Trump’s legacy, promises and challenges for the next election season
The last four years of Trump’s presidency have been unlike any we’ve ever seen in our lifetime. Indeed Biden’s inauguration already signifies an unprecedented backlash against an irreversible process. Whereas Trump at his inauguration promised to be the people’s president, Biden is getting sworn in to an empty field and over 20,000 federal troops. 7000 are expected to occupy the capital into March for his dubious impeachment trial.
Love Trump or hate him, you have to agree on one thing: Trump disrupted things. That our institutions would have to upend our lives so dramatically for the past year just to “go back to normal” tells us – that old normal is gone. Our institutions are obsolete and need to be revamped – Trump or no Trump.
On that, I would argue that Trump was an effect rather than a cause. The internet disrupted the way we not only deal with each other, but the way we govern ourselves. The gatekeepers can no longer gatekeep. Old narratives that could be hidden behind a few major newspapers and publishers are now laid bare by citizen journalists and artists. They can reveal the truth on the ground, do independent investigations, and publicize to their own audiences. These audiences have proven remarkably resilient in the face of Silicon Valley censorship.
Trump was able to tap into this cultural shift to make his way to the presidency. While the left dominated all the traditional popular organizations, Trump managed to organize his own. This is why “white supremacy” is the new code word among the left – really, it means anyone who doesn’t fall in with Democrat party patronage. It’s why we hear of mental gymnastics like Latino White Supremacy – really, they mean anybody “redpilled.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters have been left disillusioned with his departure and the results of the election. They should not be. Trump did as much as he could. Ultimately, even the president is just one man in a government machinery that, in his case, had a far different trajectory. We should celebrate what he has done.
But where do we go from here? Once again, California can show us the way. Not in what the Democrats are doing – which is dragging us steadily back into the Stone Age. But in what the CA GOP has been able to do to win back seats. We won those seats not by being Trump cheerleaders, but by focusing on the issues he championed, and winning hearts and minds with those. Here’s just a few of those issues:
Homelessness and Crime – here we can make the greatest gains. Our streets are a mess. Our cities are turning into shantytowns. All because the left uses lawfare to forbid us from enforcing basic laws. Indeed they are getting District Attorneys elected who refuse to enforce any laws. Biden’s own inauguration is marred by a homeless camp fire right by the Capitol building. Something quite on brand for a state that is exporting its politics nationwide.
While homelessness is an issue, it is not an excuse for more pork. Housing projects are touted not so much for their efficacy but for how much money a contractor can get out of the government. We have progressives here literally talking about defunding the police and building apartments with the proceeds – apartments that don’t have basic rules for occupants, like staying off drugs.
Election Integrity – in an ideal world, we’d all have carefully vetted voter rolls and voter ID for in person elections. But we’re playing the Democrats’ game in this state. That means taking advantage of their rules for ballot harvesting and curing. We must also continue to press for transparency in the voter rolls, and taking the state to court over inaccurate voter rolls. We also need to press the issue of in person voting, getting rid of automatic motor voter registration, and clean voter rolls that reflect living citizens and no more. Our issue is not so much outright fraud, as legally dubious but defensible tactics that sully and disenfranchise actual voters.
Ultimately, I go with ex-CAGOP chair Jim Brulte’s wisdom: voter fraud and ballot harvesting is worse than Democrats admit, but not as bad as Republicans claim. Our real issue is convincing voters of the issues, not blaming the election process.
Climate Change – this is where we Republicans shoot ourselves in the foot. Denying the reality of climate change is losing us hearts and minds, when the issue is so much simpler: policy vs. pork. Democrats have spent $100 billion on renewables like solar and wind, that only cover 25% of our energy needs. Going to nuclear could cover all our energy needs at the same cost. They are spending another $100 billion on a “high speed” rail to nowhere, that won’t get us any real emissions cuts. Meanwhile we have abandoned our forests to preventable wildfires, that spit out about as much CO2 than all man-made emissions in the state.
Tech and Innovation – Monopolies are bad for capitalism. It’s that simple. The problem is monopolies also have a ton of resources to crush their competition, both economically and politically. Trump’s promise of a bright new America has a dark shadow if it doesn’t come to pass – an economy choked by monopolies, which does not innovate or advance, but only eats at itself. This isn’t just the private sector. We see our education system, health care, and even scientific research fall further into stagnation and inefficiency. We are currently paying for a public education system which doesn’t even physically exist. Meanwhile, our government bureaucracies are filled with political hacks that weigh political advantage more than scientific reality.
Those are just the issues. Now let’s talk about the GOP itself.
In a defeat, the main political objective is to avoid a rout. Trump’s defeat was stinging, definitely. But the GOP won many seats. Even here in Los Angeles we flipped a few local seats from the progressive left to more centrist candidates. Blaming the GOP for Trump’s defeat, threats to form a new party, threats to recall or primary anyone who’s not a Trump loyalist – these are born of panic and frustration. They are not legitimate tactics and will only slide us farther back.
National level politics are a bear to behold, even to the best of us. It can be frustrating because we don’t really see all the forces involved, as personally invested as we can get in them. I suggest people pull back and focus on more local politics. County Republican parties are generally all volunteers running on a shoestring budget. Los Angeles is no exception. It is here a dedicated volunteer can effect the most change.
There is much to reform. We still have many people both at the state and local level who push shock jock rumors about overpaid consultants and slush funds. Ironically, such rumors are the real problem. I’ve spent a major part of my own political career dispelling them. That the shock jocks and fringe members pass such rumors is one thing. The issue is their rumors percolate into our members of good faith who do good work and make good contributions to the party.
With this in mind, there is much in common between our highest elected officials and our volunteer base. We have similar aspirations for the country. We want to see an America that helps those who help themselves. We want to see law and order, enforceable borders, and laws applied equally and not as an instrument of war against the people.
We must also have a reckoning on where the money goes in the party. But it’s not what you think. The issue isn’t “overpaid consultants”, so much as people foolishly giving millions of dollars to candidates with no shot at winning and no real game plan. We’ve seen this in Los Angeles with several campaigns. Meanwhile, the LAGOP could perform miracles with but a fraction of what any of these candidates received.
This happens at both the small donor and major donor level. This is a big problem, and I look forward to this reckoning at future conventions.
That’s why I keep saying, if you want to donate to the revival of the GOP, donate at the county level. County parties may not have the charisma of individual candidates. But they have game plans to win back seats, that go beyond individual candidates or campaign seasons.
That’s what we need, especially here in Los Angeles, where everyone is so desperate to oust the likes of Maxine Waters, Ted Lieu, or Adam Schiff. But giving money to a candidate just because you hate their opponent isn’t how you win back seats. These Democrats have the loyalty of the population. And loyalties are stubborn things.
To win back these loyalties, we have to show that we are fighting for the issues these constituents care about. We must show how the people they voted for have abandoned them on these issues. It’s a multi-season approach that goes beyond individual candidates. And yes, we have to do all this in an election environment that’s dubious at best. But we’re Republicans. We know life isn’t fair, but we compete anyway, while working to level the playing field.
The good news is we have the 75 million citizens who enthusiastically voted for Trump who are ready to make this change. Whether we reach out to them and onboard them into this long term work we need to do is our challenge over the next season.
Trump’s defeat parallels the Bourbon Restoration after Napoleonic France. While the Monarchy was temporarily and forcefully restored, it would never be the same again.
Likewise with America. Trump’s promise of a new era in American History is something we proudly believe in as Republicans. Indeed, forging our way forward despite seeming overwhelming opposition is the legacy of our party.
His Truth is Marching On.