By Randy Evans –
Every presidential election means change. The only question is the magnitude of change. So, when President George H. W. Bush succeeded President Ronald Reagan, it was more of a course modification than a change in direction. When President Barack Obama succeeded President George W. Bush, it was a sea change.
But nothing compares to the change produced when the winner is not only from the opposing political party, but is a true outsider intent on banishing insider influence and taking on the establishment from both political parties. Well, that is exactly what will happen when President-elect Donald J. Trump takes the oath of office at noon on Jan. 20, 2017. No one alive today has seen this level of transformation as a result of a single election.
Change of this magnitude represents a multitude of things. Most of the focus now is on the transition team and who gets what job. That is but one part of what we can expect when President-elect Trump takes office. After all, change in the White House extends well beyond the names and faces in the Cabinet and various government agencies.
From his first day in office, the new president has the enormous power of the pen. This is especially true when the previous president largely governed by executive order. Unlike legislation, which can only be repealed by new legislation requiring the cooperation of the legislative branch, executive orders can be rescinded with the simple stroke of a pen by a new president.
President Obama proudly proclaimed his preferred method of governance through the use of the phone and the pen. Unfortunately for his legacy, President-elect Trump can undo as much of that legacy as he likes with exactly the same approach.
Aside from changes in personnel and White House policy, the new president can alter the direction of foreign policy with the issue of a single statement or a reach out with a single phone call. No better example exists than the contrast between President-elect Trump’s statement on the passing of Fidel Castro and that of President Obama. One statement reflects the future of relations with Cuba, while the other signifies the past.
For Georgia, this kind of change will have several advantages: the empowerment of lots of key Georgians, less litigation with the federal government over mandates, leveraging Georgia as the No. 1 state for doing business, and the backing of the president in an all-important midterm election. It will be a political and economic earthquake.
From Senator Richard Russell to Senator Sam Nunn to Speaker Newt Gingrich, Georgia has been home to some powerful national political figures. In recent years, some of that luster had worn off with the retirement of Senator Saxby Chambliss and a new generation of congressmen lacking sufficient seniority to wield real power and position in the Congress. All of that changed with this election.
Senator David Perdue, an unwavering supporter of President-elect Trump from the beginning, has moved from a freshman outsider senator to a powerful force in the U.S. Senate. When a senator has the ear of the president, he is an average senator no more. Indeed, Senator Perdue could probably have a place in the administration if he was so inclined. But, at a minimum, he is now a national political figure with real power in Washington, D.C.
Congressman Tom Price has also seen his world change. With a president determined to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, few members of Congress have had more say about health care in America than Congressman Price. So, President-elect Trump has tapped him for a position in his Cabinet — Secretary of Health and Human Services. Now, he will be truly at the center of reforming health care in America.
Georgia probably dodged a bullet with Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions’ selection as the next attorney general. There was real reason to worry had he ended up in one of the other Cabinet positions where he could have tilted the scales in the water wars. Instead, at Justice, it is unlikely that he will continue the Obama Administration’s systematic attack on states like Georgia regarding everything from health care to immigration to transgender bathrooms.
For those who think that Gov. Nathan Deal has already had more than his fair share of judicial picks, they have not seen anything yet. Watch as a President Trump relies heavily on Georgia’s appellate courts for his appointments to the federal bench.
But it does not stop there. The new president also will appoint new U.S. attorneys in the northern, middle and southern districts of Georgia along with a host of state and regional administrators.
On trade, Georgia is the best positioned to take advantage of a trade policy focused on keeping businesses in the United States and bringing former U.S. businesses back. As the No. 1 place to do business in America, there is no better president to have than one focused on keeping business here where Georgia has a documented competitive advantage.
Finally, and equally significantly, having a Republican president during the 2018 election will be huge. The resources alone from an incumbent president are significant. But the capacity to lift state candidates, especially the Georgia GOP gubernatorial nominee, will be big.
Remember, the next Georgia governor will be in office during reapportionment in 2020 when the various Congressional and state legislative district lines get drawn. Those are changes that can determine a state’s tilt for a decade.