Trump the (convenient) conservative

Erick Erickson has the proper attitude toward Donald Trump:

I maintain a healthy skepticism toward President Trump’s Administration. I must concede he has surrounded himself with a lot of good, competent people. His appointments within the executive branch have been stellar. I must also concede that increasingly many of his gut level reactions are recognizably conservative. But I also think his Twitter behavior, lack of strategic planning, protectionism, and strong man rhetoric do him more harm than good. His White House political operation, being the dog that caught the car, now thinks it can play traffic cop, and I see no concerted effort under way to mitigate leftwing energies headed into 2018.

All that said, and said largely to avoid the inevitable arrows and rocks thrown when saying something nice about President Trump, let me also say this.

Winston Churchill said of himself, “I am not a pillar of the [Church of England] but a buttress – I support it from the outside.” Donald Trump is serving, to various degrees, as a buttress to conservatism.

The media has fixated on how little his administration has gotten done. I think they should be fixated on how many things he has rolled back. It is hard to advance down the field when you’re reshaping the field. It is hard to move forward while rewinding. The President is systematically undoing much of the last eight years on the regulatory front. He has enabled solid conservative political operatives to go into the executive branch and undo many of the regulations Barack Obama’s merry band of leftwing progressives championed. He has issued executive orders to mitigate damage caused by Barack Obama. To the extent he has signed legislation, he has signed legislation to repeal various Obama era regulations and statutorily prohibit such regulations being enacted in the future.

That’s a pretty big win by advancing no fronts, but rather shrinking previously expanded fronts.

Then there is the judiciary. The President is sending up a series of extremely conservative jurists to pile into the federal judiciary. These are, more often than not, men and women on the young side who have established conservative pedigrees. Their paper trails make it less likely they will go wobbly in the future.

What Donald Trump cannot do, they will do. They will ensure Washington stays in check and the constitution does not breathe.

On taxation, the President wants to lower the corporate income tax rate to 15%, which should have long ago happened. It is a pretty bold plan for restructuring the tax rate and we should not ignore his alterations to the personal income tax rate as well. Though it will be difficult to get it all passed through congress as designed, it is a very bold step in the right direction.

Government spending, in light of the tax plan, needs to be reconsidered and constrained. I still believe debt and deficit matter. Likewise, the President continues to ignore his promise to religious voters on the matters of religious liberty that most affect people of faith today. There is much to do and many improvements that can be made.

But no man is perfect. On top of that, we should all acknowledge that the American voters had enough of career politicians making promises and breaking them. Instead, they chose a complete outsider with no government experience reasoning he could be no worse. To be sure, he makes different mistakes, has different errors, and is more prone to the impolitic, but is he really worse than those who came before him screwing up everything in their wake?

Thus far it seems not. It just seems different.

We should be willing to hold the President accountable and criticize where warranted. But we should also be willing to praise where warranted. And on multiple fronts the President is serving as a buttress to the conservative agenda. But for him, in these areas, the walls would collapse. He should be applauded for that.

I am starting to subscribe to the theory that compares Trump not to Bernie Sanders (each party’s leading outsider), but to Bill Clinton. Recall how Clinton, shall we say, evolved between 1993, when he was elected with a Democratic Congress, and 2001, after six years of a Republican Congress. Clinton has always been about Clinton, and Trump is about Trump. Trump has a Republican Congress, so he’s acting like a Republican. There’s a message there about the 2018 elections.

 

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