Trump has already done what Reagan couldn't.
Common wisdom: President Trump has plunged the White House into ethical and moral chaos (the forced resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn after intelligence bureaucrats leaked evidence of alleged phone conversations with Russian officials). Or Trump is constitutionally incompetent and a racist, Christianist tyrant besides (the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’s squelching of his executive order declaring a visa moratorium for citizens of seven Muslim-majority, terrorism-riddled countries). Or Trump is just plain “delusional,” to borrow a word from New York magazine columnist Andrew Sullivan, who seems to think that Trump needs some tender loving care from Nurse Ratched.
If so, Trump is delusional all the way to the bank. His first month in office has been, let’s face it, a smashing success. He has already taken steps via executive order to fulfill at least a dozen of his campaign promises:
- Order a wall along the Mexican border and actually start enforcing existing laws against illegal immigration? Check.
- Revoke federal funding for so-called sanctuary cities that offer illegal immigrants charged with crimes refuge from deportation? Check.
- Squelch for good the job-killing, secretly negotiated Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership? Check.
- Ask the State Department and the Army Corps of Engineers for quick approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines that reduce dependency on foreign oil? Check and check.
- Freeze the metastasizing tumor of the federal bureaucracy and its death-dealing regulatory tendrils? Check, check and check.
And that’s without even counting the fact that Trump has won Senate confirmation for all his Cabinet appointments who've had hearings, despite savage opposition from Democrats. (He has withdrawn the nomination of exactly one candidate, Labor secretary nominee Andrew Puzder, whose unlimited-immigration advocacy didn’t fit well with Trump’s stated policies.) Or that his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, is exactly the sort of Antonin Scalia-like jurist he promised on the campaign trail.
Furthermore, polls have found that even if Trump himself flunks popularity polls, his measures are immensely popular with voters. A Morning Consult/Politico survey conducted during the first week of February found that the Trump executive orders deemed most controversial by commentators and the news media actually enjoy the approval of either majorities or clear pluralities of Americans registered to vote. Ending federal support for sanctuary cities tops the list: 55% of those surveyed endorse the idea, and only 33% oppose it. The border wall wins by 48% to 42%, the deep-sixing of the Pacific trade deal by 47% to 33%.
On his first Monday in office, Trump signed an order reinstating President Reagan’s “Mexico City policy”: no more U.S. aid to international health organizations that perform or promote abortions. That was a 47% to 42% popularity victory for Trump. Even more popular was his order giving federal agencies broad power to relax and even eliminate an array of Obamacare taxes and regulations. Some 49% of those surveyed in the Politico poll approve of the order, in contrast to 41% who disapprove.
As for that order halting travel from the seven Muslim-majority countries, Trump may have lost — so far — in federal court, but he is not losing in the court of public opinion. The Politico poll found that 55% of registered voters support the travel ban, while only 38% disapprove. (A Jan. 31 Reuters poll yielded a somewhat smaller margin of victory for Trump, with 49% approving the ban and 41% disapproving, while a CNN poll released Feb. 3 yielded 53% disapproval of the ban, contrasted to 47% approval.)
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It can be argued that most of those sweeping executive orders are more smoke than fire, grand-sounding in concept (Build a wall! Drain the regulatory swamp!) but as yet inchoate and perhaps likely to remain so as Trump crashes into the realities of budget constraints, the Washington political labyrinth, an economic system over which he may have little control, and the ideological vagaries of federal judges. But that’s not the point.
The point is that Trump has managed to do something that no U.S. president, even Reagan, has been able to do in recent decades: bring to a screeching halt, if only temporarily, the reign of a globalist, virtue-signaling elite that has gained control of every social and cultural institution, the political establishment (including many Republicans), the news media, the universities, the entertainment industry, even corporations — and then steamrollered his agenda over ordinary Americans whether they liked it or not.
Until just yesterday, or rather, until Inauguration Day, Americans just had to live with the fact that immigration laws would be routinely flouted, that floods of self-proclaimed “refugees” would transform their country into another jihadi-infested Germany, that trade pacts benefiting Wall Street and Silicon Valley but not U.S. workers would be shoved down their throats, that their daughters would be forced to share school restrooms with biological males (Trump’s Justice Department has already killed that particular Obama administration policy), that they'd be one Supreme Court justice away from having their guns confiscated, and that they'd be endlessly derided as haters or homophobes or deplorables or pitiable misfits, who couldn’t keep up with economic and social changes, if they declined to go along with what their betters demanded.
Trump has stood in front of the steamroller and begun to roll it back. He might not be able to push it very far in the long run, but the loud and uncompromising “resistance” from all of America’s elites indicates that he has made a good start.
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