by Jeffery Rendall
These days there’s little doubt the prevailing wisdom of most establishment media pundits and so-called political “experts” is that President Donald Trump is a liability to Republican candidates heading into this November’s all-too-crucial midterm elections.
According to the Reverso Dictionary, the word “prevailing” means, one, common, current, customary, established, fashionable, general, in style, in vogue, ordinary, popular, prevalent, set, usual, widespread; or, two, dominant, influential, main, operative, predominating, preponderating, principal, ruling.
Since America’s ruling class elites all share a desire to preserve the status quo in Washington, the last suggested definition – “ruling” – is the most apropos for conservatives. Change is what the establishment fears most and that’s exactly what they’d get if the leadership on Capitol Hill were shaken up by this year’s district-by-district results.
Signs are everywhere GOP poohbahs especially dread the prospect of losing control of the party’s House leadership. Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan’s announced run for Speaker has everyone in establishment-land in a tizzy. Perhaps because of the elites’ panic political commentators are already poopooing Jordan’s chances for an internal coup d’état.
A.B. Stoddard wrote last week at Real Clear Politics, “There’s a good chance Trump doesn’t appreciate the nuances and dynamics of leadership races and internecine battles. Advisers to the president will likely try and counsel him – even if he has already decided he will ultimately support McCarthy – to avoid overtures to Jordan that complicate McCarthy’s path.
“But Jordan effectively stokes the anti-establishment anger he knows helped make Trump president. He’s crediting Trump’s agenda and his leadership as he bashes the current leadership – and all of it is flattering to Trump. Backing Trump on the shutdown will bring Jordan just the attention he seeks. And he knows just how much Trump is drawn to the drama and the fight.
“To give Republicans their best shot on Nov. 6, the president needs to tamp this thing down now, prevail upon Jordan to stay on the team, and keep Republicans united until voters go to the polls. They should pass a spending bill on time, as is their constitutional duty, that the president signs without any criticism that Democrats would celebrate. Given Trump’s track record, none of this is likely.”
Yes indeed, much to his credit Trump would never agree to let the establishment dictate things. While Stoddard and the preponderance of the chattering class believes it’s a done deal that one, Rep. Kevin McCarthy will automatically be elevated to succeed outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan as GOP House leader and two, Jordan’s candidacy is poorly disguised stunt to give conservatives a bigger say in the matter, the outcome – and Trump’s role in it – is far from pre-determined.
As longtime Washington insiders, the powerful swamp creatures believe the status quo will never be altered. Therefore, to them, it’s a given the “next in line” (McCarthy) will conquer in the end and conservatives will do what they’ve always done when faced with this challenge – capitulate. Only Donald Trump is now the president and Jim Jordan, as one of the original founders of the amazingly effective Freedom Caucus, is actually running for the top job.
Good reputable conservatives have vied for leadership positions before but none were considered serious threats to the establishment GOP leadership like Jordan is now. He certainly has the votes to make it extremely difficult (if not impossible) for any in the ruling class hierarchy to win without his blessing. With that being said, Stoddard is probably correct – Jordan doesn’t currently have the necessary support to supplant McCarthy in the House caucus.
This could change with a well-timed Trump endorsement and the right conditions emerge from November’s elections. Meanwhile, Trump could shift his campaign focus (for Republican candidates) to emphasize how he needs new leadership to push through his agenda starting next year. Want a border wall? Give him Jim Jordan. Want to finally ditch Obamacare? Give him Jim Jordan. Hope to finally get tough on Obama’s residual deep staters in the intelligence agencies and Justice Department?
Then give him Jim Jordan. It’s simple, to the point and most of all, true.
Unlike the current wishy-washy House GOP leadership Jordan makes no qualms about accepting his role as overseer of the executive branch. Jordan doesn’t equivocate about who works for whom – arrogant jerks like the recently fired Peter Strzok and longtime canned James Comey don’t receive a free pass when the Ohio Congressman is behind the committee room’s microphone. You can almost grasp how effective Jordan is by the sheer number of objections Democrat committeemen raise seeking to defend the liberal bureaucrats.
Jordan was the driving force behind last month’s filing of impeachment articles against de facto Justice Department head Rod Rosenstein, and although the current leadership likely won’t allow an actual vote on the resolution, the subject has been raised and people put on notice that the former championship wrestler is a man of his word not to be trifled with.
Jordan is precisely the type of leader Republicans need in Congress, someone who not only relishes taking on the leftist Democrats, he also sets clear distinctions with the opposition party on policy. Therefore, fellow Republicans will actually have something credible to run on as opposed to time and again promising the conservative agenda will receive a hearing if the GOP is in the majority.
Tax cuts are terrific and the economy is humming along nicely due to Trump’s regulation-slashing regime, but these things are not enough to inspire people to maintain things the way they are. Elections are always about the future, too – what was done last year ain’t gonna count much in Americans’ minds. Shouldn’t Republicans be offering voters a glimpse of what they’re going to do as opposed to resting on what they’ve already done?
With Jordan the philosophy is put up or shut up – something that scares the bejesus out of the establishment. The notion that politically sensitive issues will be moved to the forefront under Jordan’s leadership is incredibly appealing to the grassroots – and what better way to motivate the fence sitters than to promise real change in Congress if Jim Jordan is the certain leader after November?
President Trump surely realizes this. The exceptionally politically astute president knows he must keep his friends (conservatives) close but his enemies (the establishment) closer. Here’s thinking Trump’s fall campaign push for party candidates will include calls for a change at the top of his congressional leadership. It’s desperately needed.
