Like him or not, most Americans agree: President Donald Trump is a showman. He grabs our attention and keeps us tuned in to see what happens next.
His first year in office is coming to an end. Another way of looking at it is we've just witnessed President Trump's Season One finale. Fresh off his biggest legislative victory, he's got us hooked and eager to see what Season Two will bring. So, now is a good time for a season recap.
When you go beyond all the theatrics breathlessly reported by Washington critics, you see a remarkable year of accomplishments. A quick sampling includes Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court appointment; cutting an amazing 16 regulations for every new one; and, in his most far-reaching achievement, enacting the biggest tax reform in 31 years, providing billions of dollars in job-creating tax cuts and finally repealing Obamacare's hated health insurance mandate.
These and other milestones are worthy of their editorials, but I bring your attention to something far more telling, yet rarely discussed.
People are saying, "Merry Christmas" again.
My work requires me to spend much time traveling across the country. I was struck this year by how many people are saying "Merry Christmas" rather than the generic "Happy Holidays."
Why does this matter, you ask?
As Trump said in October and repeats frequently, "(People) don't use the word Christmas because it's not politically correct . Well, guess what? We're saying 'Merry Christmas' again."
And sure enough, there was a noticeable increase in people saying, "Merry Christmas" this year.
This illustrates a larger point I made during the 2016 presidential contest and in my "Trump at 100 Days" column. The past isn't prologue for Donald Trump. He has the ability to create the world he wants. He creates the context. Consider the 2016 campaign: most experts said Trump wouldn't win. Yet he created a context where he was victorious.
That is precisely President Trump's most remarkable skill.
Our country's direction is affected by those at the top. The context, the filter through which we view the world is influenced by the president. It's bigger than the "bully pulpit."
Trump is succeeding by communicating directly with the American people to focus our attention on specific topics. Some people don't like his Tweets or comments, but he uses them to frame an issue or situation. He channels the energy of the conversation toward the things he wants discussed.
Look back at where things were 18 months ago.
We were told the "slow growth" of the Obama years was the "new normal." Then, candidate Trump proposed an economic plan with 4 percent GDP growth. Most "experts" scoffed and said it was impossible. Now, the economy is soaring and instead, we're debating how much it will grow. Today, 4 percent GDP growth is possible. When President Trump speaks, he speaks like it is already happening. He is creating a context for American abundance, prosperity, and optimism, and his actions match that context.
Not long ago, few public officials could be taken seriously on border security. Today, securing our borders is a given. We are simply debating how.
Then there's ISIS. A year ago, the Washington context was that we were in a generational conflict with no resolution in sight; the best we could hope for was managing it. Then, President Trump arrived. As he said in his Feb. 28 address to Congress, we would "demolish and destroy ISIS." And today ISIS has lost most of its territory.
I could go on, but it all boils down to this: Donald Trump is a showman with a long view of how to redefine a situation to determine how the story ultimately turns out. He has demonstrated that over and over.
The mark of a good president is the ability to learn and grow in the job. Trump has shown he adapts and gets others to adapt along with him.
Despite the twists and turns of Season One, he heads into Season Two with a roaring economy and the self-confidence that comes from knowing how to make his vision come true.
And don't worry, there are a couple of cliffhangers, too, so stay tuned.
Dustin Olson is founder of the political consulting firm Olson Strategies & Advertising and co-founder of The Signature Gathering Company. Olson helped create the program and production for Donald Trump's National Convention and the 58th presidential Inauguration.