Donald Trump didn’t waste any time getting started on his ambitious agenda. His first 72 hours in office have been defined by a frenetic pace, firing off executive orders, meeting with various groups, and setting out some broad parameters for his legislative agenda.
Sadly, if you read the media, you’d hardly know about any of it. The majority of the presses’ ink thus far has been spilled writing about the relative size of the crowds gathered for Donald Trump’s and Barack Obama’s inaugurations. As if that wasn’t silly enough, another news cycle was spent discussing White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s response to the pointless story.
But the media’s blatant attempts to delegitimize the president by focusing on non-issues, is a sideshow. What matters is the president living up to his promises to the American people.
His first order of business was signing a trio of executive actions that demonstrate how different Trump is than the dogmatic political insiders of recent years. First, he pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, a non-traditional Republican move, but one Trump called a “[g]reat thing for the American worker.” Next he following President Ronald Reagan’s example and issued a government-wide hiring freeze, which will control the growth of government until Congress can pass longer-term reforms. And thirdly, he issued an executive order to reinstate the ban on sending government funds to international organizations that provide or promote abortions.
Together, the three orders offered something for the constituencies that made up his unique base of support. Blue collar workers were heartened by his more skeptical stance on trade, fiscal conservatives cheered the first steps toward reducing the size and scope of government, and social conservatives were happy to see him standing up for the rights of the unborn.
The outreach didn’t stop there. Trump then met with business leaders, whom he wooed with promises of reduced regulation and lowered taxes, and then warned with threats of a “very major” border tax on companies that shift jobs outside the United States.
Immediately thereafter engaged in a “listening session” with labor leaders and members to get their ideas about how to re-energize American manufacturing.
“We believe that Trump really is going to put America first,” McGarvey, the Building Trades Union chief, told The Washington Post. “I’ve been around this town long enough to know things are said in the heat of battle. The details we just heard from the president, we’re very excited about that.”
The meetings once again demonstrated Trump’s unique approach to coalition building. One minute he can be talking to the CEOs of Ford, SpaceX, and Under Armour, and the next he can be talking to blue collar trade union workers. In the previous political paradigm, which viewed things through the lens of conservatism and liberalism, these meetings would rarely happen, and if they did, they’d be attempts at proselytization. But Trump’s “America first” mantra cuts through dogmatic policy conversations and instead seeks an approach that lifts all boats. It allows him to speak of cutting “regulations by 75 percent” and also imposing a very major border tax,” without politically contradicting himself.
The next day he backed up that talk with further action. Trump issued a freeze on all pending regulations until his administration had a chance to review them, a move cheered by businesses that have been forced to invest billions in regulatory compliance that could have otherwise been spent hiring workers and manufacturing products.
The president then signed a par of executive actions that could speed up approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects, which had been either rejected or delayed by President Obama. The move was cheered by some labor leaders, who see it as portentous of Trump’s bold approach to energy and infrastructure.
“[Obama] cares more about kowtowing to green-collar elitists than he does about creating desperately needed, family-supporting, blue-collar jobs,” Terry O’Sullivan, the president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America said on a call with reporters. He also noted that his discussion with Trump was “by far the best meeting I have ever participated in.”
That’s something that labor leaders have rarely said about a Republican president, but if these first few days have proven anything it’s that Trump’s agenda can’t be defined by politics. Instead, it’s focused on people, namely, helping as many of them as possible to achieve the American Dream.