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How Trump already has changed politics

By Norwalk Reflector Staff • Updated Jan 20, 2017 at 2:20 PM

The president’s job is to shape our country. That’s what he or she does from the time they campaign until the time they leave office four or eight years later.

This past campaign has shaped our view of politics, the presidency and how they each affect our lives. Trump’s presidency, like others before him, could as well, said Stephanie Walls, associate professor of political science at Bowling Green State University, Firelands campus.

“In the modern era he’s a pretty unique president elect in many ways he’s still learning about what he wants to accomplish as president,” Walls said.

“I think on a number of topics he’s expressed a range of positions. What’s unique about him is he doesn't always adhere to his party's platform. It makes it harder for voters and citizens, as far as his policy stance. In the past, politicians stuck a little closer to party lines whereas (Trump) is more comfortable with expressing his own opinion.

Walls was asked to consider how this election might impact the ways she teaches American government moving forward.

Use of public opinion polls

“I think that already just from the campaign, there is a lot we can learn from. For instance, the use of public opinion polls. A lot of my teaching about public opinion polls changed because of their unreliability in this past election.”

The role of political parties

“The roles of political parties are at a new level. For several decades now we’ve been moving away from political party control over the nomination and election process. I don’t think that’s something that happened over night, but this campaign was more candidate-driven than in the past. I think it’s changing the way we look at parties and the role parties play.”

Candidates have had for more control in these processes, due in part to the use of technology.

“The fact that the president would be on Twitter, that makes him more accessible in that way; it changes the tone of politics,” Walls said.

“We also have politicians speaking a lot more candidly than in the past. There’s a lot less sugar coating. And I guess it would depend on someone’s independent opinion if that’s good or bad. There are arguments for both sides.”

Walls stressed, however, this has been a gradual change, dating back to the 1990s and the presidency of Bill Clinton.

“We’ve already seen a change in the tone of politics, Walls said. “We’ve seen politics become more informal than in the past. Again, this didn’t happen overnight. We saw Bill Clinton playing a saxophone and people were like ‘what’s going on?’”

Use of executive power

“I think between President Obama and President-elect Trump, presidential power will be in question,” Walls said, adding these things could help mold the future of how are country not only views its politics, but how it uses it.

“Executive power was used more in the past few years with Congress than before,” she said. “And Trump’s been very critical of Obama’s use of executive power with Congress. I guess we’ll have to see if Trump will be more reluctant to use it now or if once he has access to it it won’t look so bad.”

Overall impact of the Trump presidency

Like with any presidency, there are aspects that could affect the lives of every citizen in the country.

“I think that’s something we’ll have to wait and see,” Walls said. “Obviously Congress has been vocal about repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). That will cause changes for millions of people.

“I think Trump’s foreign policy could affect a lot of people. If we engaged in increased military action, that would have a lot of impact on people’s lives.”

With regard to social policy, issues like abortion, marriage equality and things like that could find themselves back on the table. There are a lot of possibilities as far as impacting lives.

“I guess it’s really going to come down to how the President pushes and how Congress responds,” Walls said.

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