“At least it isn’t Hillary.”
These words of solace for conservatives who opposed Donald Trump may have many if not most of the old NeverTrumpers feeling a little better about prospects for the future. Then again, it doesn’t do much to change the perspectives for those of us who are watching the Republican Party descend even further down the path towards big government, big budgets, and federal overreach.
What’s done is done. Now isn’t the time to imagine what a President Cruz, Walker, Paul, or Rubio would be doing differently. Barack Obama is leaving office and somehow the world didn’t end at some point in the last eight years, so there’s that. With Trump taking over before the weekend, it’s time for conservatives to put on our magical discernment glasses and pull out our handy-dandy dissenting megaphones in preparation for any leftward lurches the new Republican government throws in our direction.
Before we get into the three things to watch for, it’s important to understand the reasons we should expect them:
- Trump 2020 starts today. Any thoughts that he would finish one term and hand it off to Mike Pence in 2020 can be dissolved. He’s already locking down “Keep America Great” as his possible slogan for 2020. While many underestimated his ability to plan ahead, they didn’t notice that he grabbed “Make America Great Again” six days after Mitt Romney lost. He’s a planner and a winner. Keep all of this in mind when you consider what he might do in the next three years to win over more voters.
- He’s a liberal at heart. Trump’s liberal leanings have been covered ad nauseam. For this election, he leaned right on many issues such as immigration, but he was careful not to go too far to the right on most issues because, as he says, he can change his opinion at will. Against Hillary Clinton, he needed to maintain as much of his right-leaning message intact as possible, but we can expect him to hold Republicans with immigration while shifting fiscally and socially to the left.
- It’s easiest to sell to a salesman. Knowing that he wants to win a second term, we can be certain that he’ll find the right buttons to push based upon popular opinion. Moreover, he’s a great salesman. Great salesmen are the easiest marks for other great salesmen. If Chuck Schumer, George Soros, or even Barack Obama can convince him that he’ll be more popular if he does this, that, or the other, he’s inclined to check it out. Throughout his Presidency, we can expect Trump to wet his thumb and stick it in the air to test the winds. Where they lead, he’ll follow.
We all know the obvious things to watch for: Obamacare lingering or getting “tweaked,” big infrastructure projects that require another trillion or two rapidly added to the debt number, and free market capitalism getting usurped by fair trade and restrictive mandates. Here are three things that we should also consider that may or may not already be on your watch list.
Progressive Economic Measures
Trump has hinted at certain pieces of liberal fiscal ideologies that he favors. From a $10 national minimum wage to Ivanka’s childcare measures, he’s never shied away from turning left on money. After all, he once said, “the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans.”
The key is selling it to the Republican Congress. We’ve already seen his ability to turn “fair trade” into an idea that most Republicans suddenly favor after being the party of free trade for decades. What else can he sell them?
The way that Trump handled evangelicals this election cycle was a clinic in saying just enough without saying anything at all. He was vocal about wanting everyone to say, “Merry Christmas.” He waved around a Bible and even attempted to read a Bible verse or two out loud. What he didn’t do was make any specific mentions of issues important to Christians outside of abortion.
This could be a setup for a universal form of ecumenism that goes beyond uniting denominations and heads towards unifying all religions. I know what you’re thinking: this has never been a topic that he’s directly broached. However, he’s never been attended to by those who would push for such a concept. The people who push “Chrislam” and other religious unity topics didn’t think he’d win, so what was the point? Now that he’s in office, he’s going to be their biggest target. What they’re selling makes sense on the surface. “Imagine if all religions accepted each other…”
Yes, Trump would likely support it. What would it mean? That’s a big topic for a future post.
Consolidation of Executive Power
Okay, so this isn’t one that would shock anybody. We know that he craves power. We know he’s a man of action. We know he doesn’t like waiting for others to move. What you may not have considered is just how far he could turn against the Constitution and sell the concept of doing so to Americans, even conservatives.
I can already hear the sales pitch. “As CEO, I could get things done. Now, as President, I’m stuck waiting for bureaucrats to stop twiddling their thumbs. My predecessor used his pen and his phone to make things happen. I’m going to do the same thing to undo what he did and to get important things done around here.”
It won’t be subtle. It won’t be hidden behind some cleverly erected veil. He will do it openly and with devastating impact to the Constitution.
At this point, all we can do is wait and see. Of course, that doesn’t mean we have to do so passively. Stay alert. Watch what he and Congress do while the rest of America is looking in the other direction. Mainstream media is looking for scandals. It’s up to conservative media, bloggers, and social media users to notice the non-scandals that can do much more harm than good.