The party itself needs to change too, but not in the way #NeverTrumpers want it. The last vestiges of so-called “conservative” opposition to Trump cling to criticizing his behavior. They’re flat out wrong to think the GOP needs to be destroyed for it to rise again.
Jay Cost touched on the subject at National Review, “I … think the hyperbole of the remaining Never-Trumpers is making it harder to fix what is wrong with the GOP. Such intemperate positions draw all the focus and alienate potential reformers who are more amenable to Trump. This makes it more difficult for those of us still actively inside the conservative coalition to bring about change, which for now can only come through encouragement and exhortation rather than extreme calls for razing the Republican party.
“In general, the remaining Never Trumpers seem to have made the exact opposite error that the hardcore backers of Trump have made. While the MAGA crowd rejects the virtues of political aesthetics and manners altogether, the Never Trumpers have elevated them into a kind of political summum bonum. But it is not. Policy still matters, too. Or at least it should.”
(As a side note I didn’t realize Cost himself is a reformed #NeverTrumper, having admittedly voted for the naysayers’ doofus “alternative” candidate – Evan McMullin – in 2016.)
Policy is what we vote for every Election Day, isn’t it? While a candidate’s personality, character and past history are definitely important considerations (see Clinton, Bill), it’s what they say in their campaign speeches that really counts. Using Trump as an example, he roused a sleepy GOP electorate by speaking truth to power from the get-go. His language was poignant and clear – the nation was on the wrong track and needed to be made “great” again.
Did we ever hear Mitt Romney or John McCain address these issues head-on? Hardly; they (and other establishmentarians) took the middle road and got steamrolled by an opponent who promised “Hope and Change” and tackled things directly without apology. Politics isn’t for the meek but if you listen to the Republican establishment long enough you might think it was.
Cost is right – Trump’s policy successes must be acknowledged and himself recognized as able to move the needle. It’s possible to not like the man but still favor his presidency. In contrast America’s had plenty of “nice guy” presidents who weren’t effective leaders. Isn’t Jimmy Carter someone you’d feel happy to invite into your home and break bread with? Carter is so polite he’d probably even be asked to stay for the weekend. But his presidency stunk.
The same holds for today’s Republican congressional leadership. Paul Ryan wouldn’t be caught dead interrogating the likes of Peter Strzok the way Jordan did – Ryan would much prefer hiding behind his podium and appearing to be as milquetoast as possible. Why do you think “Uncle Joe” Biden walked all over him in the 2012 Vice Presidential candidates’ debate?
If it’d been Jim Jordan battling Biden he would’ve gotten down on the mat and wrestled the lying Democrat gasbag to the last breath. People appreciate a fighter. Trump voters like the fact the president hasn’t changed since he moved to the White House. If instead Trump had suddenly morphed into the second coming of George Pataki people would’ve been turned off (and ticked off too).
Now Trump voters are satisfied and free from regret. It’s been proven, too. Daniel Allott wrote at National Review, “Indeed, one thing that struck me in speaking with Trump voters was their eagerness to defend policies that Washington pundits have been predicting would cause his voters to abandon him. For instance, I found little outrage at the administration’s policy of separating families at the southern border. Most Trump supporters here said some variation of ‘nobody wants to see children separated from their mothers’ before launching into a full defense of a policy that has sent Trump’s opponents into fits of rage…
“It’s easy to write off their fervent support for Trump as tribalism. But these voters are giving Trump the benefit of the doubt because they believe he has their backs. Perhaps as a token of that bond of trust, Trump announced in late July that he is seeking to secure $12 billion in aid for farmers hindered by retaliatory tariffs.
“Reports predicting a Midwestern backlash to Trump’s policies remind me of what happened throughout the 2016 campaign, when every Trump misstep or perceived scandal was predicted to trigger a fatal backlash to his candidacy. That backlash never happened, and this one may not either.”
Allott’s encounters in Howard County, Iowa, mirror my own experience. All the Trump “resistance” stems from people who never liked him to begin with – including the few #NeverTrumpers I personally know. People who voted for the president are more than happy with his performance, though they’re still hesitant to speak about it in a public setting.
It seems many are afraid to counter the “prevailing wisdom” they hear and read about from establishment news sources. To do so could mean social censure and even worse, to appear unenlightened or “backwards” as a Trump devotee. The politically correct thought police are never far away and folks are mindful of their community reputations.
But firm Trump support is there just below the surface. It might be broader than you think, too. Christian Toto reported at PJ Media, “Jimmy Kimmel, the former funny man who now cares more about #TheResistance than laughs, spoke two uncomfortable truths in one week.
“First, the ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ host addressed the imbroglio over Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Not once but twice vandals damaged the star, one of The Resistance’s signature triumphs. The West Hollywood City Council subsequently voted to remove the star, only the august body lacks the authority to make that happen. The vote still generated headlines. Enter Kimmel, who shockingly didn’t leap to the council’s defense.
“’This is none of their business,’ Kimmel said. He wasn’t done…”
Kimmel pointed out how hypocritical it is for the elites to want to remove Trump’s star while allowing disgraced actor pervert Kevin Spacey’s star (right next to Trump’s) to remain unmolested (pardon the reference). Kimmel also took issue with a ridiculous recent Rosie O’Donnell statement about Trump paying his supporters to like him. Kimmel is still a Trump-hater, but at least he’s willing to bow to the truth occasionally.
Purveyors of the “prevailing wisdom” will never accept that Washington must change and new leaders are desperately needed to foster it. Installing Jim Jordan as Speaker would be a good place to start, but even then the battle over the DC capital’s culture would just be commencing.