Earlier this month, Trump slipped a dagger between the ribs of the stock market, a market that had been riding high since his election, by confirming fears of a trade war with China. The market reacted as expected. A week ago, he signed the “omnibus” spending monstrosity, with mewling protestations of “never again!” Yeah, sure. And, yesterday, word came that he was sharpening his knife with Amazon in mind. Again, the market reacted poorly.

2017 was the year of Good-Trump, as far as the stock market and the broader economy went. A few favoritism hiccups aside, Trump made good on campaign promises to deregulate, to be more business-friendly, and to cut taxes. 2018, on the other hand, has so far been the year of Bad-Trump, economically. There’s great peril for Trump, should he continue in that vein.

A good economy absolves many sins in the eyes of many voters. Wonks pay attention to the big picture, but lunch bucket joes are as apt to ask “am I in good shape economically?” and vote based on that alone. With mid-term elections a mere 7 months away, continuing to make bad, big-government moves against the economy is more apt to do in his party’s majority in the House than any of the scandals the Left and Press continue to slobber over.

Without the perception of a strong economy, Trump’s GOP will not have a good turnout. Even some of his die-hards might fall into apathy. That turnout is critical to keeping the House in his party’s hands, and thus critical to the second half of his term. For it is almost without doubt that, should the Dems take the House in November, 2019 and 2020 will be about two things: impeaching Trump, whether Mueller finds anything or not, and standing in the way of anything he wants to do. There will be two years of groundwork for a Democratic presidential win in 2020.

Without a strong economic record to tout, what will Trump and the GOP run on? “We’re not Democrats?” Not particularly inspiring, especially since the horror of Clinton’s name won’t appear on any ballots. So, Trump deeply imperils the balance of his presidency by not being the small-government guy he hinted at last year. This was all predictable, but predictions are not certitudes, and he gave us a pretty good year on the money front.

He’s still got time to restore a portion of the good feeling he recently snuffed. It won’t all come back, because he’s now introduced new uncertainty, and validated fears of his Bad-Trump ideas. While some think that all this tariff stuff is simply business maneuvering (or multidimensional chess – as if plain old chess isn’t strategic enough), an economy is not an individual business, and trade wars are pretty universally a Bad Idea.

But, he’s shown little inclination to change his mind, and I’m not expecting that to be any different going forward. Individuals and our political parties are quite good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and where just a few months back, it looked like Trump was going to cruise comfortably through the midterms and even have a solid chance at winning in 2020, based on his actions in 2017, he’s changed all that with a few big-government moves that imperil it all.

If the opposition party offered some positive ideas on the economic front, I’d not mind as much that Trump was killing his golden goose. But, that party’s obsessive focus on unseating Trump, even it means exaggerating the picayune, is distressing. The health of the Republic will be far better served if he serves out his term and the voters decide whether to keep him or not come 2020. Meanwhile, despite his penchant for wild and destabilizing statements and tweets, a few good things came out of this administration last year. I want more of those. Trump should respect what went well for him last year, not destroy it.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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