consequences in the form of policy changes that make good on campaign promises. But turning a pledge into reality comes at a cost. Capital gets spent; promises are broken; alliances shatter. Oftentimes, those changes prove disappointing. Recent example: Obamacare. Voters often express their displeasure by punishing the party that controls the White House with losses in Congress in midterm elections.
The permanent campaign fed by the 24-7 news cycle makes lame ducks gimpier than ever. Before a president gets to take his or her second oath of office, news media and future hopefuls are already looking four years ahead.
Scandals usually come home to roost during second terms. It's tough to push laws through a Congress that is dragging top officials through one investigation after another.
I'm not suggesting that President Trump deserves a second term. He didn't deserve a first one. He's a terrible person and an awful president.
What I'm saying is that it is more likely than not that he has already done most of the damage he can do.
Pundits and Democratic politicians have been pushing a self-serving narrative that implies that everything Trump has done so far was merely a warmup for the main event, that he would want and be able to go even further if November 2020 goes his way.
That doesn't make sense. Who in their right mind thinks Trump has been holding anything back? Which president has failed to go big within a year or two?