Don­ald Trump, true con­ser­va­tive

National Post (Latest Edition) - - FP COMMENT - Lawrence Solomon Lawrence Solomon the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of En­ergy Probe.

One year af­ter Don­ald Trump was elected presi dent of t he United States, es­tab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans as well as es­tab­lish­ment Democrats re­main at a loss to ex­plain why. To those on the left, Trump is a trav­esty — a white su­prem­a­cist and sex­ist Ne­an­derthal who must be im­peached. To those on the right, es­pe­cially the Never Trumpers, Trump is no less an aber­ra­tion — a lib­eral mas­querad­ing as a con­ser­va­tive, a fraud will­ing to say or do any­thing who some­how won last Novem­ber and who de­serves to be re­moved to­day.

But the Trump de­trac­tors of the left and right need only re­move their blin­ders to un­der­stand what hit them. The vot­ers that put him in of­fice — the “deplorables” un­blinded by an­i­mus to­ward the Trump per­sona — cor­rectly sized up Trump last year. Trump is a true con­ser­va­tive, the gen­uine ar­ti­cle.

Trump doesn’t talk like a con­ser­va­tive — he doesn’t talk like any­one in the rar­efied cir­cles of pol­icy wonkdom and of­fi­cial­dom. But his in­stincts are as con­ser­va­tive as they come, and no Repub­li­can — not even Ron­ald Rea­gan — can claim a more con­ser­va­tive record in of­fice.

In go­ing af­ter big gov­ern­ment, Trump is pur­su­ing un­heard of cuts in the size of the civil ser­vice. He has al­ready made un­prece­dented cuts in the reg­u­la­tory field — re­mov­ing 16 reg­u­la­tions for each one added — and plans to elim­i­nate 80 per cent of fed­eral reg­u­la­tions while short­en­ing the ap­proval process for projects from the cur­rent 10-20 years to two. To date he has re­moved the red tape pre­vent­ing pipe­line projects from pro­ceed­ing, LNG projects from pro­ceed­ing and en­ergy from be­ing de­vel­oped on fed­eral lands. Apart from lib­er­at­ing these eco­nom­i­cally vi­able projects from gov­ern­ment en­snare­ment, he is lib­er­at­ing the econ­omy from sub­si­diz­ing nu­mer­ous projects that are un­vi­able on their own, among them renewables and elec­tric ve­hi­cles. Stand­ing apart from all other lead­ers in the world, Trump has re­pu­di­ated the Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment and is de­fund­ing the United Na­tions’ In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change.

In the eco­nomic sphere, Trump is push­ing for the largest tax cut in his­tory, one that would pro­vide re­lief for cor­po­ra­tions as well as in­di­vid­u­als. He would fund these cuts in good part by re­mov­ing tax breaks that over­whelm­ingly ben­e­fit the rich. These in­clude the cur­rent abil­ity of the af­flu­ent to deduct in­ter­est on mil­lion­dol­lar mort­gages for their homes, along with de­duct­ing their state and lo­cal taxes from their fed­eral tax bill. In ef­fect, the af­flu­ent in the U.S. pay lit­tle or no state and lo­cal tax, cour­tesy of less af­flu­ent fed­eral tax­pay­ers who mostly have been un­able to cap­i­tal­ize on these made-forthe-rich fea­tures of the in­sider-ben­e­fit­ing U.S. tax code.

In trade, Trump is pur­su­ing free trade, just not through the mul­ti­lat­eral agree­ments that have worked to hob­ble U.S. ex­porters. The bi­lat­eral deals he wants with Canada and Ja­pan, for ex­am­ple, would see these coun­tries’ pro­tected agri­cul­tural mar­kets opened up to U. S. ex­ports.

True con­ser­va­tives have a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing tough in for­eign pol­icy. Trump in his few months in of­fice has al­ready elim­i­nated the ISIL caliphate and is tougher on North Korea and Iran than pre­de­ces­sors Bill Clin­ton, Ge­orge Bush and Barack Obama, whose ap­pease­ment en­cour­aged North Korea to be­come a nu­clear weapons state. Trump is also likely to be tougher than Rea­gan, who re­sponded to Hezbol­lah’s killing of 241 U. S. marines and ser­vice per­son­nel in Beirut in 1983 by turn­ing tail. Putin, who ob­tained con­trol over part of Ukraine and all of Crimea dur­ing the Obama years, has taken no ter­ri­to­rial lib­er­ties since Trump as­sumed the pres­i­dency.

Per­haps the big­gest sur­prise in Trump’s poli­cies and per­son­al­ity has been his claimed op­po­si­tion to abor­tion, a con­ser­va­tive t ouch stone which evan- gel­i­cals — al­most alone — rightly grasped as gen­uine. “Pres­i­dent Trump has been the most pro- life pres­i­dent in mod­ern his­tory, slash­ing the Mex­ico City Pol­icy shortly af­ter tak­ing of­fice, which sent mil­lions of tax­payer dol­lars over­seas to pay for abor­tions,” states Penny Nance, CEO and Pres­i­dent of Con­cerned Women for Amer­ica, echo­ing a com­mon view in the pro-life com­mu­nity. Trump gets credit with it for ap­point­ing Judge Neil Gor­such to the United States Supreme Court, ap­point­ing con­sis­tently pro- life judges to lower courts, and stack­ing “the Depart­ment of Health & Hu­man Ser­vices with pro­life war­riors who are al­ready mak­ing pos­i­tive dif­fer­ences for the pro­tec­tion of the un­born.”

Trump’s cab­i­net, in fact, is unusu­ally, archly con­ser­va­tive, says Bill Ben­nett, who served as ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary un­der Rea­gan. In health, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­motes health care al­lowances, in ed­u­ca­tion, school choice. Don­ald Trump’s cab­i­net is a “more con­ser­va­tive cab­i­net” than Rea­gan’s cab­i­net was, Ben­nett told a con­ser­va­tive con­fer­ence last month.

Trump is the pres­i­dent of the United States be­cause the United States cit­i­zenry is, fun­da­men­tally, con­ser­va­tive. Ac­cord­ing to Gallup, con­ser­va­tives out­num­ber lib­er­als in 44 of the 50 states. Since Rea­gan, Democrats have won most pres­i­den­cies in part be­cause their Repub­li­can chal­lengers have pre­sented them­selves as some­what mod­er­ate, in part be­cause their Demo­cratic op­po­nents have pre­sented them­selves as some­what con­ser­va­tive. Trump presents as some­one un­am­bigu­ously con­ser­va­tive, but only to those who don’t be­lieve ev­ery­thing they read in the main­stream press, and who don’t suf­fer from Trump Derange­ment Syn­drome.

Trump’s per­son­al­ity rubs most peo­ple the wrong way, lead­ing many to re­ject him out of hand. But for those able to look past his per­sona — his tweets, his vul­gar­ity, his crass­ness, what­ever — and to judge him on his sub­stance, Trump presents as ex­traor­di­nar­ily fit to be pres­i­dent, as a standup guy, a true con­ser­va­tive able to take on the cor­rup­tion of the elites and the ob­scen­ity of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness.

DON­ALD TRUMP’S CAB­I­NET IS A ‘MORE CON­SER­VA­TIVE CAB­I­NET’ THAN REA­GAN’S CAB­I­NET WAS.

WIN MC­NAMEE / GETTY IM­AGES FILES

U. S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s in­stincts are as con­ser­va­tive as they come, Lawrence Solomon writes.

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