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Today is the Day Donald Trump Destroyed the Two-Party System

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I…what?

Now in the White House, President Trump demonstrated this past week that he still imagines himself a solitary cowboy as he abandoned Republican congressional leaders to forge a short-term fiscal deal with Democrats. Although elected as a Republican last year, Mr. Trump has shown in the nearly eight months in office that he is, in many ways, the first independent to hold the presidency since the advent of the current two-party system around the time of the Civil War.

There are two rather obvious problems with this argument:

  • Trump has, in fact, governed as an orthodox Republican.  His judicial and executive appointments have been orthodox Republicans. His legislative agenda has been orthodox Republicanism, even when the agenda items are massively unpopular and contradict his campaign promises. This rather minor deal with Schumer and Pelosi has gotten a lot of attention precisely because it’s so anomalous. 
  • Presidents negotiating with legislative leaders from the other party is completely banal behavior.  What makes it surprising, in this case, is precisely that Democrats have been systematically excluded from negotiations until now. This is more about changes in norms than Trump being particularly partisan, of course, but the idea that Trump has transcended partisanship is just mind-boggling.

I can’t wait for Baker’s article about how LBJ negotiating with Everett Dirksen to pass legislation proves that Johnson wasn’t really a Democrat.

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