A lot has changed in the United States political landscape. The composition of Congress is no longer the same, we now have American presidents with distinct backgrounds. Then, there are concepts that did not exist before but are now being talked about.

The changes, whether good or bad, were primarily brought about by the changes in times, which have brought about changes in views and in people.

Here are some ways U.S politics has changed over the years:

 1.      Congress Is More Diverse Than Ever

The 116th Congress is the most diverse in U.S history, with more than one in five voting members a part of racial or ethnic minorities. Based on the Pew Research Center, 116 lawmakers are non-white. They include:

  • Blacks
  • Hispanics
  • Asians and Pacific Islanders
  • Native Americans

This is an 84 percent increase from the 63 minority members in the 107th Congress in 2001 and 2003. Since the 106th Congress, the trend every succeeding year has been to include more minorities, except in 2009, when the 72 legislators from the minority who reported on the first session day was less than the 75  the previous year.

This is good news, considering that white men dominated the first Congress.

2. A Person with No Political or Military Background Can Now Be President

Until U.S President Donald Trump, U.S Presidents had some form of political or military background. George Washington was the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War before he went on to serve as the U.S’ first president. John Adams was Washington’s vice president when he became President in 1797.  Before he became President in 1845, James Knox Polk was  House Speaker and Tennessee governor.

It was Trump, a television personality and businessman, who changed all that when he became the 45th President in 2016.

3. No More Physical Wars, Only Trade Wars

President Trump has since pushed for the “talk but avoid brandishing your stick strategy.” Last year, he called North Korea’s Kim Jong Un a “madman” after the country tested a ballistic missile, and denounced North Korea’s “reckless and brutal regime.”

There was the talk of a crisis on the Korean Peninsula and the possibility of the US inching towards war. But for all his rhetoric, Trump never actually pushes through with it and sends American soldiers to war. In fact, he has been very emphatic about withdrawing American troops from Syria, troops sent by his predecessor to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Al-Nusra front in 2014. He has also said troops from Iraq would come home, troops George W. Bush, a Republican like him, sent to arrest Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.

For Trump, it appears U.S involvement in wars abroad is not necessary, a turnaround from his predecessors’ strategy.

What Trump appears to be more concerned about is waging trade wars. While he downplays the need for troops in wars abroad, he insists on imposing high tariffs on China to force the Asian country to stop what he said were its “unfair trade practices.”

According to Trump, these include the theft of American intellectual property through espionage, and the forced transfer of American technology through “mandatory” joint venture. This is despite opposition from those reeling from the effects of the tariffs on the world’s largest Asian economy. China has denied the allegations.

Sure, there were trade wars before, like the 1960s Chicken Tariff War, which saw France and West Germany imposing high tariffs on cheaper chickens from America to protect their own. Then-U.S President Lyndon Johnson responded with a 25 percent tax on  European products. Then, there are the more recent 1993 banana wars, when the U.S imposed high tariffs on Europe because of the continent’s high tariffs on fruit from American companies in Latin America.

But, these trade wars did not reach unprecedented heights that involved almost all players in the international community.

4. Politicians Now Make Announcements on Social Media

This is one of the most obvious changes in American politics, and politics in general. When Nixon decided he was resigning because of the Watergate scandal, his staff had to ask networks to cover his announcement on Aug. 8, 1974 from the Oval Office. When Ronald Reagan announced he was running for president, he did this the year before the 1980 elections, also through television. But nowadays, politicians can make announcements with a click of the mouse.

Trump himself is very active on Twitter. When he called Kim a “madman" and announced he was replacing his Secretary of State Mike Tillerson with Mike Pompeo, he did so over his account. Gone are the days when it took days of preparation before major announcements by politicians were made, thanks to social media.

But even the nature of the announcements has changed. When Nixon announced he was resigning, he took up much of the airtime with the chunky paragraphs that comprised his speech. It took Reagan a good 24 minutes to announce he was running for President, too. Long political announcements are no longer the norm; the less you say, the better.

Consider Trump’s Tweets for example. Twenty-four words were all he needed to type to send the media, who thought the U.S was going to war, into a frenzy. When he announced Tillerson was being replaced, he did so in only 46 words.

The audience of politicians is changing (they have a shorter attention span and many are active on social media), which means politicians also need to change the way they disseminate their messages.

Conclusion

These changes in U.S politics are inevitable. But, it’s not only because those holding political posts change as elections come. It’s also because the times are changing, and so are members of the American public.

Even the U.S politics of now can’t stay the same. Nowhere is the saying the only thing constant in this world is change truer than in politics, U.S politics at that.

Published by James Howart