Make Trump Trump—Refocus On National Question!
Donald Trump is nearing 100 days in office and with few exceptions, the results have not been as we hoped. The once-triumphant unified Republican government may not make it past the midterm elections.
The warning signs are obvious.
- In a heavily GOP district in deep red Kansas, Republican Ron Estates barely survived a strong challenge from Democrat James Thompson on Tuesday, despite direct intervention from President Trump [Republican Ron Estes prevails in tough Kansas congressional race, by Bryan Lowry, The Kansas City Star, April 11, 2017].
- Another special election in a normally Republican district in Georgia is ominously close, with voting less than a week away [What the Kansas special election means for Georgia’s vote, by Greg Bluestein, Atlanta Journal Constitution, April 12, 2017].
- Republican Congressmen openly declare they don’t think they can work together to accomplish anything on health care and tax reform and denounce each other to a gleeful press [GOP infighting imperils agenda, by Scott Wong, The Hill, April 12, 2017].
The White House also can’t unite around a clear message. President Trump won’t specifically say he has confidence in Steve Bannon, and the talking heads can barely contain their joy [Trump says ‘I like Steve’ Bannon: won’t definitively say he has confidence, by Miranda Green, CNN, April 12, 2017]. When it comes to Syria, there’s no clear message, as “Nikki” Haley is declaring the United States is going to pursue regime change while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seems to be downplaying expectations [The Trump administration seems to have no coherent understanding of its Syria policy, by Zeeshan Aleem, Vox, April 9, 2017].
And hapless Press Secretary Sean Spicer somehow managed to get himself accused of Holocaust denial when he claimed not even Hitler had used chemical weapons (unlike, supposedly, Bashar al-Assad). The MSM hysteria is absurd of course, and Spicer is obviously right Hitler never used battlefield chemical weapons, but President Trump isn’t going to get anywhere with a Press Secretary who keeps falling into traps no one has actually set for him.
One bright spot in this chaos: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who gave a fiery speech at the border on Monday, bluntly telling illegals the “Trump Era” had begun and they should not even bother trying to enter the country. Illegal immigration has plummeted. And there are some signs that Trump’s rhetoric alone has.
Yet ultimately, President Trump isn’t getting his agenda through. Indeed, it’s hard to say at this point what his agenda even is. He is governing like President George W. Bush, albeit with more attention to border security.
And a lot of this isn’t his fault, but the fault of the Republicans in Congress. Paul Ryan obviously never wanted or expected President Trump to win and has shown no interest in moving forward on Trump’s core issues of immigration, nationalist trade policies and infrastructure. Instead, Trump has allowed himself to be dragooned into supporting the Paul Ryan agenda the president’s voters’ thought they had rejected during the primaries.
T.A. Frank at Vanity Fair argued last month Trump is going along with this because he ultimately is reliant on the Republican Congress in order to deliver on his promises on immigration.
Only Republicans, reluctant as many of them may be, can help Trump get his wall or enact policy revisions such as increasing the ratio of skilled to unskilled immigrants. Democrats will be of no help on these fronts, because the party has been moving so fast away from all enforcement. (Chuck Schumer now promises “tooth and nail” opposition to any funding of the same fence he voted for in 2006.) Republicans are Trump’s only hope on this, and he can’t afford to alienate them by cutting deals with Democrats on things like trade protections or expensive infrastructure bills, at least not now. Those will have to wait. Trump and the G.O.P. have to stay friends. So: Ryancare.
[The Dirty Secret Behind The Trumpcare Imbroglio, March 23, 2017. Links in original.]
Frank’s analysis still holds, especially as Republicans may take up health care again once they return from recess as well as moving on tax reform. Needless to say, goofing off with health care and tax reform (not to mention interventions for “Human Rights” overseas) is hardly what Trump supporters thought they were voting for.
What’s more, Ryan’s agenda shows a real lack of original thinking, with the Speaker pushing policies that are not just regressive but deeply unpopular. It wasn’t Ryan’s “Better Way,” after all, that flipped the Rust Belt.
The grim reality: Donald Trump will be an inconsequential one-term president if he tries to govern as a conventional Republican.
Three factors are working against him.
- His campaign aroused such furious media opposition that he’s being held to an impossible standard.
- Changing demographics mean Republicans have a much lower margin for error when it comes to elections, as non-white areas of the country are practically off limits to Republicans.
- Many of Trump’s new “allies” in the “Conservative Movement” will never forgive him for defeating them in the primaries, and are just looking for an excuse to betray him.
Donald Trump was always a calculated gamble for American patriots and National Conservatives. We knew he would arouse furious opposition. But the hope was he could build a durable political coalition to overcome it. He showed it is possible during the primary, but now he’s frittering it away by governing as a Ryan Republican. For his own sake, Trump simply can’t be put on the defensive.
And the Republican Party can’t lose the energy and enthusiasm of all those crossover Democrats and independents Donald Trump won to his cause during the campaign. Is Trump really willing to lose his most fervent supporters in order to appease a man who wouldn’t even defend him during the campaign? [Exclusive: Audio Emerges Of When Paul Ryan Abandoned Donald Trump, by Matthew Boyle, Breitbart, March 13, 2017].
Far from firing Bannon, Donald Trump needs to start advancing the agenda which got him elected. There are two ways to do this.
The first option: split the Democrats by pushing—
- Infrastructure, openly challenging the Democrats to support a vast new program. (The destruction of I-85 in Atlanta is a great opportunity to show the need);
- A public option for health care;
- A tariff to protect American industrial jobs and raise revenue, coupled with a decrease in income taxes.
But that may be too much to ask from Trump right now.
The second option: simply push popular programs that keep faith with Trump’s patriotic base on the National Question. And some of the legislation is already there—Trump just has to tweet endorsement!
- Tom Cotton’s Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act, which would cut LEGAL immigration and pay for American jobs.
- Steve King’s bill to implement English as the official language.
- Taxing remittances in order to keep his core campaign promise of making Mexico pay for The Wall.
- While it’s not directly related to immigration, standing up for academic freedom by tying university funding to free speech policies.
- And since personnel is policy, maybe it’s time for the hapless Spicer to go. Why not bring in Laura Ingraham?
We can’t endorse legislation here at VDARE.com. But just in terms of analysis, these are policies which President Trump could force Republicans to pass without too much trouble. It would re-energize his base. It would put the Democrats on the defensive. And it would force the MSM—the Official Opposition—to talk about issues, rather than trying to hype phony scandals.
Donald Trump is a political neophyte and so it makes sense he initially showed deference to the likes of Paul Ryan.
But if Trump’s victory showed anything, it’s that Republicans don’t just push stupid ideas, they are simply bad at electoral politics. Americans didn’t elect Donald Trump because they love Republicans or hate Democrats. They were looking for something genuinely new, a champion who could push the policies no one else could.
If Donald Trump breaks faith with these Americans looking for change, he’ll lose the only people willing to fight for him. And he’ll find his new Republican friends will throw him under the bus as gleefully as they tried to do during the campaign in its periodic rough patches when Trump lost his focus.
It’s time to Make Trump Trump Again. After all, we’re not tired of winning.
Indeed, we’re beginning to ask when the winning is going to even start.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.