Big­gest threat to Trump’s agenda is from Repub­li­cans

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

But these types of sto­ries di­vide not just the ad­min­is­tra­tion but the Repub­li­can Party as a whole. Any­one who has worked in pol­i­tics would know that it is nor­mal for a vice pres­i­dent to be meet­ing with party donors, es­pe­cially a man like Mr. Pence who has close con­nec­tions to tra­di­tional GOP donors. The ar­ti­cle clearly mis­char­ac­ter­ized what Mr. Pence’s role and re­cent ac­tiv­i­ties.

But the ru­mors re­veal an un­der­ly­ing and un­re­solved prob­lem for to­day’s GOP. Long af­ter the election, some Repub­li­cans still refuse to ac­cept that Mr. Trump’s win has fun­da­men­tally re­de­fined the party. They are act­ing more like Democrats in re­fus­ing to help the pres­i­dent en­act his agenda. I un­der­stand that there could be dis­agree­ments on is­sues such as trade, where many in the party has long fa­vored open mar­kets, but the bulk of the pres­i­dent’s agenda is rooted in solid, tra­di­tional Repub­li­can prin­ci­ples.

On is­sues such as eco­nomic dereg­u­la­tion, con­sumer-ori­ented health care, tax re­form and school choice, you would think that these crit­i­cal Repub­li­cans would have no trou­ble lin­ing up be­hind the White House. In­stead, these #Nev­erTrump Repub­li­cans — in line with the Democrats — con­tinue to un­der­mine the pres­i­dent.

This ob­struc­tion­ist stance does noth­ing to ad­vance con­ser­va­tive prin­ci­ples. It’s the les­son I teach my daugh­ters: Don’t stand there and crit­i­cize — roll up your sleeves and work to make things bet­ter. The Never Trumpers in­stead fo­cus their en­er­gies on re­cruit­ing a 2020 uni­corn can­di­date to oust the pres­i­dent. Take Bill Kris­tol, who mocked the pres­i­dent in a tweet: “Work­ing at the beach. This is not a va­ca­tion — tweets and calls! (#Nev­erTrump never sleeps.).”

The con­ser­va­tive re­sis­tance to Mr. Trump, in its fo­cus on a 2020 come­back, is jeop­ar­diz­ing Repub­li­can prospects in the 2018 midterm elec­tions. They might even se­cretly be hop­ing that Repub­li­cans lose the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives so im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings can be­gin. Like the Democrats, the Never Trumpers are have never ac­cepted the 2016 election re­sults and fer­vently dream of over­turn­ing the vot­ers’ ver­dict through im­peach­ment.

Re­cently I de­bated a mem­ber of the Never Trump camp who worked in Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion. While she was highly crit­i­cal of the Democrats, she was even more crit­i­cal of Mr. Trump. She de­spised the pres­i­dent per­son­ally and would not ac­knowl­edge the ac­com­plish­ments of this ad­min­is­tra­tion on is­sues rang­ing from ju­di­cial ap­point­ments to dereg­u­la­tion.

A di­vided party means losses in 2018 and in 2020. Though the RNC has been quite suc­cess­ful in fundrais­ing this year, rais­ing al­most twice as much as the DNC, the di­vi­sions within the party and lack of leg­isla­tive vic­to­ries put many seats in the House in jeop­ardy. Repub­li­cans must re­tain their ma­jor­ity in 2018 if they want to con­tinue ad­vanc­ing Pres­i­dent Trump’s agenda, and money alone will not pro­duce elec­toral wins in the midterms.

His­tory has shown that chal­leng­ing an in­cum­bent pres­i­dent in the pri­mary al­most in­evitably leads to de­feat in the gen­eral election. In 1976, Ger­ald Ford lost to Jimmy Carter af­ter Ron­ald Rea­gan chal­lenged him in a bruis­ing pri­mary. Pat Buchanan’s chal­lenge to Ge­orge H.W. Bush in 1992 helped elect Demo­crat Jimmy Carter.

A top goal for any func­tion­ing po­lit­i­cal party is to work with its fac­tions to avoid a dam­ag­ing pri­mary. Any­one fa­mil­iar with re­cent pres­i­den­tial his­tory knows that di­vi­sive pri­maries cost you the gen­eral election. If the Repub­li­can Party makes the same mis­take again, we could see a Pres­i­dent Bernard San­ders or an­other Demo­cratic face in the White House in 2020.

Some in the GOP might never ac­cept the pres­i­dent on a per­sonal level, but it’s hard to ar­gue against what Mr. Trump and his ad­min­is­tra­tion have been try­ing to achieve in his first 200 days. Mercedes Sch­lapp is a Fox News con­trib­u­tor, co-founder of Cove Strate­gies and for­mer White House direc­tor of spe­cialty me­dia un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.