Can Conservative Groups Still Have Influence in a Trump Administration?

And this should come as no surprise to anyone who was paying attention.

With a Trump presidency, we can look for the death of the conservative movement in America, or at the very least, conservatives will find themselves marginalized.

A Trump presidency moves the GOP left-of-center, and those conservative groups, such as Heritage Action for America, who once enjoyed a certain amount of lobbying power with House Republicans will find themselves less able to do so. Republican lawmakers will likely balk at the idea of going against the new Commander-in-Chief, or doing anything to slow his populist roll.

The Republican pulled off an impressive victory over Hillary Clinton — one that was fueled by the votes of millions of Americans represented by Congressional Republicans.

That is likely to make GOP members receptive to Trump’s protectionist trade policies and plans for massive infrastructure spending, and less willing to heed calls to oppose such policies from conservative groups.

“The dynamics are certainly different. There will be, and there always is, a sense of partisan loyalty to a president,” said Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action for America.

It is unlikely that Trump supporters will take kindly to any lawmaker who is perceived to be acting against their liege. If Trump’s actions go unchecked and he hurts the economy or fails in any way, lessons from the campaign trail show that he’ll never have to answer for it, but other Republicans will be blamed.

On the other hand, Trump will likely be no more amenable to the idea of party loyalty and truth than he was while campaigning, where he routinely blamed the Republican party for “victimizing” him, so they will very likely feel obligated to give him whatever he wants.

The Club for Growth, Heritage Action, and similar groups were able to influence Republicans in part because they share the conservatism that has defined the GOP at least since President Reagan.

Both the groups and lawmakers also have operated under the assumption that voters would penalize them for abandoning support for smaller government and free markets.

But Trump distanced himself from the Reagan agenda, and perhaps won because of that.

In other words, if conservatives want the conservative movement to survive, they may need to start looking for a new home, because Trumpism is not conservatism.

True, the president-elect supports tax reform and deregulation broadly. But the centerpiece of his populist offering is stiffer trade regulations and more government involvement in the economy through subsidies and tax breaks.

“It’s going to be a less of a Reagan conservative party than we would like at the club,” said Club for Growth president David McIntosh, a Republican former member of Congress who served under presidents of both parties.

A big part of the problem is, with less education on those issues that matter, those devoted Trump supporters who put him in office have no idea what conservatism actually is.

They don’t understand why smaller government and the free market are a good thing. A large portion of Trump voters are neo-liberals who want smaller government to come from increased government input.

Don’t believe it?

Ask them about Trump forcing businesses to stay in the U.S. or face penalties.

They think that’s the way to keep jobs in the nation, but it’s not.

And while conservative groups have, in the past, used a grading system to rate a politician’s conservatism, using that as a form of reference for conservative-leaning voters, it may not yield the same level of control over those politicians now.

Trump and his fans don’t support conservative policies. It’s about the coarseness and incivility a candidate is willing to convey.

To this new age of Trumpism, the lawmaker who picks his nose and wipes it on the back of the seat in front of him, while on camera, will be looked upon more favorably than a politician standing before the chamber and giving an impassioned lecture on tort reform.

They may need to change the way they grade.

Still, there are those conservative mainstays who refuse to be buckled by the faux Republican in the White House, and have every intention of keeping a President Trump to the same standards that they expect of any administration.

In an interview with “Examining Politics,” a weekly podcast from the Washington Examiner, an official that works for the Koch brothers network of political and policy organizations said it would approach the new GOP administration the same way it has the current Democratic White House.

The Koch brothers intend to remain active, as they have always been. They spent into the hundreds of millions on Republican candidates this election cycle. They weren’t as enthusiastic about Trump, however, so it’s no wonder that they will be keeping an eye on him.

James David, who runs communications for the Koch brothers’ group, Freedom Partners, confirms that the Kochs are still very much on the job.

That activity will include opposing Congressional Republicans when they go astray, Davis told “Examining Politics,” and picking a fight with Trump if they take issue with his agenda. For instance: a bloated infrastructure bill.

Davis said that “it certainly gives me pause” that Trump isn’t coming to Washington as a Republican moored in conservative principles, but is taking a wait and see approach to what he does once he is inaugurated.

“We’re not an appendage of the Republican Party, we’re a principled-based organization,” Davis said. “We’re going to hold Republicans accountable. If they put forward big spending plans, we’re going to oppose those…we’re going to mobilize citizens against those plans.”

“Any massive, unfunded, massive liabilities, our country can’t afford it,” Davis said.

And that is what every conservative that still holds to the ideals of conservatism should keep in mind. We are not appendages of the party. Our principles matter.




Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on RedState Video