Trump likely will be tested by the unexpected

Steve Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa.
Steve Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa.

With Hillary Clinton’s 2.83 million vote margin over Donald Trump, her supporters are convinced president Trump can’t succeed as he doesn’t have the majority of Americans’ support. Trump enthusiasts know he won 2,600 counties to Hillary’s 500, winning 83 percent of the geographic nation and therefore best represents “We the people.”

What American voters of all political stripes haven’t grasped, as Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal reports “ ... every politician since ancient Athens has run on hope to win office and power. Once past the voting, politics is about public policies, whose real-world effects either sustain or diminish hope. Hope is the helium-filled balloon of politics. Governing in office is the gravity that pulls it back to earth.”

Despite Mr. Trump’s declaration of his intelligence, business acumen of owning 144 companies in 25 countries, assembling the best Cabinet ever, $8.73 billion wealth, a Republican-controlled Congress and promise “to make America great again,” as Jay Winik, Council on Foreign Relations, suggests, “the president-elect will soon learn how little control he has over his agenda.”

Armchair critics are retorting “what agenda?” In accordance, Mr. Trump has not stated his goals for the first 100 days of office nor hopeful accomplishments by the end of his first two years in office. For now, let’s put that aside.

It might do Mr. Trump well to take a presidential history lesson. History is replete the presidency is often characterized by the unanticipated, not anticipated events.

With Abraham Lincoln’s surprise win in 1860, it had to be a greater shock for Lincoln to watch the South secede from the Union and the ensuing Civil War.

Other presidential unanticipated moments include:

• Herbert Hoover: Oct. 29, 1929 stock market crash

• Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor

• Harry Truman: deployed atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

• Dwight Eisenhower: Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R., Wis.) hearings on alleged communists in Eisenhower’s staff

• John F. Kennedy: Bay of Pigs fiasco and building of the Berlin Wall

• Lyndon Johnson: Vietnam and North Korea capturing Navy’s USS Pueblo

• Richard Nixon: Watergate and impeachment

• Gerald Ford: Cambodia seizing U.S. merchant ship Mayaguez

• Jimmy Carter: Iranians holding Americans hostage for 444 days

• Ronald Reagan: Russia’s Cold War, Grenada and Iran-Contra affair

• George H.W. Bush: Iraq invades Kuwait

• Bill Clinton: bombing of Oklahoma City federal building

• George W. Bush: 9/11 and beginning of the Great Recession

• Barack Obama: ISIS


In addition, Trump must contend with 535 members of Congress, hundreds of federal agencies and 50 state governments. As a businessman, Trump could walk away from a deal, fire employees at will, be an autocratic decision-maker and had bankruptcy as an option. This is no longer possible as president. As did 44 presidents before him, Trump soon will realize the limits of his power. His rhetoric will be a moot point. Sad!

America’s 325 million citizens should settle back and watch how Mr. Trump handles the unexpected. That will define his presidency.

• Steve Corbin, emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa, is one of 12 District Leaders in Iowa for the non-partisan and not-for-profit group No Labels. More information: Comments:



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