After his spat with Mexico, after the travel ban, this week President Trump did something that surprised me. He put in place a policy with which I agreed. He placed a smart check on ever-proliferating federal regulations. His executive action requires any department that wants to add a regulation to get rid of two existing ones. It might seem gimmicky, but the British government instituted just this “one-in, two-out” rule in 2013 and it has worked well. In fact, while I find much of Trump’s worldview alarming, I generally agree with some important parts of his program — tax reform, infrastructure investment, deregulation, civil service reform. But the larger question I keep asking myself is: Does Trump want someone like me to agree with him?
The Trump White House has decided that the best way to deal with any institution or group that might stand in its way is to relentlessly try to delegitimize it. This has led to a ferocious strategy of attack on the media, which the president now says is “the opposition party.” His chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, urges the media to “keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.”