The GOP is pumped about Donald Trump’s victory. Many didn’t think they’d picked a winner when poor temperament, a string of scandals, and his lack of a filter turned into recurring themes from the convention until election day. His opponent proved to be equally flawed, helping him to lose the election a little less than Hillary Clinton did. She won the race to the bottom, leaving Trump on top by default.
As a bonus, the media’s drumbeat of “I’m (secretly) with Her” helped Republican Senators retain their majority. Now, the party has a relatively clear path to initiate the changes and promote their agenda for at least two more years. Will they get a lot done? Probably, though one should never underestimate the uncanny ability to squander opportunities that both major parties have demonstrated for over a decade.
One thing that won’t be on the agenda is the reduction of federal government power. We can expect some attempts at bold moves to reduce the size of government; I wouldn’t recommend filling out an application for a job at the EPA any time soon. However, we won’t see them giving up any of the powers that they’ve unconstitutionally accumulated for the last century. That was never on Trump’s agenda and those in Congress who support such measures are a minuscule group.
This is one of the biggest reasons we’re building the Federalist Party. As I posted in our launch email following election day, there are two opposing groups now in the GOP. The Establishment is entrenched even if they’re now facing the biggest threat to their power base since Ronald Reagan. Across from them at the negotiating table is the Trump camp, aka the populists, aka the alt-right. They’ve never had a real voice in party leadership. Now, they don’t just have the President of the United States on their side. They also have the loudest voices in “conservative” media ready to target any Establishment leaders who dare to oppose their agenda. Breitbart, Sean Hannity, and Drudge all have their sights set on certain targets. The 2016 election may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory for party leaders like Paul Ryan and his ilk.
What does this mean for small-government-minded folks? Will people like Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and the Freedom Caucus in the House be able to hold sway over Republican actions for the next two years? Probably not. Any influence that seemed to be growing in recent years for liberty-loving Constitutionalists has been wiped away. They went from being the conservative conscience of the party to an afterthought with this election. Power struggles within parties are almost always two-sided in American politics and the true conservatives are now third on the list. This is why the Federalist Party is necessary. The Democratic-Republican superparty might bicker over most issues, but maintaining big government is a familiar waltz that they’ll dance to hand-in-hand.
Anyone who claims to know what to expect from a Trump presidency with majorities in both chambers of Congress either didn’t pay attention for the last year and a half or has a book to promote. If this election has taught us anything, it’s that Trump and the party he adopted will surprise everyone from time to time. We should support their good actions and oppose their careless ones. It’s fair to assume that both will happen. In the meantime, now is the time to regroup and rebuild the true conservative movement. There will be impostors popping up; “conservatism” has been co-opted by so many groups that it has essentially been redefined to represent whatever a group says it is. For example, it wasn’t too long ago when free trade was considered a tenet of fiscal conservatism. Since Trump came along pushing “fair trade” as the goal for conservatives, a whopping 85% of Republicans now believe free trade costs more jobs than it creates compared to 54% of Democrats.
Many will argue that we need to give the GOP a chance now that they have control and I wholeheartedly agree. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t fight back as they continue their leftward lurch. The vehicle for reining in federal powers will be federalism. It’s a vehicle we now have to rebuild from the ground up to preserve America’s future.