Congress Needs Trump More than Trump Needs Congress

With President Trump’s first 100 days officially over, and Congress on the verge of passing a “deal” to keep the government open that looks like it was negotiated between Chuck Schumer’s left hand and his right hand, it’s about time to recognize something: Congress needs this president far more than he needs them because Congress, not the White House, has been the monkey wrench in the gears of successful Republican governance.

On every level the evidence is damning. On policy, this Congress is flatly incapable of passing genuinely Trumpian items like funding for the Wall, and only just managed to drag an Obamacare repeal bill over the finish line in one chamber, despite promising such a bill for the past 6 years. And while that is slight cause for celebration, there is also plenty of reason to assume that Congress’ incapacity for action will simply make the bill die in committee when it reaches the Senate.

align=”left” While conventional wisdom now views Trump as the problem in Washington for his party, the opposite is true. It is not the supposedly “fringe” and “unserious” President who will drag down the GOP next year: it is the do-nothing “mainstream” Congress.

Indeed, so dysfunctional is this Republican majority that analysts are openly doubting whether a Republican-controlled House and Senate can pass tax cuts. That sort of question over a Republican priority with a decades-long vintage should be humiliating to even the most milquetoast Republican.

Small wonder, then, that Congress’ approval ratings make President Trump’s look Rooseveltian by comparison. 20 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, according to a recent poll, and only 31 percent of Republicans agree. In other words, nearly 70 percent of people with the same party affiliation as Congress actually disapprove of what that Congress is doing. This, in comparison with 85 percent of Republicans who approve of President Trump’s handing of his job.

While conventional wisdom now views Trump as the problem in Washington for his party, the opposite is true. It is not the supposedly “fringe” and “unserious” President who will drag down the GOP next year: it is the do-nothing “mainstream” Congress.

To anyone paying the least bit of attention, it should be obvious why this is the case: namely, that unlike Congress, Trump actually has an agenda. He wants to build a wall on the southern border and enforce immigration law to the letter; make the American healthcare system cover more people at lower cost; cut taxes and simplify the tax code; invest heavily in infrastructure; and slash regulations on business. Since Trump mostly doesn’t require Congressional approval to enforce immigration law and slash regulations, it’s no surprise that these are the agenda items on which he has performed most strongly, and which are likely responsible for his high approval ratings within his own party.

On the other hand, what does Congress stand for? No, that’s not a rhetorical question. This Congress seems to be too busy fighting itself to decide on any common goals: too content to stay mired in internecine wars between “moderate” Republicans who often seem to live to undermine the party, and the “principled” House Freedom Caucus, which often mistakes the voice of Conservatism, Inc. for the voices of their own constituency. In other words, this is a Congress desperately in need of a strong Speaker to crack the whip and marshal his troops for the President. Instead, we have a reluctant paper tiger in the form of Paul Ryan, who, to be fair, didn’t actually want the job because it requires such a purely transactional mindset, which makes it a poor fit for a policy wonk more concerned with intellectual principles than points on the board. And how bad of a fit was it, exactly? Well, such a bad fit that only 22 percent of Americans and 23 percent of Republicans (!) approve of the job Ryan is doing.

align=”right” Unless they begin to work with the President who handed them the ability to enact their agenda by sheer gumption, this entire Congress may soon face the same fate as erstwhile Rep. Stupak and find their chance at power completely aborted.

Republicans―including Ryan―should know the danger of being a Congressman isolated from his President. Those who remember the passage of Obamacare can remember the tragic tale of former Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), a man whose pro-life convictions made him an obstacle to Obamacare and thus, a disfavored son within his own party, even as his eventual vote for passage made him unpopular with his broadly socially conservative district. When the 2010 election rolled around, Stupak had a Democratic base ready to primary him, and a Republican base hungry for his scalp by default. Unless they begin to work with the President who handed them the ability to enact their agenda by sheer gumption, this entire Congress may soon face the same fate as erstwhile Rep. Stupak and find their chance at power completely aborted.

