The Obama administration began amid the Great Recession. Donald Trump will take office in January 2017 and usher in the Great Negation. How long it will last depends on Republicans’ ability to build more than a bare majority in a polarized political environment.

Trump’s rise is a reaction to an administration that governed to the delight of half the country and dismay of the other. Any politician trying to tell you that we’re basically a Democratic or Republican nation simply isn’t telling the truth. University of Michigan physicist Mark Newman created a series of maps that essentially show a nation divided largely along urban and rural lines. The deeply Democratic and highly populated urban centers float in a sea of Republican red.

That doesn’t mean that we average out into some kind of centrist nation. If Americans were basically moderates, our politics wouldn’t look like they do.

While it might be true that a relatively small swath of moderate voters has an outsized impact on national elections, they don’t control the base of the respective parties. When President Obama won election with control of the House and Senate, we saw a winner-take-all approach. I was a Republican staffer in Congress when the Affordable Care Act was enacted; Democrats rammed it through in a pure political power play. Now Republicans have the same capacity. Elections have consequences.

It’s easy to get into hyperbole about the leftist policies of the Obama administration. In truth, Obama’s liberal policymaking was at its high water mark in 2009 and 2010, when Democrats held the trifecta that Republicans will enjoy in January. For the remaining six years of his presidency, Obama was basically relegated to regulatory actions, executive orders and lawsuits. The Trump administration will easily dispense with many of Obama policies that weren’t ensconced in duly enacted law.

The Great Negation will undo Obama’s key achievements favored by the Democratic base. Voters afforded Republicans the political clout to repeal the Affordable Care Act, reverse Dodd-Frank financial reforms and clip the regulatory reach of the Environmental Protection Agency in the next Congress. More importantly, Republicans enjoy at least a two-year window to appoint and confirm federal judges.

As a result, half the country will rejoice as Republicans take a political wrecking ball to Obama’s agenda. The other half will lament the loss of health insurance subsidies, claim environmental calamity and crow about too-big-to-fail cronyism’s return.

But the negation of Obama’s policies may have severe electoral consequences.

Backlash from the first two years of the Obama administration cost Democrats dearly in Washington but also in the states where Republicans victorious in 2010 gleefully drew district lines that all but guaranteed a Republican House of Representatives for the following decade.

It’s a hard task to destroy the other party’s crown jewels from the previous administration and then pivot to policies that build consensus. When Trump picks the Oklahoma attorney general who made a practice of suing the EPA to lead it, he’s not exactly trying to win friends on the political left.

Republicans won’t seem conciliatory either when Democrats filibuster Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. The GOP base doesn’t want a moderate to replace Antonin Scalia. If Democrats drag out the process too long, Trump will pressure Senate Republicans to change their rules and confirm his nominee to the Supreme Court with a simple majority—again not a move that smacks of compromise.

But Trump isn’t interested in being a traditional conservative Republican; he seems to be setting the table to build a populist coalition even as he negates Obama’s agenda.

Trump apparently plans to bank on federal cash as a key political tool. With congressional earmarks gone, Trump’s plan to spend heavily on infrastructure gives him significant capacity to deal out federal spending to bring political players to the table. At $1 trillion, Trump’s stimulus would be larger than President Obama’s and much more focused on actual infrastructure. Whether he’s able to lure enough Democrats and keep Republicans in the fold to pass a major spending bill is anyone’s guess.

Trump also favors protectionist trade and economic policies that read more like a page out of a labor union playbook than any prior Republican ideas. Those may serve as an olive branch to Rust Belt Democrats willing to give Trump some help when free trade conservatives balk at trade tariffs and other market manipulations.

The Great Negation’s arrival is a virtual certainty. Democrats will enjoy it about as much as Republicans appreciated the first two years of Obama’s presidency. Both ends of the political spectrum will have had a taste of what it feels like to be on the political outs. From there we have two paths: One political cycle of negation after another or somehow finding a way to actually work together.

Image by Dmitriy Linchevskiy

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