How America went from Barack Obama to Donald Trump in one head-spinning political decadeRoundup
tags: political history, Obama, presidential history, Trump
Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer are historians at Princeton University. Their book, "Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974," comes out in paperback in January. Zelizer’s "Burning Down the House" will be published in April. Follow them on Twitter: @KevinMKruse and @JulianZelizer
How did we get from Barack Obama to Donald Trump? The two presidents seem so dissimilar that it’s tempting to conclude they come from separate worlds. But in important ways, Obama set the stage for Trump.
To say the two men brought incredibly different approaches to the presidency is a dramatic understatement. Throughout his two terms, Obama governed with a deep respect for government institutions and overall stability. Although he came into office with a strong mandate from the 2008 election, his political temperament led him to seek out compromise positions with Republicans from the outset. As president-elect, he placed two Republicans in his Cabinet and nearly secured a third, which would have been an unprecedented level of bipartisanship.
Obama’s legislative agenda was likewise crafted with an eye to bipartisanship. A third of his economic stimulus package was dedicated totax cut proposals, many of them previously advanced by Republicans, while his plan for health care reform drew in equal parts from Mitt Romney’s program when he was governor in Massachusetts and the Republican alternative to President Bill Clinton’s health care initiative in 1993.
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