Dennis Prager And My Hopes as a Conservative Trump Dissenter
I want to say at the beginning that I hope all of the reveling in a Republican victory, control of the executive and both houses of the legislative branch and prospective conservative corrections and progress prove justified, even though there will be FAR from a filibuster-proof Senate majority. I am approaching sixty years of age as a conservative since a young boy. And I’m frankly amazed that a bellicose, ambiguous and rhetorically maladroit candidate was the Republican nominee chosen from a field that included an unprecedented field of demonstrably able and proven dedicated conservatives. There was Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio…Are you KIDDING me?
Any of them would have easily been the most able conservative president since Reagan. And I would have been at last returned to peace of mind about American governance. But if Donald Trump performs like a lot of conservatives believe he will, it will be a boon for America, most notably minorities and young people who are supposedly most threatened. There will be work, prosperity, dignity and purpose for them, not the shortage of those that there is now. Never mind the security and world stability that is really the primary duty of the federal government; the executive specifically. But I want that clear before I jostle the punch bowl of the celebration.
However, I also hope Congress will not swoon from conservative principle if a Trump executive leads otherwise. When Republicans controlled the executive and legislative branches after 2000, they expanded a federal entitlement, expanded the federal Department of Education, and grew government and spending at the fastest pace since Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” in the mid-60s. At least they had a revenue surge after a tax cut. From all I have seen relative to Donald Trump, George W. Bush was more conservatively disposed (some vs. hardly at all) and certainly a giant of a human being and responsible commander in-chief.
Though I’ve added others recently, Dennis Prager has been my favorite talk-show host for many years because of his distinctive priorities of following the logical implication of ideas, seeking clarity of disagreement over a rabid pursuit of agreement, and judging values and actions above persons and words. It was after Trump’s nomination to be sure, but Prager’s advocacy for Trump at that point, was one of my few points of disagreement, and a strong one.
Prager’s clear articulation of an aversion calculation is the best example of the majority of Republicans who supported HIM to stop THEM. And Wednesday Prager was fairly jubilant like the Munchkins over the death of the witch; the Left generally not Hillary specifically. “Ding Dong, the witch is dead!” If such a conquest of Leftism is the case, and conservatism was boosted, I will be right there with Prager. But there are a lot of questions to ask. Some may shortly be asked by Prager himself among others conservatives.
Along the way, Prager exulted that the Left “didn't know what hit them.” Maybe not, but what hit them was their own left hand. The right hand of the Left are their writers and commenters, their interest groups, academics, and progressive politicians. The left hand are the masses to whom they promote victimhood and resentment. Trump copped that card right from the beginning.
It's what got Trump primary support among a small minority of non-ideological sentimental Republicans who combined with more crossover Democrats to make Trump a plurality vote leader. And it's what won him the general election among non-ideological sentimental Democrats. LOOK where the decisive contests on Tuesday were. Trump won where necessary to even make it reasonably close. That includes Ohio where polls had actually shown him slightly in the lead. But WISCONSIN, MICHIGAN AND PENNSYLVANIA?!! That's what decided it.
Monday, I agreed with a nationally known conservative who looked at polling and Trump’s lack of any developed ground game in predicting his uneventful loss, and then speculated about the only way I could imagine a win:
“So like his media based and propagated primary effort outscored Ted Cruz' meticulous traditional organizing and fundraising tactics., Trump will have to win the general election with unprecedented emotional agitation; a traditional Democrat strategy.”
That is what happened, most starkly and decisively in those states. Republicans haven't won a presidential contest in Michigan or Pennsylvania since George H.W. Bush ran essentially for Ronald Reagan's third term in 1988. And they haven't won Wisconsin since 1984! This is the American geographic center of traditional industrial labor union Democrats. Without those states, Trump would have been closer than predictions, but he wouldn’t have won. And I assume it’s similar populations that were the margin of victory in other battleground states. The tack this year proved good for the election. But a repudiation of the Left? Good for conservatism? I have strong doubts.
It is fortunate though I didn’t understand it that people like Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee got inside the Trump tent with their support. Gingrich was the real reason for the 90s economy for which Bill Clinton got credit. Though Democrats said Clinton’s upper income personal tax increase charged the economy (however that would work), it was Gingrich’s part of the compromise, a large capital gains tax cut, that spurred economic activity. It’s hard for me to understand how it isn’t unavoidably obvious how that promoted commercial investment. Gingrich is a historian and like former Governor Huckabee well understands the constitutional jurisdiction of state v. federal power, in case there are is any continued temptation to inappropriate federal usurpation.
- The FIRST thing Trump said after individually recognizing all the “tremendous, “terrific” “incredible” people who contributed to the victory, was that we would rebuild our roads and bridges and other “infra-structure” (the quotes are important) and make it the best in the world, and make jobs doing it. That is boilerplate Democrat; their government planning and government employment priority. Why was that the lead? It sounds like the mantra etched in the mind of Democrat governing, of which he was long an observer in New York.
- When Trump’s nomination was looking more likely, good conservative economists like Stephen Moore and Larry Kudlow jumped in to build him a decent plan. Why not begin with the plan for economic expansion that will create new opportunities and government revenue to actually pay for upgrading what is necessary for infra-structure? Sure, the federal government can maintain interstate highways, facilities and national parks. But we should do that on the foundation of a thriving productive society.
- And what about federal defense and foreign policy, the prime constitutional federal responsibility? Congress will surely put legislation on Trump’s desk to revive the capacity that Barack Obama has methodically dissipated, and I hope we can assume he will sign it. But what will Trump do if Vladimir Putin is breathing down the neck of Ukraine, Georgia or the Baltic republics? What if China threatens Taiwan or other interests? What if that nut in North Korea starts lining up rockets or even nukes? We know he attended a rally early on with Ted Cruz in opposition to that Iran deal that leaves them in nuclear planning. So, what will Trump do about that development? I really don’t know.
- We can only look beyond the incoherence of his spontaneous and often leftist and self-contradictory statements about things like national health care, taxing wealth that would otherwise fund innovating and job-creating efforts, religious and local liberties, trade tariffs, guns and other things. Conservatives must counsel Trump and hold him responsible to wise and prudent policy. And there is a whole lot of air that must be bled from how The Fed has diminished the ultimate value of the currency.
- And of course, there are the courts. Conservatives are in a big hole in the federal justice system and on the ledge with the Supreme Court. Conservative Senators need to rally Republican Senators to insist on Supreme Court nominees from the list Ted Cruz got a commitment to in delivering his support. And be assured that Chuck Schumer will do everything possible to block those nominees. Republicans can’t bend and if necessary must change Senate rules if Democrats are intransigent.
Honestly, I can’t know how Trump will act based on his random pile of unorganized spontaneous thoughts and ambitions. But conservatives need to use a functional cattle-prod if necessary to move constitutional conservative policy and reignite production, prosperity and opportunity for all Americans. Obviously, that is the priority. And if it materializes I will be thankful to God for gracing us with what it seems we did not earn of ourselves.