Donald Trump’s deal with Carrier to keep jobs in Indiana, instead of moving them to Mexico, highlights the president-elect’s strong suit in a week filled with talk of recounts and cabinet post turmoil. Carrier, an air conditioning company, announced the deal on Twitter, and have it displayed on the news page of the company website. The terms of the deal, which have not yet been announced, have been reported to be based in part on incentives from the state of Indiana. The deal was reportedly negotiated by Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate and governor of Indiana.
In all, approximately 1,000 jobs will stay in the U.S. if the deal terms are true to early reports. While that is a relatively insignificant number in the scheme of the larger economy, the gesture is certain to gain traction with Trump supporters, and with working people who are facing uncertain futures in a global economy. It’s worth noting that the deal was struck with Trump’s running mate in the state where he governed, so it isn’t certain how long this has been in negotiations.
The truth is that the deal, while newsworthy in its own right, underlines many of the strengths that Trump will bring to his new job. Those strengths stand outside of anything Americans have come to expect in a president, and will challenge those who cover the presidency to adapt to new ways of communicating with leadership in the White House. They may also alter the way that Americans perceive presidents moving forward.
Among the strengths that President-elect Trump brings to the job, two stand out above all others in this story. The first is his ability to drive the national conversation. In spite of all of the discussions about his mercurial personality, his seeming recklessness in his approach to social media, and his inability to transcend the gutter from time to time in publicly bickering with journalists and detractors, if anyone is talking with, about, or to Donald Trump, it will be about the subjects he chooses.
In the past week, he’s made accusations of voter fraud, and challenged journalists on social media who dispute his claims. He’s had a third-party file for a recount, and engaged on that front as well. Donald Trump has also been at the center of a circular Republican Party firing squad over his cabinet. At no point was he rattled. Why is that?
We’re covering all of them because Donald Trump wanted to talk about those things. His talk about voter fraud and rigged elections during the campaign had been a sore spot for many, but instead of backing off, the president-elect redoubled his efforts. He even used what could have been a negative situation with a recount as a sounding board for those claims. His cabinet picks seem to set off new controversies daily, with the press speculating on how that affects his base. Now the headlines are about the Trump deal to keep jobs in the U. S. and the happy workers.
For anyone seeking a news flash, Donald Trump’s base is not reading the traditional news outlets. It doesn’t work that way for the people who support him. And while that base may not be a majority, it is most definitely large and loud enough to keep his attention. That base brings us to a second strength.
For a variety of reasons, Donald Trump can connect with voters directly in a way no other president has since Bill Clinton. Following President Obama’s Twitter account is interesting. Following President-elect Trump’s Twitter account is like flying through a hurricane. It’s noisy, frequently bumpy, and never dull.
He seems to enjoy a good dust-up online more than the average internet troll, and in some ways he can be tougher and meaner than the guy on a message board saying things that appall many readers. And he uses the social media outlet as an end run around the press. Trump doesn’t need the press, he tolerates them.
Trump supporters view him not so much as a president, but as a last bastion of American exceptionalism. They connect with him, because of his behavior, not in spite of it. His faults, his successes, and everything else are on public display at all times. It is that openness and transparency that helped him win the election and if he is to ultimately do well, the people who support him will remain.
Everyone’s now talking about jobs not going to Mexico with a deal to keep them in Indiana. Maybe that deal was happening anyway before the election. Maybe it wasn’t. The point is that we’re talking about it because it’s what’s on Donald Trump’s mind. Get used to that.
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]