Two stories keep circling in my head: the first details how the majority of Donald Trump’s voters still support the president overwhelmingly. The second is how the Democrats keep campaigning against Trump and losing.
Most recently, Jon Ossoff ran in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District special election (Tom Price and Newt Gingrich’s old seat). He ran solidly against Trump. Indeed, the media made the contest a referendum on Trumpism. He lost. In fact, the Democrats have waged an unremitting war upon Trumpism and they have lost so badly that many Democratic leaders are turning on each other.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party holds the levers of power at all levels of government. Since 2010, the GOP has steadily amassed political power in both houses of Congress. They’ve also accrued remarkable levels of power in state houses, legislatures, and city halls. In the 2016 election, Republicans not only built upon those successes, they finally won the White House. With that win, the Republicans are—for the first time in decades—poised to implement their counterrevolutionary agenda (reversing the liberal tide initiated with the New Deal and carried to new heights with the ill-conceived Great Society.) Yet, GOP leadership seems incapable of comprehending this fact. Further, the congressional Republicans, despite having a firm grip on power in both chambers, are content to allow the Democrats to continue challenging the Trump White House at every turn.
Trump’s message was simple: make America great again. From that, he built a coalition of conservative voters and former blue-collar Democrats, to overcome the other candidates. More importantly, Trump brought much-needed dynamism to a stagnating party and politics.
Evidently, some Republican leaders are still smarting from the contentious 2016 presidential primaries. That’s understandable. It takes time to come to terms with total humiliation and defeat. All of those candidates, all claiming the mantle of “true conservatism” (whatever that means), were brought to their knees by a political outsider. Trump’s message was simple: make America great again. From that, he built a coalition of conservative voters and former blue-collar Democrats, to overcome the other candidates. More importantly, Trump brought much-needed dynamism to a stagnating party and politics.
Trump blended together populism and conservatism in a way not seen since Reagan. To the populists, he promised that he would not go after their entitlements (into which most have paid their entire working lives), that he would create policies to get the economy moving again, and that he would be far more judicious as commander-in-chief when it came to sending their children into combat. And, if they were sent into combat, not only would our young fighting men and women be given everything they needed to win, but they’d also get top-notch care as veterans. To the conservatives, he promised their usual combination of tax cuts, strong national defense, and a return to traditional social values (for example, during the campaign Trump went after Planned Parenthood especially hard—and he continues to do so even now).
Populism was the battering ram to get Rightists into power everywhere. The Democrats have not been this weak since the 1920s. For the first time in my lifetime, the Left is on the defensive. Not only are they losing elections up and down the line, they are also losing popular opinion. Oh, sure, they can still claim that they won the “popular vote” but that vote, apparently, is not well galvanized—and it certainly has no following outside of the hallowed coastal cities of America.
Despite this, the Republicans in Congress struggle even to deliver one of their oldest promises: repealing Obamacare. They might say “legislating is hard,” but that’s like Tom Brady going out and complaining, “the NFL is tough.” No kidding. Republicans made promises; they’d better keep them. They won; they’d better act like winners. Yet the sad fact is, many congressional Republicans are merely creatures of the Establishment—no matter how many claim to be the true inheritors of Reagan’s conservatism. News flash: Reagan wasn’t a technocrat! You all are!
Certain conservatives love to preen about their inviolable “principles”; they lament the absence of adults among the American voters—they continue complaining about not having a party based on principles any longer—yet when given the chance to enact most (if not all) of their agenda, they refuse. Why? Because Trump is just such a coarse guy! What’s the point of having principles in politics if you are unwilling to actually act on those principles? The fact that you dislike a colleague is hardly an excuse for not doing that which the voters elected you to do: govern. Trump has reached his hand out to the Congressional Republicans. He has offered conservative policy solutions to some of our most vexing problems today so many of the establishment Republicans will not even listen. It’s their way or the highway. Funny, I don’t seem to remember the Democrats in Congress suffering through any similar division.
Remember, even after Trump won the primary, the congressional Republicans lined up to castigate him. Several Republican and conservative leaders—elected officials and “public intellectuals” alike—signed petitions declaring their vote for Hillary Clinton. Many of these same people are now inexplicably in positions of influence, both in Congress and even within the White House.
Is it any wonder the Make America Again agenda is foundering?
Yet Trump continues to win elections, even when he is the most hated man alive—even when he’s not even on the ballots! No matter what, the Republican Party will be tied to the Trump brand from here on out. Republican leaders who are unable fully to embrace this fact are useless. Every second that is wasted responding to baseless Democratic accusations and character attacks, rather than advancing a Greatness Agenda, is a second that the entrenched elite have to fortify themselves within the elephantine bureaucracy.
There are a retinue of Republicans up for reelection in 2018 who’ve grown entirely too comfortable in their positions of power. If we cannot even get a basic tax reform package passed, or if the healthcare legislation does not repeal Obamacare and return power back to the states, then most of these Republicans should be voted out of office. The time for negotiating and kicking the can down the road in the name of getting good press (which never happens) is over.
We must fight. We must use our strengths—Donald Trump and populism rightly understood—to save our ailing republic from the abyss. Vote against the incumbents and elect those who will enact the Trump agenda. I’m tired of watching the other guys’ party always fighting for what they believe, while our guys can’t seem to get their act together. What’s the point in holding power if you’re not going to fight for your beloved principles? I’ll take a fighter any day over 10 technocrats!
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