In late August 2009, there was not a single office of a single agency within a single department of the Obama administration that was not inexorably committed to the former president’s transformational agenda. Fast-forward eight years, and there is almost no agency within the Trump administration that is committed to the principles of the supposed Trump agenda or at least the underlying expectation motivating those who cast their ballots for the Donald.
With the firing of Steve Bannon, there is now not a single potent force countering the Obama deep state and Trump’s liberal “shallow state” of appointees. The Trump revolution has been eclipsed. And unlike the solar eclipse, the duration of the “totality” will not be limited to a few minutes; it appears to be terminal. Personnel is policy.
Steve Bannon was a controversial figure even among many conservatives. However, while he was not a traditional conservative, he did recognize the need to engage in mortal combat against the corrosive mentality of the political elites. He was the only bulwark against the liberal appointees who guided Trump leftward and contradicted all of his campaign promises. With Bannon out of the administration, the last anti-establishment voice will be gone. Prepare for the complete takeover of the West Wing engineered by Jared Kushner and the other New York Democrats. With congressional Republicans and the broader party structure already completely divorced from conservatism, the death of the Trump administration should serve as the final nail in the coffin for those who believed the GOP could ever serve as a vehicle for positive change.
Some of us predicted this outcome a long time ago. We knew that, although Trump’s rhetoric tapped into the deep disquiet of those who felt betrayed by the conventional party leaders, his lack of principles, character flaws, and personal connections to leftists would turn his administration into the very essence of what voters rejected when they pulled the lever for the unconventional candidate. I take no pride in being proven right about Trump. The important thing at this point is for everyone to recognize the reality of this administration and unite to form a new movement, one that is built upon principle and guided by those who will place those principles first.
From time to time, Trump will continue to tantalize us with his tweets, rhetoric, and campaign-style rallies, channeling our indictments of the political class or professing some of our deeply held beliefs. But given the personnel in his administration, the policy outcomes will almost never match his rhetoric in any meaningful way. His administration has become part of the muck in the swamp.
Conservatives now stand at a crossroads. We can expend all our resources and political capital on playing defense and defending every scandal, fake scandal, and rhetorical dust-up in this administration because we hate the media and the Democrats. We can take solace in “but Gorsuch,” “but Hillary,” and “at least we’re fighting the media,” or we can take our destiny into our own hands and declare independence from all of this nonsense, standing on our own principles. It’s time to start a new movement and a new party, built upon fresh ideas on federalism, the role of the courts, health care reform, a balanced foreign policy placing America’s interests first, a stable civil society, and protecting our national sovereignty.
At some point, those who saddled us with Trump in the presidential primary need to understand that this is not just about the company the president keeps. It’s about the man himself. Everything is personal with him. This has nothing to do with a revolution, certainly not an American-style revolution. This is why he has no problem hiring and maintaining swamp creatures. And according to Axios, these liberal figures plan on staying long-term because they know they will control the policy outcomes.
To be clear, I maintain the same position I’ve espoused for two years — that Trump is not the problem; it’s just that he won’t be the solution. And in spectacular fashion, overshadowing the absurdity depicted in Animal Farm, his revolution has morphed into the very swamp it claimed to be draining.
But unlike Republican opponents of Trump, many of us recognize that while the Trump administration is irreparably broken, the broader party long ago became irremediably broken as well. We are not one election of Marco Rubio or Ben Sasse away from healing the party. This party will never work for us.
Some might think that following the Obamacare betrayal, there will be a revolution during next year’s primaries. Not so. Aside from Judge Roy Moore, every conservative candidate has failed to win, and they will continue to fail because the establishment candidates use their superior fire power to lie and run on our issues. Just last week, a de facto Democrat won a conservative Utah district because the state has essentially nullified its convention system. I’ve explained before why using the Utah convention model is the only way to win enough seats to transform the party from within. Yet now, even Utah gutted its convention system and allowed a liberal to overturn the results of a convention with a primary.
Primaries are all about money and name ID, which is why our founders didn’t trust direct democracy and preferred representative republicanism embodied in a convention. That was the system that persisted in party primaries until Teddy Roosevelt and the progressives changed it. It’s no coincidence that in 2016, Ted Cruz won all the conventions and Trump won most of the primaries. Name ID is everything.
We are stuck with this failed system that ensures the Republican Party is irreparable. When Trump says things we agree with, by all means go and defend him. But just understand that it’s extremely unlikely his administration will actually follow through with those policies, and even if he tries, he’ll be thwarted by an even more perfidious party leadership.
This is why we must abandon this dumpster fire and chart a path to a new party. There is no silver bullet. This will take a huge amount of hard work. Between growing the Federalist Party, going forward with the Convention of States, and electing people on the Republican line who will have zero allegiance to the party, we can prepare for an opportune moment to break out onto the political scene when it presents itself.
If, by the next solar eclipse in 2024, we are still debating Republicans and Democrats, we will long since have crossed the point of return, at which there’s nothing left over which to fight.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.