Where Do We Go From Here?: The Lessons of a Trump Presidency

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

When we voted in November, I did something I never thought I would do:  Vote for Donald Trump.  As the time approached the elections and the media spun up their 24 hour-a-day outrage cycle, I realized that my own personal and ideological issues with Trump aside, what the Democrats were proposing was dangerous for the country.  I absolutely love many of the Trump policies and feel that many of my original concerns about Trump were unfounded.  He did many good things for the country, and three Supreme Court picks will definitely do the country some good for years to come.

Unfortunately in many ways, Trump lulled us into a sense of security in our ability to win elections.  His brash, bull in a china shop approach to things always made him a headline, often impressing people like me in his ability to shed off controversy in no time flat. I absolutely adored his willingness to call out journalists as opposed to trying to cozy up to them despite no change in favorability of coverage.  What I liked about Trump was his willingness to do what was best ideologically, as opposed to what was liked by others.  Trump’s approach, at the time, was the blunt object by which we fought the left.

Unfortunately, and likely due to fraudulent actions, President Trump lost in November, leading us to a crossroads within the Republican Party.  Where do we go from here?

First and foremost, the answer to that question is not “back.” The days of the Boehner and Ryan party are over.  They were impotent leaders.   Instead of fearlessly facing the left when confronted, they bowed to pressure and often spent a great deal of their time leashing up rogue members of the party (Bachmann, Santorum, etc) and trying to moderate their message.  That was a failing strategy and had been so for many years.  Trump’s election was the angry and frustrated reaction to years of dealing with feckless and weak leaders who would bow to the demands of the angry left mob, every chance they got.

I believe Trump has led an evolution of the party, and a good one at that.  I believe he pulled the entire party, ideologically to the right.  I think he empowered other leaders, who had previously been kenneled by Boehner et al., to be able to speak their minds and act in a manner that they were previously told was unbecoming of a Republican.  The likes of Ted Cruz and others had always been willing to step up, but now their message was stronger and carried more force than it had previously.  Instead of being pulled back by leadership, they struggled to keep up.

But that was also a weakness, as the message was coarse and unrefined.  Trump’s fifth-grade language approach to politics was needed at the time, however, as with any material, the value usually comes in refining it.  Trump’s message was gold nuggets, or rough diamonds, often containing value but it was lost on many as it didn’t meet their standard of understanding.  That doesn’t mean it was wrong.  It was that many people felt that 5-word mottos and catchphrases were not enough to win them over.  It didn’t change that the basis didn’t carry a value, it’s that people don’t walk around with rough stones and gold nuggets to adorn them.

Our way forward isn’t through weeding Trump out of the party, but refining the messages and lessons which we have learned from his time as President.  America First isn’t a wrong principle, in fact, many people would agree with it.  It is in refining the message of why that’s important beyond, well, “American is the best,” that the value comes from it.  As we melt the precious metals and cut the stones of our message, we can begin the create the winning strategies of 2022, 2024, and beyond.  Let’s use the force and vigor in which Trump invigorated the party, with the refinement of building a broader coalition to take us into the future. I believe Trump’s time in office has been some of the most beneficial for us as a party and our country as a whole.  There is a ton to learn from, much to carry forward, and a lot we can do to push the narrative through those means.

Will it be easy?  No.  Will it require compromise? Yes.  But instead of entering negotiations with the left from the center, we can now confidently stand on our principles from the right and demand concessions or threaten stalemate.   The way we should approach the left shouldn’t be in what we know we can’t work with each other on, but what we can.  Democrats have hard-working American constituents just like you and me and offering a path forward, that demands respect as opposed to a tail-tucked cowering, is the way.

Let’s take the value in what Trump has shown us can be effective, refine it, and empower our leaders to lead from a place that encourages and excites, instead of retreating to another ideological hiding space. This is a message of hope and optimism.  One which we can be proud of, in showing gratitude to Trump for the change he has brought to our party.

Together, let us work to win back the House and Senate.  Let’s refine our message and let’s bring America home.