Challenges facing Trump

Monash University Research Fellow Dr Matthew Laing, currently in the United States, has summarised his views on the challenges facing new President Donald Trump's leadership over the next six months.

“Trump has a strong but narrow window to win the public's trust - he's the most unpopular president to take office - so he needs to pull off something impressive in six to nine months during his honeymoon otherwise the knives will come out. Democrats will be emboldened again and Republicans will not stay long defending a president with a less than 45 per cent approval," Dr Laing said.

Moreover, the Russia connection, ethical conflicts with his businesses and losing the popular vote are a lot of red flags for a president, he said.

"I think this will be striking for the public over time, given that Obama's term was relatively free of personal scandals, and his detractors will have a lot of ammunition when the time comes."

Dr Laing said health care was Obama's Waterloo and in 2009/10, and despite huge majorities, the Democrats lost most of their political capital and public affection in two years on that one issue.

"Trump and the Republicans are in danger of making the same mistake and getting stuck in an inescapable quagmire, but this time with images of people in iron lungs on the television talking about their healthcare coverage getting revoked," he said.

Dr Laing said Trump's 'team of rivals' cabinet is an example of why the logic of business doesn't always translate well to politics.

"There have been leaks almost daily from the transition as various appointees jostle for influence over the new government, and there's already infighting on the national security team and the foreign policy team. That kind of environment may breed competitive excellence in a corporate setting, but it augurs poorly for a presidential administration when the media, public and Congress will be training their eyes on every move Trump's team makes.”

Dr Matthew Laing is Research Fellow in the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts