Perhaps we are alone but to us, the presidency of Barack Obama seems iconoclastic, a paradigm shift imposed by the digital revolution. In short, his predecessors more or less disappeared into the White House, reappearing as needed for specific events. But President Obama instead, continued his election campaign into a tool for governance, holding the public eye -and dominating the public dialog- throughout his term, even often enough, with no more than a game of golf. It is not so far as we see, a George Washington or Thomas Jefferson or even a George W. Bush style of presidenting.
Now, Donald Trump is expanding the Obama model with his “Thank You” reprise of his campaign while hobnobbing with foreign leaders by phone and enjoying a near monopoly on the public space, at least the political portion of it. He gives an appearance of doing more governing as President Elect than does President Obama finishing his term as a president. And in an office where the “Mandate of Heaven” is signal, appearance is much.
Adding to this the President-Elect’s rather bombastic style leads us to wonder how long and how far this now irreversible trend can go without removing the fading Constitutional limits of presidential powers and providing free rein for demagogues. Social media, the internet and the advent of digital communication generally serve to multiply the power of communicative politicians but seem to do little to augment the U.S. Constititution. Let us hope that it can hold up under the strain….