How President Trump Changed Your Imagination

Do you remember when candidate Trump told us (in effect) that he would be the first non-politician to win the presidency? It seemed impossible to even imagine such a thing. Then he did the impossible.

Do you remember when it was common wisdom that if the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel it would be a huge problem? President Trump did it anyway. So far, it looks like a minor problem at most.

Do you remember when experts said President Trump shouldn’t mess with the Iran nuclear deal because it could cause a huge problem for the United States and its allies? He did it anyway, and it is likely a supporting variable for the Iranian protestors who don’t like how their government is creating problems that don’t need to be problems.

Do you remember when experts said China will never help squeeze the economy of North Korea because China fears a refugee crisis? President Trump encouraged China to squeeze anyway. Then he helpfully provided satellite photos of tankers cheating on the high seas. After South Korea grabbed and held a second cheating tanker, the economics of smuggling oil have turned negative, or will soon. And North Korea is sounding — at least to my ears — more flexible than ever.

That branch is stronger than you imagined.

Do you remember when it was common wisdom that we couldn’t put enough pressure on Pakistan to make them stop harboring terrorists because Pakistan is also an ally in many ways? President Trump just cut off their funding and put them on notice.

Do you remember when experts said withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord would be a catastrophe? President Trump did it anyway because he didn’t like the deal. I’ve seen no indication that exiting the deal made the climate worse. Here I’m only talking about the quality of the Accord and what little impact it would have had in the best case scenario.

The big wildcard in our many “impossibles” has to do with the tax bill and the deficit. Experts say it is impossible to get enough growth from the tax bill to pay for the deficit. But the experts are blind to the persuasion of it all. If President Trump persuades the economy higher, let’s say to 5-6% GDP, there’s a good chance he will accomplish the impossible once again and pay for those tax cuts. The tax cuts alone won’t get us to that GDP, but as part of a larger package of persuasion-by-optimism, it is strong sauce.

The meta-impact of President Trump routinely doing the “impossible” is that it changes how all of us view our world. If Trump can keep doing the impossible, time and time again, why can’t we?

Sometimes things are literally impossible. But much of the time we are only limited by our imaginations. Many of us simply couldn’t imagine that a number of the things President Trump has done would work out well. These were not simple surprises; these were failures of our imagination.

In 2015 I told you that candidate Trump would change far more than politics. I said he would change how we understand reality itself. And one of those biggest changes is in the scope of our imaginations. One year ago it was hard for me to imagine Saudi Arabia taking a sudden turn toward modernization. One year ago it was hard for me to imagine an uprising in Iran that could reshape its destiny. I assume it was hard for the Iranian public to imagine it as well. But they sure are imagining it now.

President Trump isn’t the only variable in the world. But he does create a pattern in our minds of making the impossible seem achievable. Don’t underestimate the impact that pattern has on the imaginations of everyone watching.

And don’t be surprised if 2018 is the year when people all over the world shed their mental prisons and take on the “impossibles” in ways we have never seen. Thanks to President Trump, people everywhere are beginning to recognize the difference between real impossibilities and simple failures of imagination.

Welcome to The Golden Age. It starts now.


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