You’ve probably heard the old adage “be careful what you ask for because you just may get it…”
Well, we got it.
But I’m not saying what you think I am. There’s no shortage of opinions already out there regarding the kind of president Donald Trump is and how he will ultimately be judged in the end. And, irrespective of his uneven start, I’m still behind him and hope he does well. I think it’s fair to say that we desperately needed some fresh ideas even if many of them are really the same ones we’ve always had just with a different shade of lipstick on. And after eight years of Barack Obama’s soft serve approach to governing, I’m open to just about anything at this point.
But my concern is what his election really means to the country after the next four years. Life post-Trump. Time will tell whether or not he can pass meaningful legislation on healthcare, immigration, and taxes among others. And we will see how he fares on the international stage as well.
But I’m looking at life after his term is up. And that is worrisome for a number of reasons. Primarily because his election has changed the way the game is played. It flipped U.S. politics on its head and changed the rules. And once his term in office is over, America will bare its new, no doubt angrier, political soul. And it’ll be nothing like it is today.
The country that my parents’ generation helped to build, as well as my own, now sits in front of an increasingly hostile jury awaiting a verdict. Let’s face it, the American people have changed. Demographically and ideologically. And now, as we watch the president unveil his agenda, successful or not, one has to wonder what comes next.
But despite appearances, Trump’s election did not necessarily indicate a new direction for the country. It was more of a knee jerk reaction to all of our ills. A giant, collective national belch after a big dinner of Barack Obama and the liberals for eight years. But the real story here isn’t that Trump won the election. That’s old news already. The real story is that it’s changed who we’re willing to accept as our commander in chief. It’s changed what kind of person we think is qualified to lead the country. It’s changed our expectations.
Now, because of Trump, running for president will be like an open casting call for a new Broadway show. Celebrities with some money, a few powerful friends, a brand name, and a giant ego can try out for the lead role. And you can be certain they will.
So, if you enjoyed the last election, you can be sure it will pale in comparison to the next one in 2020. Because with Trump’s victory, the proverbial genie is out of the bottle. And now, everything has changed. Especially the type of candidates that will run. Of course, the Elizabeth Warren’s, Cory Booker’s and Al Franken’s will always be in the mix. And they’ll all pose as fuming left wingers to get votes. But they won’t fool anyone this time around. Hillary saw to that. Because a centrist in a socialist’s uniform always stands out in the crowd.
The time has come for the new, post-Trumpian Democrat to take center stage. The outraged environmentalist. The marginalized candidate of color. LGBT candidates. Hollywood types. Sports figures. Media personalities. You name it. Pandora’s Box has been opened. And if the Democrats aren’t careful, they could very well suffer the same fate as Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush did in 2016. It was a brutal lesson for the GOP when Trump blindsided the party.
But remember this. People who run for office are nothing more than a reflection of ourselves. They come from your home town and mine, not from some far and distant planet. They’re us. They’re you and me. But the country is changing and we’ve reached a tipping point. The JFK Democrat of my generation is about to become part of the new Extinct Species exhibit at the Museum of Political History. Why? Easy. Because the Baby Boomers are aging and dying off. And now, the majority of the electorate will be younger, browner and significantly more liberal. And the millennials are going to want to vote for one of their own the next time around.
Just think of all the giant egos out there. All the actors. The rappers and rockers. The athletes. Other business moguls. The media talking heads. You know some of them are thinking “if Donald Trump could run for president why can’t I?” Kanye West already declared he wants to run in 2020. Oprah teased the prospect as well. Preposterous? Maybe. But, maybe not. And just as Trump became the Republican nominee in 2016, there is little doubt that other outlier candidates will begin to appear on the left now as well.
So, thanks to Donald Trump, everyone’s a possible presidential contender now. I can see it already. President De Niro? President Jay-Z? President Streep? Maybe Madame President Lady Gaga. President Jeff Bezos? President Rachel Maddow or Anderson Cooper? President Bill Gates? How about President LeBron or Clooney?
Scary, isn’t it? I suppose you think this can’t happen? Too far-fetched. Extreme. Well, they said that about Trump too, you might recall. And we all know how that story ended. So, buyer beware. In 2020, the Democrats are going to throw the kitchen sink at the Republicans. There will be all manner of seething candidates in the mix. And despite the popular rhetoric about how the Democrats abandoned the working class in 2016, they’re going to slide even further to the left. Because that’s who the millennials are. The older, centrist Democrats are fading away. And after four years of Donald Trump, you can bet the new Democrats will be energized and ready to rumble.
Now, as the Baby Boomers continue to age and shrink in number, and the millennials assert themselves more and more on the political stage, one thing is certain. Their generation will no longer support the establishment candidate or the political system that already failed them once before. And like the Republicans in 2016, the Democrats are ready to try something new. Someone new. A new prototype. So, get ready for President Whoopi. Or, maybe even President Springsteen for all you Rock and Rollers. Because in the end, Trump’s legacy may wind up being less about what he actually did as president, and more about how his candidacy turned our election process inside out and upside down and completely rewrote the rules of the game for generations to come.