It’s time that conservative media, organizations, and members of Congress learn a very important lesson: President Trump is very sensitive to what the conservative movement thinks about his administration and policies. It’s time to focus on what’s important and actually use that leverage.
Last month, I criticized the Mattis Defense Department for continuing many of the social engineering policies of the Obama administration that were foisted upon the military. But then, thanks to Rep. Vicki Hartzler, R-Mo., there was a vote in the House to end the absurd practice of paying for “sex change” operations and hormone therapy during a time of war. Although Republican leadership ensured that the amendment had no chance of passing, the outrage spurred conservative groups into action and raised awareness on conservative media channels, and today, President Trump promised to completely end Obama’s transgender agenda in the military.
That’s change even I can believe in!
Some might suggest that it wasn’t the critical mass of pressure against this policy that prompted Trump to respond, but rather a desire to placate conservatives following his attack on Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Even if that’s true, it still proves our point – that Trump is sensitive to criticism from the conservative base.
The moral of the story is that if conservatives allow liberal policies in this administration to continue to fester and decline to demand better from the president, indeed nothing will change. But if we actually demand change from him and apply sustained pressure, guess what? We might actually get what we want.
To his credit, Trump seems to understand the need to maintain the base. Robert Costa reported in the Washington Post that a Trump advisor told him the president asked how he thought the firing of Attorney General Sessions “would play in the conservative media.” If this report is true, it should be the best news conservatives have ever heard. Take your clout and run with it!
Instead, we’ve had much of the conservative media and movement largely tiptoeing around the president and blaming the liberal policies only on GOP leaders in Congress, even when some of these policies can be dealt with at an administrative level or are emanating directly from the White House. Sure, we know congressional leaders are bankrupt and that they don’t care about conservative blowback, but Trump evidently does. That is why he won the primary. It’s time for conservatives to use this pressure.
If nothing else, this president is transactional. He understands that he cannot operate if his base is upset. However, if on issue after issue — from defunding Planned Parenthood, building the wall, decreasing low-skilled guest worker programs, ending Obama’s amnesty, abolishing the national zoning board, and repealing Obamacare to moving the Jerusalem embassy and eliminating the Iran deal — conservatives remain appallingly silent, Trump will by default focus on the media and possibly lurch to the left, as Nixon did when he was under fire. This is especially evident given that most of his top advisors and cabinet members are not conservative.
If we continue to make excuses for liberal policies or failure to lead on critical issues of our time, we will not see an improvement. There are a number of conservative ideas on health care, immigration, and foreign policy that are being blocked by congressional leaders. Some of these bills have even passed committee. If conservatives would call upon the president to use the bully pulpit to demand their passage … he might actually listen. He might actually pursue an agenda that, ironically, would take Comey and Russia far off the headlines.
Just today, the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill to end the asylum fraud, in addition to a prior bill ending the unaccompanied minor scam that allows violent gang members who smuggle themselves into our country to be treated like victims of trafficking. This comes on the heels of the solid Davis-Oliver interior enforcement bill, which would also clamp down on sanctuary cities. Conservatives should light a fire under these ideas and ask the president to back and sell these bills.
On health care, conservatives should unite behind true free market health care, not just health insurance, and ask the president to turn the pressure he is applying against Jeff Sessions against the insurance cartel.
The opportunities are endless. This is what a healthy conservative movement would do. Yet, clearly there is a crisis of values and intellect among our ranks that is allowing so many to leave so much leverage on the table with a president who, for once, is sensitive to their criticism.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.