By Max Newman
It has been nearly a year since President Donald Trump was elected against all odds on November 8, 2016. Since President Trump’s inauguration, America has seen a new Supreme Court Justice in Neil Gorsuch, the cutting of regulations, the gradual remaking of the judiciary, stricter immigration laws and a new Federal Reserve Chairman. However, it is unfortunate that not one major legislative accomplishment has been passed under President Trump, even though Republicans have control of both the U.S. House and the Senate. The blame for Trump’s lack of accomplishments in Congress lies not with the President, but with a group of weak and out of touch Republican Senators who refuse to admit that the modern Republican is changing before our eyes. It is time that the American people rise up as we did in 2016 and make the Senate GOP realize that the Republican Party is now the Party of Trump, and the Senate GOP must do as they promised.
During the 2016 campaign, it is well known that President Trump did not run as a traditional Republican. Instead of stressing trickle down economics, expressing support for free trade, and promising to cut Medicaid as most Republican candidates have done, Trump refreshingly spoke about “America First” nationalism, an ideology which emphasizes strong borders, an opposition to free trade, acting tough against radical Islam and prioritizing loyalty to America above all else. President Trump’s campaign, and to a relative degree his presidency, has espoused populism, as Trump has pledged to help “The Forgotten Men and Women of America”, the working class in Middle America who have been forgotten by the political establishment for far too long. This ideological divide between nationalist Republicans such as Steve Bannon and Donald Trump, compared with establishment Republicans such as George W Bush, John Kasich, Jeff Flake and John McCain, clearly prove that the Republican Party is engaged in a civil war. The first victory for the America First nationalists was in Alabama, when conservative Senate candidate Roy Moore defeated pro immigration, pro Common Core and McConnell backed candidate Luther Strange in the 2017 primaries. But unfortunately, even with the clear writing on the wall that the Republican Party is changing, it is not the Democrats who are Trump’s biggest roadblock to success, it is an out of touch group of Senate Republicans.
Trump’s fight in transforming the modern Republican Party will not be short, but Trump is making some headway. Two victories for Trump’s ideological allies occurred in the past few weeks, when milquetoast Republican Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona decided not to run for re-election. Senators Corker and Flake have been two of President Trump’s most outspoken critics on the Senate Republican side, with Senator Corker calling President Trump “incompetent” and Senator Flake repeatedly declaring President Trump a “danger to democracy”, as well as saying that President Trump’s behavior is “reckless and outrageous”. Senator Jeff Flake has been the Senate GOP’s most outspoken Trump critic. The Donald noted in his speech that Flake’s moderate views from the Bush era may not have a place in today’s Republican Party. Flake said, “It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative, who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party, the party that has so long defined itself by its belief in those things. It’s also clear to me for the moment that we have given in or given up on the core principles in favor of a more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment.”
Senator Flake, for once, halfway gets it. Flake realizes that as Trump advisor Stephen Moore told Congressional Republicans in January, the Republican Party is no longer the Party of Reaganism, but the Party of Trumpism. Moore is right, and Flake sort of realizes this. The Republican Party is slowly transforming into a nationalist and populist party, as Trump’s allies are working to to put America and Americans First, by not selling our working class out to bad trade deals, by securing our borders, by honoring and respecting law enforcement and by working to prevent the outsourcing of American jobs to Asia.
This transformation from a party of supply side economics, praising outsourcing and automation, as well as neoconservative interventions in countries like Iraq, into an America First Party angers the out of touch political class in Washington D.C. Republican voters have seen this with John McCain loudly denouncing Trump’s “half-baked nationalism” and stressing that American leadership abroad is vital. McCain, one the most vocal senators in favor of America still being the world’s police officer even after several failed experiments in nation building, does not understand or accept the fact that Republican voters are sick and tired of nation building and getting involved in foreign wars. Likewise, Senator Lindsey Graham, who in July stressed his support for amnesty for illegal immigrants and expressed support for outsourcing American jobs to Asia, also does not understand that Republican voters no longer want this either.
Republican voters will no longer accept feckless and submissive Republican senators like Flake and Corker, who sell ordinary Americans out, while preaching about American “values” and how getting tough on immigration “isn’t who we are”. It is time that Republican voters rise up in the same anger and resentment that Jeff Flake denounces and vote out every out of touch Republican senator, none of whom seems to accept that the party is changing before their eyes. We should follow Steve Bannon’s lead as he declares war on the GOP establishment, who sadly still rule the halls of the US Capitol, and rise up to send more anti-Trump Republican lawmakers home. Republican voters did it in Alabama by propelling Roy Moore to victory, and we can do it again. We need to do this to get the Republican Party on the same page, because as Ronald Reagan once said, “When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”