Why won’t the White House publish its visitor logs? Because any Democrat or business executive who meets with President Trump will be attacked on social media for “collaborating” with the enemy. (Disney CEO Bob Iger, who was blasted for participating in a Trump advisory council, is a great example.) As a result, Team Trump has chosen to grant some guests privacy.
Meanwhile, by insisting on this extreme hostility and resistance, the Left has foregone an enormous opportunity to influence policy under this president even though Donald Trump is open to suggestion.
As Democrats have comfortably settled into their new role as the Party of No, some say the formerly obstructionist Republicans are getting their just desserts. But there is one stark difference between President Obama and President Trump, which suggests the Democratic strategy is self-defeating. It is this: Trump wants input, and Obama did not.
At the business-focused Milken Global Conference taking place this week in Los Angeles, speaker after speaker commented on the many confabs that President Trump has held with leaders of all sorts of industries, as well as with top labor officials and political chiefs.
Andrew Liveris, Chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical, said he was “stunned” at the first meeting that he and a dozen other executives had with the president. “We weren’t used to the president sitting through the whole session,” he recounted. “President Trump had to excuse himself to take a phone call, but then came back and proceeded to ask each individual about his company, his particular problems.”
Trump made it clear, Liveris said, that “everything was on the table” in his bid to boost the economy and create jobs.
That includes job training, for instance, and also lightening the regulatory burden, which Liveris said for manufacturers had soared from $9,500 per employee in 2008 to $19,900 today.
Chris Liddell, head of the president’s Office of American Innovation, said the president had met with over 200 business and thought leaders, many of whom “had not been in the White House for a long time and had been paid at best lip service by the prior administration.” He said that Trump wanted Americans to know that “You have a voice in the White House and we’re open to your ideas.” Asked whether anything specific had come out of such gatherings, Liddell noted that the administration had undertaken a review of Obama’s last-minute changes in CAFÉ standards after meeting with auto executives.
Trump is a political neophyte and has shown flexibility on numerous issues. Having never before run for office, he has few fixed notions on a wide range of policy matters, which is why we have seen him change his mind on taking the daily intel briefings or how to treat young Dreamers, for example. Much to the frustration to some on the right, he is not an ideologue; instead, he’s a deal maker.
Obama was the opposite. In his book The Long Game, Mitch McConnell describes Obama this way: “He’s like the kid in your class who exerts a hell of a lot of effort making sure everyone thinks he’s the smartest one in the room. He talks down to people, whether in a meeting among colleagues in the White House or addressing the nation. Almost without exception, President Obama begins serious policy discussions by explaining why everyone else is wrong. After he assigns straw men to your views, he enthusiastically attempts to knock them down with a theatrically earnest re-litigation of what you’ve missed about his brilliance.”
McConnell was not alone in that assessment. Some of the few business leaders invited to meet with President Obama during his White House years report that he barely paid attention to the conversation, and never followed up with questions, much less policy. His views were unshakeable.
President Trump has made a point of meeting not only with representatives of the business community but also with labor leaders, the liberal media, and even the not-so-loyal opposition. He even has a sit-down with Al Gore for heaven’s sake. We have seen him respond to those conversations by changing his approach to NAFTA and to the future of the Ex-Im Bank, for instance.
Trump also invited the Congressional leadership – Democrat and Republican – early on to the White House. He met with the leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus in March. That group’s chairman Cedric Richmond said afterward, “He listened, and we talked, and we proposed a lot of solutions, many of which I think he had not heard before, and we’re going to keep advocating.”
That’s a lesson for other Democrats, one they have not absorbed. Instead, they continue to stonewall the Trump White House, hurting the country, and their own party’s prospects. According to a Rasmussen poll conducted in late February, “Most voters in nearly every demographic category think it’s bad for the country and bad for Democrats if they totally oppose Trump and his agenda.”
Even President Obama warned against a rigid policy of non-cooperation after the election. Nonetheless, Democrats are intransigent, worried that groups like We Will Replace You will challenge incumbents caught working with Trump who are up for reelection in 2018. The liberal wing of the party is ascendant, trying to convert the excitement of anti-Trump rallies and demonstrations into wins on election day. For that to happen, Democrats must come up with policies and a platform that the country can rally behind.
Currently, Rasmussen reports that 42 percent of likely voters think the country is headed in the right direction. Last year under Obama, that figure was 26 percent. President Trump may not have high approval ratings, but if people think his efforts to lighten the tax and regulatory burden on employers will boost the economy and job creation, they will stick with him. And they most assuredly will punish those who stand in his way.
Published on TheFiscalTimes.com.