The squeaky wheel always gets oil. Which is why it’s so important that conservatives raise hell with the president when he is betraying a key promise. As the Trump direction change on the Paris climate agreement – against the wishes of his “shallow state” advisers – demonstrates, when conservatives speak out, Trump feels the heat from the Right and often changes course. On the other hand, when we remain silent in the face of a betrayal, Trump will have no incentive to withstand internal pressure or even understand the need to change course.
Yesterday, for the first time in weeks, it actually felt good to be on “the red team.” We have a Republican president who is keeping a key promise of fighting the odious agenda of the climate fascists and articulated our policy views effectively. For once, we can fight the media on issues of substance and over our beliefs rather than over nonsensical scandals. More, please!
Some conservatives will mistakenly learn from this week that because Trump is apparently keeping one promise, we should lay off him on other issues. That we should play the binary game and be happy that at least on one significant issue, our voices were heard. “Don’t get greedy, at least he’s better than Hillary,” goes the mindless bromide of the binary game. The opposite is true. What this week demonstrated is that when conservatives make their voices heard and demand that Trump ignore his liberal policy advisers, he is amenable to keeping his campaign promises. Now it’s time to use this momentum to demand some more policy and personnel changes so that this administration can return to conservative substance and fight the media on favorable policy territory.
Conservatives must not succumb to the soft bigotry of low expectations. After all, the only direction to go, after the moral nadir of the Obama years, is up. Everything will always be better when compared to the Obama years. But shouldn’t we strive for so much more, especially as it relates to issues the president can change unilaterally, without Congress and, often, simply by inaction?
By denying reality or making excuses for Trump, we are not doing him or ourselves any favors. With a cadre of liberals surrounding him – from Dina Powell, Gary Cohn, and Jared Kushner to H.R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson, and Steven Mnuchin – Trump might not even realize that many of the policy outcomes are divergent from his own rhetoric if conservatives fail to raise their voices.
Just consider how on the same day he showed tremendous leadership regarding the economic harm of the climate treaty, he broke a major pledge to move the Israel embassy to Jerusalem. This is a colossal betrayal because Trump promised in the most emphatic terms to move the embassy as part of a broader shift in policy in the Middle East. What’s worse than the broken promise is the rationale behind it – that he wants to continue the Clinton/Obama policies of pursuing negotiations with the PLO terrorists. He has also gotten sucked into the Saudi vortex, which has pressured him not to move the embassy.
What gives? Why did the president buck his “shallow state” Democrat advisers on the Paris climate agreement but not on the broader foreign policy of his first overseas trip?It’s because prominent conservatives made it clear that to continue with the Paris agreement was unacceptable. After weeks of liberal posturing from Gary Cohn and Rex Tillerson on the climate agreement, conservatives sounded the alarm, and it worked. It also helps that, unlike with other conservative issues, there is big industry on board with his Paris decision. No such pressure has been brought to bear on his Israel betrayal. Very few prominent voices on the Right have even recognized this problem.
It is long past time that we locate our embassy in #Jerusalem and it is deeply disappointing that the President has decided not to do so.— Ron DeSantis (@RepDeSantis) June 1, 2017
While both the White House and congressional Republican leadership are saturated with liberals, the difference between the two is that the president has actually shown he is sensitive to conservative criticism, which is a good thing. Absent such criticism, though, nothing will change.
Conservatives would be wise to take the momentum from the global warming victory and raise Cain over the following:
- Iran deal: This is a great opportunity for Trump to turn his attention to the other major Obama-era treaty: the Iran deal. Rather than re-certifying the deal while the Iranians are blatantly violating it, Trump should submit it to the Senate as a treaty and announce that absent Senate ratification, he will cease any recognition of its terms. Didn’t we all say that it was a treaty and needed Senate ratification in order to hold the force of the law when Obama was president? What changed? Why should we remain silent just because this is a Republican administration?
- Submit Saudi arms deal to Congress: Trump is demonstrating “America first” leadership on the Paris accord. But he must do the same with Saudi Arabia. If there is some magical case to be made for why selling out to the Saudis is putting America first, we need to have a national debate over that. While some of this started with the Obama administration, it’s not too late to slow down this weapons deal.
- Trump’s DACA amnesty: Despite implementing some good enforcement measures on immigration, this administration has embraced Obama’s DACA amnesty. It is actively handing out Social Security cards and work permits to illegal aliens when it could simply terminate this breach of sovereignty by a mere display of inaction – allowing the DACA cards to expire. We all said that this was the most patently unconstitutional act of the Obama administration. How then can we allow it to stand under a Trump administration? We must make it clear that this is another promise not kept, and one which does not pass muster with the Constitution.
- Where’s the wall? The budget agreement was perhaps the biggest betrayal of this presidency so far. Sure, Trump needs Congress to appropriate funds for the wall, but the president never demanded that it be included in the budget bill and ultimately agreed to sign without it. While he has no leverage at this point to unilaterally fund the wall, he must show leadership by threatening to veto any debt ceiling or budget bill this year that does not cut spending on welfare for illegals and use those funds to construct a border wall. It’s not too late for him to demand a supplemental bill doing exactly that.
- Refugees: Although the administration tried to do the right thing on refugees, the courts have declared war on our sovereignty. However, the State Department is now being overly deferential to the courts and is needlessly bringing in up to 1,600 refugees a week. That is unacceptable and not even necessary to comply with the lawless courts. Worse, the Trump’s new aspirational budget approves funding for 50,000 refugees. Trump must terminate that policy immediately and demand that Congress cut off funding for refugees (and use the savings for the border wall).
- No debt ceiling increase without budget cuts: The president unveiled a solid budget for FY 2018. But as we learned from this year’s budget proposal, the blueprint is meaningless if he will cave on the actual leverage point by not vetoing a bad bill. Conservatives should praise this year’s budget blueprint but demand that its principles be actualized in the upcoming debt ceiling fight. Yet Trump’s own treasury secretary is emphatically spewing Democrat talking points to the media about the need to raise the debt limit without cutting spending or reforming a single welfare program. That must end immediately, and the entire administration needs to get on the same page.
- No expanding low-skilled visas: DHS Secretary John Kelly is considering doubling the number of H2-B visas per year. This would be a violation of a major campaign pledge to stop the flow of low-skilled immigrants and guest workers. It’s not too late to change course … if conservatives demand it.
We must never forget that in Washington, the inertia and gravitational pull for a president are only in one direction, and it’s not in our favor. That is doubly true in this era, when Democrats are at the highest levels of a GOP administration and congressional Republicans are more impotent and indifferent than ever before. President Trump has shown a willingness to listen to conservatives, but we will never get what we want if we don’t even ask for it.
Conservatives must remember that they do their allies within the administration no favors by remaining silent and treating the administration with kid gloves. Stop the excuses, denials, and defensive posturing whenever some of us point out the betrayals or liberal policies emanating from this administration. They can’t be rectified if we don’t speak out, and nobody will speak out if these observations are not brought to light. When conservatives apply external pressure, our allies within the administration will be empowered to take our concerns directly to the president and override the New York Democrat faction of the West Wing.
Obama and Reagan welcomed such criticism from their respective bases because it allowed them to play the pseudo-moderate game, as if they were moving to the center while still shifting the policy outcomes to their base supporters. Obama effectively played this game on immigration when he noted how his base was demanding “blanket amnesty” and how he was going to take a middle-of-the-road approach. We must do the same with Trump from the right.
And who knows? Perhaps, if conservatives stopped being bashful, maybe the president would be incentivized to change direction not just on policy, but on personnel as well. That would represent true climate change.