The Democrats are desperately energized to spring into action in 2018, not because of any affection for their leaders, but purely because they see those leaders as vehicles with which to impeach and imprison President Trump for imaginary offenses. Trump’s base, on the other hand, has precious little reason to turn out for a Congress that is not even an effective weapon on behalf of their President, who is the most popular and galvanizing figure for Republicans presently on the scene.


About Mytheos Holt

Mytheos Holt is a senior contributor to American Greatness and a senior fellow at the Institute for Liberty. He has held positions at the R Street Institute, Mair Strategies, The Blaze, and National Review. He also worked as a speechwriter for U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, and reviews video games at Gamesided. He hails originally from Big Sur, California, but currently resides in New York City. Yes, Mytheos is his real name.

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7 responses to “Congress Needs Trump More than Trump Needs Congress”

  1. This is a wonderful article. I so hope some Republican in Congress has seen it and maybe, just maybe, there will be a new Speaker. It isn’t fair to all the Republican voters that we lose the House in 2018, but the only hope of retaining it is to get a new Speaker and convince voters that some things that aren’t part of Obama’s agenda might get passed. Of course, if Ryan so turns off voters that the Senate falls in 2018, that’s the end of nominating Constitutionists to the Supreme Court. So much rides on Ryan, on getting rid of Ryan!

  2. We’ve got it figured out. The establishment could not bear to internalize the lesson of Eric Cantor. We are content to primary each and every one of them. The democrats are dreaming if they think they can capitalize on this. They are finished. As for the recalcitrant Republicans, we will primary them out of office and replace them with Americans.The movement is unstoppable.

    The notion that there will be a hunger to return to speakership of Nancy Pelosi is silly.

  3. @Mytheos: Don’t forget, we tried to “primary” Paul Ryan with Paul Nehlen, and John McCain with Kelli Ward. Both of these candidates vigorously embraced candidate Trump… But it was not reciprocated.

  4. What is the Worst Thing that can happen to Trump? If he is turned out of office will he be sent to St. Helena a la Napoleon? No, Amigos, he returns to the Twin Sybaritic Pleasure Palaces of Trump Tower and Mar-A-Lago. In desperation, I thought Trump was our Last Chance when I voted for him. I still think that. Trump does not need Congress. He does not need us. We need him and if he departs the scene I would like to know just who will replace him? Oh yes, Pence will step up but ask yourself, does your blood race at the thought of President Pence? I mean he is a nice guy but are you prepared to follow him up the hill? Do not ask for Whom the Bell Tolls. It Tolls for thee and me…. A final thought: If not now, when? If not Trump, who?

  5. Yes, but while 70% may dislike them, there are still the 30 that do. And, more importantly, usually the dislike by people is for the congress critters in other districts, not for their own representative/senator. So, the majority of people across the US may not like someone like Ryan, the majority in his district do. The most glaring example is Pelosi who keeps getting elected with margins approaching Putin’s. The result is that they know they have the votes to win re-election and so why would they take upset the apple cart and risk that? Not for nothing, many of these people were the loudest criers of “principles” and virtue throughout the campaign. They are just hypocrites with a yellow stripe wider than their spine.

  6. I agree with you that Congress is, has been, and always will be the problem, until we decide we want the government our Founders gave us and fire all of the professional politicians. We did that with this President, maybe we will be smart enough to do that with Congress in the next election. I can only hope. Now to set the record straight….. Constitutionally, the President is elected by the States (not the people), and is an employee of Congress. Yeah, for real. Read the Constitution. The President has only as much authority as Congress gives him. Barack Obama was NOT the “Great and Powerful Wizard” everyone painted him to be; it was those little men behind the curtain pulling the strings all along. Republicans had a majority in Congress. The only way Obama got away with all of his egregious crap was, Republicans LET him. THEY were willing participants. Wake up people! Trump is NOT “Great and Powerful” either, and we re-elected the SAME PEOPLE who colluded with Obama. Do you REALLY expect change?

  7. Could the following quote from Nietzsche (Human, all Too Human) define the successful conservative formed by actual conservatism?

    A man far oftener appears to have a decided character from persistently following his temperament than from persistently following his principles.

    If so, Trump is in and most current GOPers are out.