Why Republicans Need to Rally around Trump
During the 2016 campaign, numerous prominent conservatives opposed the Trump candidacy and warned that its success would be inexorably bad for conservatism.
Some two months into his presidency, rifts between Donald Trump and conservatives are in plain sight. The new president has blamed the recent failure to repeal and replace Obamacare on the conservative House Freedom Caucus. In various presidential tweets, he named and blamed various caucus members and even threatened to fight against the group along with Democrats in the midterm elections of 2018.
Were Trump’s conservative critics correct all along that he is bad for their cause?
While the failure to repeal Obamacare is no doubt a setback for the Trump administration and Republicans in general, conservatives should nevertheless be heartened by the overall progress made and broad direction set by the new president. Unconventional though his presidency may be—and it certainly is, beyond the wildest imagination—Trump has pursued an agenda that is friendly to many of conservatism’s cherished ideals.
Since his inauguration, President Trump has picked a cabinet that many acknowledge is the most conservative in history and nominated Neil Gorsuch, a highly respected conservative judge, to the Supreme Court. Furthermore, he has pursued regulatory reform, border and homeland security and pro-market measures that conservatives have long supported.
While controversies—ranging from Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential campaign to Trump’s accusations of the Obama administration’s “wiretapping”—have kept pundits and lawmakers busy, far less attention has been paid to the steady stream of White House executive orders and actions that chip away at the excess and absurdity of the federal regulatory state.
Since his inauguration, President Trump has done the following.
• Instructed every federal agency to establish a task force to study regulatory reform and make recommendations for simplifying and repealing cumbersome regulations.
• Required federal agencies to identify two regulations for elimination before issuing a new one.
• Ordered a comprehensive plan for reorganizing the Executive Branch (including by eliminating unnecessary agencies) to improve efficiency, accountability and effectiveness.
• Imposed a hiring freeze (that exempts the military) across the Executive Branch.
Conservatives have long complained about the gargantuan size of the federal government, the cumbersome regulations that stunt job growth and hamper entrepreneurship, and the army of faceless, nameless bureaucrats who waste taxpayer money but are seemingly immune to removal based on performance.
Trump, not known as a conservative, has taken the first steps toward thwarting the stupidity of government excess. Obviously, much more beyond the initial executive orders will be required to enact real, far-reaching regulatory reform. Still, conservatives should be pleased with the progress made during Trump’s first days in office.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has begun to remove Obama-era financial regulations and economic roadblocks that conservatives have long considered to be burdensome to the market.
Thus far, the administration has enacted the following measures.
• Commenced the rollback of various Obama administration energy regulations, including the controversial Clean Power Plan that restricts greenhouse gas emissions but have been criticized by conservatives for hurting jobs in the coal industry.
• Permitted the construction of the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access oil pipelines, both of which create jobs and deliver crude oil across the United States but stalled under the previous administration.
• Moved to reverse Obama-era financial regulations, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act regulations passed after the global financial crisis of 2008 to 2009 that have been criticized by conservatives for hampering lending, harming community banks and stunting economic growth.
Other Obama-era regulations have been targeted as well, with President Trump promising to “remove every job-killing regulation we can find.” These are words that should be music to conservative ears.
Border and Homeland Security
Trump’s rhetoric and actions on securing the border and defending the homeland against radical Islamic terrorism have created huge controversies. In many ways, they strike squarely at the core of what matters to conservatives: sovereignty and security. While plenty of Republicans, like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Arizona Sen. John McCain, are eager to offer amnesty to illegal immigrants, conservatives in the GOP base see things differently, and expressed their preferences accordingly by voting Trump into office.
Since assuming office, Trump has taken the following actions.
• Authorized the immediate plan, design and construction of “a physical wall along the southern border.” The Department of Homeland Security has in turn solicited bids from vendors for such a wall.