The year just passed (thankfully) saw America go through a political whirlwind. Donald Trump, inaugurated at the beginning of 2017, had a chance to attempt to achieve the unity all new presidents seek. Instead, his inaugural speech was short, uninspiring and used the “America First” phrase as a rhetorical club. All inaugural addresses are an opportunity set a “tone” for a presidency, and Trump did.
It has been a harsh tone, marked on most mornings by tweets attacking his enemies and lingering on his resentments against Hillary Clinton, the opponent he despised fiercely, and his predecessor, Barack Obama, who after eight years of attacks from Republicans managed to leave office with strong approval ratings.
But Trump has obsessively pushed for the elimination of the Affordable Care Act, which he dimissively calls “Obamacare,” despite its growing popularity. And yes, despite the fact that ending it would leave more than 20 million Americans without health care. Even now, almost a year into his presidency, Trump seems preoccupied by Obama, resentful of his success and his charisma,
And he seems just as mad at Clinton, though his victory is more than a year old. His tweeting outbursts about “Crooked Hillary” are appalling to other world leaders who knew her as secretary of state, and his apparent ignorance of the impact of his words on the image of the United States is distressing, to put it mildly.
Yes, as 2018 has arrived, it’s impossible not to focus on the troubled presidency of Donald Trump, a presidency that could well come to a premature end if special counsel Robert Mueller presses on with the “Russia probe.”
But in North Carolina, a positive leadership change has come. Democrat Roy Cooper, long-time attorney general and former legislator, has been the target of budget-cutting and other attempts to weaken his office, but he’s carried on, bringing the state back from the economic harm done by HB2, the ridiculous bill restricting the rights of some in the LGBT community and limiting local governments in their aims to protect those rights. The law cost the state millions of dollars and thousands of jobs before a compromise was reached, and imperfect though it is, Cooper has been able to recruit new businesses after the HB2 lapse.
North Carolinians will look to 2018 not for radical change – Republicans are likely to retain power over the General Assembly given gerrymandering – but some gains by Democrats are likely, perhaps giving Cooper an effective veto, meaning one that cannot be overriden.
Yes, there’s more to life than politics. But as 2018 dawns it’s hard to escape the “Trump effect” from the courthouse to the state house.