My first choice for GOP nominee in 2016 was not Donald Trump. He wasn’t my second choice either. Nope, I didn’t know what to make of him nor did I trust him – and I was paying way too much attention to Conservative ideologues.
Ideology in Action .. or not
I’ve read Kirk, Hayek, Burke, Weaver, Friedman, and Buckley. I’ve spent mountains of time reading Conservative articles and watching pundits preach the gospels of pre and post-WWII Conservatism. I am still a believer, but the inability of dyed-in-the-wool Conservative politicians to accomplish anything substantial leaves a question for me as a Conservative: if “Ideas Have Consequence,” why has Conservatism been unable to capitalize?
As I wrote in 2010, Conservatives often forget that not everyone buries their head in the bibles of the ideology. Many that readily identify with a smaller central government, empowerment of the individual, and American exceptionalism don’t spend hours or days sifting through CATO and Heritage manifestos to understand the fine points.
We cannot be snobbish about the ideology. We cannot exclude those that don’t really like Richard Weaver’s style or have time to read Toqueville’s hefty wordage. We should not exclude anyone because of errant comments, or mistakes in their younger days. We have to take Conservatives and conservatives for their values and all work together to protect those values, our way of life, and the future our children so much deserve.
This is something that Donald Trump understands better than any politician or ideologue – if we can’t apply the philosophy and turn it into action, it has no more intrinsic value than the paper it is printed upon. Trump has taken to heart expanding the Republican and Conservative brand by turning it into the American brand and including anyone willing to work together to “Make America Great Again.”
I doubted then-candidate Trump. His ties to the Clintons, Hollywood and New York were anathema to me. I misunderstood them and him.
As the nominees fell, one-by-one, some sticking ardently to the ideology while others said whatever it took to get elected, Trump’s message started to affect me. His list of Conservative Supreme Court Justices, promises to shrink the federal government and lack of ties to any political organization or group all began to pull me in – but I was still skeptical.
When election day came, I filled in my ballot still wondering if I was dooming the nation to 4 years of Trump. Would he sell out to the party? Would he renege on his promises? Would he become the Clinton fan-boy moderate lefty that so many predicted? It would take until January to know for sure.
How Trump Got My Attention
On January 31st, 2017, I realized my vote had mattered. Not from the populist, ‘America First’ angle, but from a Big-C Conservative one. President Donald Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. That nomination will shape the laws of the nation for decades. If Donald Trump did nothing else, this one fulfilled promise was worth my vote. I began to lose my misgivings. The skepticism lowered to a realistic level. I wasn’t yelling “Trump, Trump, Trump,” but I was no longer worried that he would push the nation even further to the left.
But I wondered if he would have the strength to reverse the decades of progressivism harming working families, college students, and America as a whole?
Regulations began falling one after another, a school-choice advocate was placed at the head of the Department of Education, unfair trade agreements began to be renegotiated, the size of the government workforce was reduced for the first time in decades, manufacturers started returning to the country in droves – all of this just to start.
Trump is now nominating young, Conservative judges to lifetime positions on Federal benches in record numbers while the media busily chases a Russian ghost. The witch hunt will be forgotten in short order while his Conservatization of the federal judiciary will last a lifetime. That’s action.
Conservative pundits and mainstream media focus on Trump’s optics and words while missing the lasting promise of his deeds. Constantly writing about this tweet or that, this poll or another all while failing to observe that he’s the first politician in a generation to accomplish Conservative goals. It’s dishonest and unhelpful.
Perhaps I finally converted to Trumpism when I saw the Republican establishment turn on him, again, after just a few months in the White House. He would not “bend the knee” to globalist power grabbers. He was his own man and owed nothing to anybody and started to look like the first people’s president since Ronald Reagan.
As the economy approaches 3% growth despite inaction in Congress, the anti-Trump brigade struggles to understand what’s happening. Trump’s approval ratings are terrible, they say. But, lest they forget that those are the same polls that predicted his loss in 2016.
Sens. Jeff Flake, John McCain, Marco Rubio, along with Bill Kristol and others are leading an anti-Trump movement in the Republican party. Writing anti-Trump books, bashing Trump in the media hoping to get re-elected or thought more important by opposing the president. It’s the same thinking that has seen Congress fail to accomplish Conservative goals for 30 years. It’s time to leave them behind.
Will Republicans come around?
Not all is lost on the GOP. RNC Chairwoman Romney McDaniel warned members of Congress to get behind the President or prepare to lose in 2018.
“And I will tell you, it is overwhelmingly ‘Congress needs to support this president,'” McDaniel said of the feedback she receives from Republican voters. “And so what I say to people as I travel the country is, ‘We were sent President Trump, and voters gave us a Senate and a House so President Trump could accomplish his agenda.’ And they want to see Congress working with this president.”
“And there is a jeopardy in 2018 if we can’t accomplish the things that we ran on,” she continued.
Trump has done more to advance the Conservative cause than anyone in Congress. They talk, they posture, condemn and preach – then, accomplish symbolic victories like passing Obamacare repeal (over and over) knowing Obama wouldn’t sign it. Inaction and false actions breed disillusion within the base and will ultimately lead to a legislature full of nothing but blowhard ideologues making promises they know they can’t keep.
For now, I’m a convert
The president seems sincerely focused on jobs, the economy, crime and national security. He’s had to use executive actions, the bully pulpit, the courts and personal involvement to achieve his goals because the ideologues and politicians in Congress are unable to accomplish anything. Americans with better job prospects, renewed optimism, and love for their country appreciate the work Trump has done for them.
And for all of that, for now, I’m a convert.