Some people still can’t stomach the idea of a Donald Trump presidency and so remain in denial about his mounting policy successes, but their resistance is looking increasingly proud and petty.
It’s risky to predict future trends, especially the political fortunes of government leaders and the results they might achieve, because there are so many moving parts. We’ve seen so much volatility and fluidity, and we have a plethora of unknowns. So I admit that it would be foolish to take for granted that President Trump will continue to rack up remarkable, substantive policy achievements, but it would be just as foolish to deny the significance of his accomplishments already, on a variety of fronts — or to pretend that it wouldn’t have mattered much if Hillary Clinton had won the election.
Could we at least acknowledge that a third Obama term via Clinton would have been “A Nightmare on Elm Street”?
To fully appreciate this, we Republicans should admit that even when our party is in office, we often fail to appreciably advance the conservative agenda — and sometimes don’t even temporarily halt the relentless advancement of the progressive agenda, which is virtually on autopilot these days.
There has been a prevailing attitude of deference among garden-variety GOP officeholders that inhibits them from reversing liberal policies, no matter how disastrous they are or how illegally they were implemented. It was in recognition of this institutional cowardice and apathy that Obama ran roughshod over them and the Constitution — knowing that if he signed legislation or implemented executive orders, no matter how unconstitutional, they would most likely remain in perpetuity. Most Republican candidates talk like Ronald Reagan when campaigning but act like feckless centrists in office.
The Trump presidency, so far, has been dramatically different. He has aggressively attacked Obama’s statist achievements and affirmatively promoted conservative policies on multiple fronts — and it’s immensely gratifying to behold.
He is taking action on all the branches of government — the legislative, executive and judicial branches and the unrecognized administrative branch. Considering its unaccountability and its reach, the administrative state might as well be a branch. It is a progressive’s dream because it expands government irrespective of which party is in power.
Until now, it was as if Republicans had resigned themselves to the inevitable expansion of the regulatory state and their powerlessness to curb it, much less reverse it. But refreshingly, Trump, with his newness to politics, has shown that he isn’t paralyzed by such assumptions. He is eradicating regulations at an unprecedented pace and has reversed some of the more egregious Obama power abuses, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s draconian carbon emission standards that he crammed through.
What might have been unthinkable before Trump has become not only thinkable but also doable — and done — and this is true despite grudging criticisms of naysayers, including those on the right.
Some say that Trump doesn’t deserve credit for his accomplishments because his subordinates accomplished them or because they would have happened under any Republican president. And besides, they huff, no matter what successes he’s had, they’re not worth it, considering the alleged damage to the GOP and conservative brands he is doing.
I strongly doubt that many of these accomplishments would have occurred under any Republican president. Many of them wouldn’t have even been tried. And the idea that Trump doesn’t deserve credit for major policy accomplishments occurring under his watch, especially those he promised to implement during the campaign, is ludicrous.
I also reject that he’s damaging the Republican brand. For the most part, he has not promoted a so-called populist agenda as some feared but is gravitating more every day toward mainstream conservatism. Talking about conservatism doesn’t enhance the brand nearly so much as action, and we’re seeing a lot of action.
Let’s look at some of his achievements, acknowledging at the outset that he has been remarkably true to his campaign promises and that had he lost, there is no telling what kind of corruption would have continued undetected by a deep state protected under the impenetrable umbrella of a Clinton presidency.
The economy is robust and growing, with unemployment at 3.9 percent, the lowest since 2000. Manufacturing is up. The promised tax law is producing record revenues, despite cynics’ predictions to the contrary, and it has led to a wave of optimism throughout the business sector and widespread employee wage hikes and bonuses.
Though — regrettably — we have yet to make inroads in congressional spending, at least the ailing defense sector is receiving a needed shot in the arm, the importance of which cannot be overstated in these tumultuous times. Trump continues to rack up foreign policy wins, from North Korea (nukes and hostages) to the Islamic State group to Afghanistan to NATO to Iran (keeping his promise to withdraw from Obama’s disastrous deal) to Israel (recognizing Jerusalem, announcing his plan to move our embassy there and finally treating the country as an ally instead of an enemy). South Korea and Japan have increased their defense budgets. Gloriously, we’ve withdrawn from the Paris climate accord.
His judicial appointments have been stellar across the board. There has been a substantial decline in southern border crossings. The EPA administrator has rescinded scores of regulations. Trump has eliminated prohibition of interstate health insurance sales and has cashiered the Obamacare employer mandate. The FCC is torpedoing the left’s net neutrality agenda.
He approved the Keystone XL pipeline, which was beginning to look more like a pipedream than a pipeline. He rescinded the Arctic drilling ban and the coal mining ban on public lands. He has increased energy production and ended Obama’s abominable war on coal.
He’s made advances on religious liberty and restored the ban on the federal funding of abortion overseas, begun to revamp the space program, and targeted MS-13 gang members for deportation.
You don’t need to idolize President Trump, approve of all his tweets or celebrate his former playboy lifestyle to acknowledge this stunning string of accomplishments. But if you think that America isn’t dramatically better off than under Obama or that things aren’t immensely better than they would have been under Clinton, I’m not sure we’re on the same planet.