The failure of the American Health Care Act was a major setback for Paul Ryan’s agenda. It may or may not have been a setback for President Trump’s agenda. That remains to be seen. What it does do is give the President the ammunition he needs to attack the conservative wing of the Republican Party and he’s taking full advantage of it.
His Tweet this morning:
The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2017
I know that there are plenty of Republicans and conservatives out there who are supportive of the President’s attacks on the Freedom Caucus and conservatives in the Senate. They feel betrayed, as his narrative has pushed, by their willingness to derail the Obamacare repeal and replacement efforts. I’m not going to try to convince you to feel otherwise. I only want to point out that at this stage in the administration’s term, it sets a poor precedent to be pushing his agenda so far to the left.
He wants to work with Democrats. That’s great! Reagan worked with Democrats. The difference is that Reagan convinced Democrats that the conservative agenda brought value to them. What Trump is doing by vilifying conservatives and lumping them in with “Dems” as the people to attack in 2018 is dividing the party into “them” versus “us.” As a conservative, it appalls me to see this happening after years of Tea Party efforts to make conservatives the portion of the party that has more control. As a Federalist, it’s actually been a great thing. We’ve had a massive spike in interest since Trump started his leftward lurch.
As someone who will always put country before party, the dismay I feel for what Trump’s shift will do to America supersedes the excitement I feel over getting more attention for the Federalists. We need the President to work hand-in-hand with conservatives, not isolate them as his enemy. They want to move on to tax reform. The notion of a tax plan pushed out through bipartisanship is terrifying because it will certainly be a big-government tax plan wrapped in a handful of cuts to disguise the overreaching nature of it all. It’s the conservative voice in DC that truly wants to release the burden that government puts on its citizens. Without that voice, the results will not be what we want.
We need the President to abandon his push towards bipartisan growth of government and work WITH conservatives to put reverse government expansion. If he’s unwilling to change his current course, I’d expect to see more members of the Freedom Caucus and conservatives across America reaching out to us to give federalism the primacy this nation needs right now.