I have just reread an entry I wrote in my personal journal last November after Trump’s stunning electoral victory. I regret not having posted it on this blog at the time because it has proven to be prophetic after less than 3 months of the Trump presidency. I can’t take too much credit though, since these circumstances weren’t all that difficult to predict.
Here is an excerpt from that journal entry from November 19, 2016:
I have been surprised at some of the initial reaction to Trump’s victory among conservatives. There seems to be a relief that a Republican won the office and that Republicans control Congress. I am confused by this, since the Republicans have shown a marked paralysis when it comes to leading on any issue except saving themselves from criticism from the left. I think even the cautious optimism many people are urging is unjustified. It requires me to forget everything I have witnessed in politics over the last 20 years.
Additionally I made this prediction about Obamacare:
Trump will not repeal Obamacare. It would be foolish from a practical point of view unless it is packaged with a replacement the next day. All evidence from his past points to the fact that Trump is a Progressive, so I am fairly certain he won’t choose a free market approach on Healthcare.
Where are we today? There was hope among evangelicals that Trump, who does not appear to have many principles, would be malleable in the hands of good conservative advisors. Unfortunately, his choice of advisors was poor because it was made based on paying back support during the campaign. This is not unusual under normal circumstances, but we must remember this candidate ran as a populist who was going to “drain the swamp.”
To date Trump has been defeated on immigration and healthcare and has done nothing on religious freedom. The defeat on healthcare was a total humiliation. There are several things that went wrong. First, he let the Republican establishment lead him during the legislative process. This group has no incentive to make Trump look good. I also think Trump is a supporter of government run healthcare, so he was unable to see that this bill was disastrous for his base. In any case, he made it clear he didn’t care what passed as long as something passed and he could claim a political victory, as fleeting as it would be.
Everyone by now knows that no bill was passed. Trump and the establishment Republicans blame the Freedom Caucus. The irony is that Trump is now attacking the very demographic that he relied on to win his election. The Freedom Caucus is asserting that the Republicans including Trump are selling out the voters and they are right. Regardless of which side you are on, one thing has become obvious. The Republicans in charge of their party have very little in common with the conservatives in their base. They do not share the same value system. The Republican party has bought into the Progressive world view wholeheartedly, which is a large part of what the populist uprising in November was opposed to. Because the Progressive view is diametrically opposed to the views of conservatives, it is obvious there is not room in the party for everyone.
The statement above now seems so obvious to me that I am embarrassed that I didn’t include it in my November analysis. Before the election, when we all knew Donald Trump was going to lose, the Republican party was tearing itself apart over the nomination of Trump. For some reason, after he won we all held hands and sang folk songs for three months, deluding ourselves into thinking that the divisions within the Republican party did not exist any more. We’ve all been rudely awakened from our dreams now.
So what happens next? Many were talking about a third party before the election. These latest events have galvanized some into believing it is a necessity. I only wonder if enough people who can make a difference have the courage to make a stand once they count the cost. Separating from the Republican party will likely be followed by many years in exile for conservatives, but perhaps afterwards they will have a new platform to convey their morally superior ideas to the people without being lost in the noise of intraparty squabbling. For them it may be the best option, since they will not win a single battle with this president and this congress in power.