Alexander's Column

The Trump Administration — A Reagan Revival!

Trump's nominees rival the conservative pedigrees of those chosen by Ronald Reagan some 35 years ago.

Mark Alexander · Dec. 14, 2016

“Your love of liberty — your respect for the laws — your habits of industry — and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual happiness.” —George Washington (1789)

There have been two amazing political surprises since Tuesday, November 8th.

The first, of course, was that Donald Trump defeated Barack Obama’s error apparent, Hillary Clinton. Despite how the mainstream media frames that victory, it was not Trump who carried down-ballot candidates but grassroots Americans who handed an up-ballot victory to Trump. The MSM are still trying to figure out who those elusive “grassroots” voters are and from what planet they came.

Nobody was more surprised by the Trump victory than Donald Trump himself, except for Clinton and her legions of lamenting leftist lemmings, who went scurrying for their cupcake safe spaces. One only hopes that they all stay put with their Play-Doh, coloring books and hot cocoa for years to come!

When I endorsed Donald Trump for president, I wrote to my conservative colleagues, particularly Christians struggling with Trump’s considerable moral indiscretions, “Those who choose to sit this election out or ‘choose neither’ are making a choice — to undermine the best prospect to advance Liberty. … If you’re reluctant to vote for Trump, at least cast your vote for the Supreme Court.”

Fortunately, by a popular state-by-state margin sufficient to provide Trump a substantial Electoral College victory, our Constitution has been rescued from the incessant Obama assault of the last eight years — guaranteed to have gotten worse for at least the next four years had Clinton been victorious.

However, given the popular vote totals, my more liberal (and therefore more “enlightened”) colleagues continually ask me, with predictably arrogant and disapproving airs, “Well, who won the popular vote?” My standard reply leaves them looking like a deer in the headlights: “The Supreme Court and our Rule of Law won!”

Indeed, this promises to be a new dawn for Liberty.

But the second post-election surprise has been almost as astounding as the first.

Since his stunning victory, Trump has NOT forgotten who brung him to the dance — those working class grassroots conservatives across the nation. Having named one of the nation’s most steadfast and articulate conservatives, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, to head his transition team, the nominees who’ve come out of Trump Tower rival the conservative pedigrees of those chosen by Ronald Reagan some 35 years ago. Trump’s simple mantra, “Make America Great Again,” was borrowed from President Reagan’s slogan, “Let’s make America great again.” And he is on his way to doing just that.

Trump signaled his intention to break the conventional swamp mold with his initial appointments of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as his chief of staff and media executive Steve Bannon as chief strategist. Bannon is the quintessential outsider, and he’ll be charged with holding Trump’s populist coalition together. Conversely, Priebus is the quintessential insider, and he’ll team with Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to steward Trump’s legislative agenda through Congress.

And the lineup thus far of those who’ll help Trump launch his First 100 Days agenda is impressive. Combined with the enormous House Republican majority and a workable Senate Republican majority, the prospects for the success of Trump’s agenda are indeed promising.

Clearly, Trump is, as his first order of business, going to begin the long process of restoring our nation’s security after eight years of, at best, neglect.

To do that, he selected an outstanding team, including Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (USA, Ret.) as his national security advisor, Gen. James Mattis (USMC, Ret.) as secretary of defense, Gen. John Kelly (USMC, Ret.) to head Homeland Security and restore border security, and Rep. Mike Pompeo to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

And the lineup of Trump’s domestic leadership is equally impressive.

First up would be his nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, a committed Rule of Law AG.

Second would be those who will begin to undo the plethora of Obama-era regulations that have been choking the American economy.

Trump nominated Rep. Tom Price (who also happens to be an orthopedic surgeon) for Health and Human Services, a role in which he’ll dismantle Obama’s signature piece of legislation, the so-called “Affordable Care Act.”

Reining in the EPA’s immense regulatory bypass of Congress will be Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, with an assist from Interior Secretary nominee Rep. Ryan Zinke (himself a former Navy SEAL), and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Department of Energy.

Trump’s promise to make America competitive again is reflected in his choice of Steven Mnuchin at Treasury, business turnaround expert Wilbur Ross at Commerce and Andrew Puzder to head the Department of Labor. They will have assists from Elaine L. Chao, wife of Mitch McConnell, at Transportation, reformer Betsy DeVos at Education and Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development.

