The squeaky wheel always gets oil. Which is why it’s so important that conservatives raise hell with the president when he is betraying a key promise. As the Trump direction change on the Paris climate agreement – against the wishes of his “shallow state” advisers – demonstrates, when conservatives speak out, Trump feels the heat from the Right and often changes course. On the other hand, when we remain silent in the face of a betrayal, Trump will have no incentive to withstand internal pressure or even understand the need to change course.
Yesterday, for the first time in weeks, it actually felt good to be on “the red team.” We have a Republican president who is keeping a key promise of fighting the odious agenda of the climate fascists and articulated our policy views effectively. For once, we can fight the media on issues of substance and over our beliefs rather than over nonsensical scandals. More, please!
Some conservatives will mistakenly learn from this week that because Trump is apparently keeping one promise, we should lay off him on other issues. That we should play the binary game and be happy that at least on one significant issue, our voices were heard. “Don’t get greedy, at least he’s better than Hillary,” goes the mindless bromide of the binary game. The opposite is true. What this week demonstrated is that when conservatives make their voices heard and demand that Trump ignore his liberal policy advisers, he is amenable to keeping his campaign promises. Now it’s time to use this momentum to demand some more policy and personnel changes so that this administration can return to conservative substance and fight the media on favorable policy territory.
Conservatives must not succumb to the soft bigotry of low expectations. After all, the only direction to go, after the moral nadir of the Obama years, is up. Everything will always be better when compared to the Obama years. But shouldn’t we strive for so much more, especially as it relates to issues the president can change unilaterally, without Congress and, often, simply by inaction?
By denying reality or making excuses for Trump, we are not doing him or ourselves any favors. With a cadre of liberals surrounding him – from Dina Powell, Gary Cohn, and Jared Kushner to H.R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson, and Steven Mnuchin – Trump might not even realize that many of the policy outcomes are divergent from his own rhetoric if conservatives fail to raise their voices.
Just consider how on the same day he showed tremendous leadership regarding the economic harm of the climate treaty, he broke a major pledge to move the Israel embassy to Jerusalem. This is a colossal betrayal because Trump promised in the most emphatic terms to move the embassy as part of a broader shift in policy in the Middle East. What’s worse than the broken promise is the rationale behind it – that he wants to continue the Clinton/Obama policies of pursuing negotiations with the PLO terrorists. He has also gotten sucked into the Saudi vortex, which has pressured him not to move the embassy.
What gives? Why did the president buck his “shallow state” Democrat advisers on the Paris climate agreement but not on the broader foreign policy of his first overseas trip?
It’s because prominent conservatives made it clear that to continue with the Paris agreement was unacceptable. After weeks of liberal posturing from Gary Cohn and Rex Tillerson on the climate agreement, conservatives sounded the alarm, and it worked. It also helps that, unlike with other conservative issues, there is big industry on board with his Paris decision. No such pressure has been brought to bear on his Israel betrayal. Very few prominent voices on the Right have even recognized this problem.
It is long past time that we locate our embassy in #Jerusalem and it is deeply disappointing that the President has decided not to do so.
— Ron DeSantis (@RepDeSantis) June 1, 2017
While both the White House and congressional Republican leadership are saturated with liberals, the difference between the two is that the president has actually shown he is sensitive to conservative criticism, which is a good thing. Absent such criticism, though, nothing will change.
Conservatives would be wise to take the momentum from the global warming victory and raise Cain over the following:
We must never forget that in Washington, the inertia and gravitational pull for a president are only in one direction, and it’s not in our favor. That is doubly true in this era, when Democrats are at the highest levels of a GOP administration and congressional Republicans are more impotent and indifferent than ever before. President Trump has shown a willingness to listen to conservatives, but we will never get what we want if we don’t even ask for it.
Conservatives must remember that they do their allies within the administration no favors by remaining silent and treating the administration with kid gloves. Stop the excuses, denials, and defensive posturing whenever some of us point out the betrayals or liberal policies emanating from this administration. They can’t be rectified if we don’t speak out, and nobody will speak out if these observations are not brought to light. When conservatives apply external pressure, our allies within the administration will be empowered to take our concerns directly to the president and override the New York Democrat faction of the West Wing.
Obama and Reagan welcomed such criticism from their respective bases because it allowed them to play the pseudo-moderate game, as if they were moving to the center while still shifting the policy outcomes to their base supporters. Obama effectively played this game on immigration when he noted how his base was demanding “blanket amnesty” and how he was going to take a middle-of-the-road approach. We must do the same with Trump from the right.
And who knows? Perhaps, if conservatives stopped being bashful, maybe the president would be incentivized to change direction not just on policy, but on personnel as well. That would represent true climate change.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.