To most observers, one characteristic of Donald Trump seems clear: he is mostly interested in making himself look great. He did not enter politics because of a sudden urge to spend the rest of his active life in public service. Running for president is the culmination of a giant ego trip.
Ok, he came, blasted the opposition, and won. What is next? The ultimate ego trip is to have a lasting legacy and to go down in history as the "greatest president" in U.S. history. How would he define "greatest"? Let's see: "most followers", "most likes", "best approval numbers". This is precisely what puts my mind at ease.
In order to become the president with the best approval ratings ever, he cannot continue as the unfiltered mouthpiece of the far right. He will lead with a constant eye on the polls, and he will not be satisfied with making a near-fascist fringe happy. I think we will see an immediate and total shift to the center.
Trump has already shown in recent months that he does not care about traditional sensitivities of the Republican party - at all. He also does not care about sensitivities of democrats, even though he has sympathized with them in the past. I think this may actually make it possible for him to work across the aisle.
Past presidents had to and Hillary would have had to put their party first and then extend a hand to the other. Given the antagonistic climate, such half-hearted offers can only be met with rejection. Trump, however, is not beholden to any given party, and he ruthlessly furthers his own agenda, which is to gain the largest possible support. Once members from both parties see that Trump is equally ready to push aside concerns from the other party, they may be a lot more willing to compromise. By caring only about himself, this president may thus be able to break the stalemate that has crippled Washington for decades.
Given that he will live by the polls, he is very unlikely to act as bad as he talked before the election. I think his most ardent supporters will be disappointed to find out that he does not really care about abortion, guns, vengeance against Hillary, border walls, or mass deportations. Trump just brutally hit those talking points to get into the White House. Now he will perhaps keep up some of the talk, but he will quietly shift gears to broaden his reach.
Certainly, some of the things he aims to do are not so bad. Renegotiating trade deals? Sure. The German minister of economics is currently doing that with China, trying to open up the Chinese market for Europeans and to control potentially hostile Chinese investments in Europe. Rethinking NATO? Of course. NATO is an anachronism and maintaining expensive bases all over the world does not make any sense. Stopping illegal immigration? No problem. Taxing money that is leaving the country? Yes - this could be the best way to encourage workers to seek legal status, because only this qualifies them for income tax refunds.
Trump may not even be particularly interested in reelection. After all, he is not the youngest, and who would want to hit the campaign trail again in his late seventies? This means he is free to do things that are unpopular with Wall Street, large corporations, insurance companies, the NRA, or other large donors and interest groups.
But is one term sufficient to build a lasting Trump legacy? Maybe not. But let's not forget that he is also a proud father. I bet that he is already thinking beyond being the president with the greatest approval ratings. Forget about the misogynist outbursts. He will mend fences with women and whole-heartedly give them what they are yearning for: a female president. Ivanka.