Yet another indication of the caliber of people moving into the Trump administration would be the caliber of people moving out of the Heritage Foundation. Making this mass exodus are many of the most conservative policy experts in the nation as reflected in Heritage’s “Mandate for Leadership.” In fact, I’ve heard that as many as 40% of Heritage’s staff are being absorbed by the Trump administration.

While a well-placed friend of mine, Heritage President Jim DeMint, wasn’t prepared to confirm that figure, his VP, Wesley Denton, told us, “As Morton Blackwell has often pointed out, personnel is policy, and Heritage scholars and specialized staff often move on to play critical roles on Capitol Hill and throughout the policy world. With a new administration that has been recruiting conservative staff, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an increase in turnover at Heritage and other conservative offices.”

Of course, the most anticipated of Trump’s nominations is his pick for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who we predict will pick up the nickname T-Rex before his tenure is up.

But the Tillerson nomination is also the most troubling of the lot because, like Donald Trump himself, there is little Tillerson will do that doesn’t get tagged as having something to do with his worldwide business interests — or, as the MSM will phrase it, “his business cronies.” For the record, I have NO concern about the relationship between Tillerson and Putin — to the contrary, I think that prior professional relationship will prove an asset to our national security and that of our NATO allies.

And on the subject of MSM “business cronies,” there are two factors that I predict will plague Donald Trump in the coming years — the first is, ironically, his business success.

His vast business interests will be the source of incessant accusations from Democrats and their leftmedia projectors that he’s using the White House for personal enrichment. Yes, Trump has announced that he’ll turn over control of his business interests to his sons, but that won’t create enough distance for Democrats and their MSM “public relations” outlets, and most of the public won’t be able to distinguish fake media from fact.

Those charges of self-enrichment will handicap Trump, no matter how unfounded.

The second factor is one that has long plagued Trump and is perhaps the most troubling — his inability to convey a sense of public humility.

In Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee’s eulogy of George Washington, his Continental Army commander and friend wrote, “[F]irst in the hearts of his countrymen, [Washington] was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting…”

Trump should aspire to those character traits, starting with humility.

He is an interesting case study. On a personal level, those we know who are closest to Trump say that he is very personable and fair, that he demonstrates integrity and humility, and that he treats people with dignity and respect.

But his public persona often times is quite the opposite.

Of course, Trump is, by trade, a self-promoter who claims a third of his fortune is in his name alone. Indeed, Trump has amassed his fortune as a promoter, and he has the potential to channel all that promotional expertise into doing as he promised — making America great again.

But he will undermine his objective if he fails to adopt a modicum of public humility. Trump must surround himself with more people with the impeccable character and integrity of Mike Pence, who are genuinely humble leaders.

And, while I know he has staff who vet what he taps into his Twitter account, as I wrote last August about his tendency to derail his momentum with trivial tweets, “For 10 years prior to his candidacy, Trump hosted his successful reality show ‘The Apprentice.’ For all those years, he strictly controlled the script — what did and did not make it to air. It seems that he has yet to figure out that he has NO control over the script of his ‘Make America Great Again’ reality show.” I know he uses Twitter to speak over the heads of the leftmedia, and directly to the American people — which President Reagan managed to do through his press conferences — but Trump has to do more than type out 140 characters to achieve Reagan’s success.

As Salena Zito wrote in the September issue of The Atlantic, “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” However, Trump needs to remember that, despite the fact he loathes the media, they have a loud platform.

Now that Donald Trump has amassed an extraordinary lineup of conservatives, has laid out the most straightforward conservative agenda since Ronald Reagan, and has the muscle in Congress to move it forward, it’s time to stay on message like never before.

Oh, and circling back to the promise that put Trump over the top on November 8th, his first order of business should be to announce the Supreme Court nominee who’ll replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. In fact, selecting Scalia’s replacement is rightly considered by many to be the most important decision Trump will make in his first hundred days.

Some Democrats have promised to filibuster his SCOTUS nominees, and if Trump needs eight Democrat votes to shut that threat down, he may not fulfill his promise of seating a jurist of Scalia’s conservative caliber.

May I suggest that if Trump’s SCOTUS nominees meet with obstruction, Republicans should “go nuclear” and end the filibuster option for SCOTUS nominees, just as Democrats did 96 times for their lower court judicial nominees during the tenure of Dirty Harry Reid (D-NV) as Senate majority leader.

Bottom line, once again: This has the makings of a new dawn for Liberty.

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