According to a new Monmouth University poll, President Trump’s approval rating has sunk to a record low of 32 percent. The Des Moines Register has a new poll out which shows that 60 percent of Iowans now disapprove of President Trump’s job performance.
In light of these dismal poll numbers, I want to challenge the myth that the Alt-Right has anything to do with this. President Trump is surrounded by conservative advisers who have spent a year now lobbying him to preserve the globalist status quo. The Republican Congress has spent all of its political capital advancing an unpopular mainstream conservative agenda. In fact, the Alt-Right has loudly opposed the Trump administration on every major policy decision for a year now – Syria, healthcare and tax cuts – and never wanted to go in this direction or focus on these conservative priorities.
A year ago, I was criticizing the Trump Cabinet even before the Inauguration. At the time, I said that it was a sprinkling of MAGA types on top of a Cabinet that was otherwise full of establishment hacks, big donors, family members, True Cons throwbacks, CEOs and Pentagon generals. These were also only the most prominent positions in the government. ALL of the lower level positions in the Trump administration were drawn from the same crowd and didn’t even go to MAGA types.
Over the course of the past year, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner triumphed over their rivals in the White House. General Michael Flynn was fired as National Security Adviser. FBI director James Comey was dismissed which led directly to the appointment of Robert Mueller. Steve Bannon was pushed out of the White House from his role as senior adviser. The people who President Trump surrounded himself with in the Cabinet have spent the last year doubling down on their failed ideas.
RT if you want a tax cut for Christmas. pic.twitter.com/5l3FXBOnld
— GOP (@GOP) December 14, 2017
President Trump was elected on a platform that promised sweeping change.
The American people have seen the exact opposite of change though. The Alt-Right’s priorities were immigration, trade and foreign policy. The True Cons priorities were healthcare, deregulation, military spending and massive tax cuts. Whose agenda has dominated the last year?
Just as I feared would happen, the Republican Congress spent the whole year trying to enact the True Cons agenda. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell spent March through August trying to push through the failed unpopular healthcare bill. They spent September through December on even the more wildly unpopular tax plan. Along the way, they took the time to pass the bloated $700 billion NDAA, the Charlottesville resolution and impose new sanctions on Russia. They also took a shot at repealing Dodd-Frank because I guess that is what they thought Middle America wanted.
It is difficult to understate how the Alt-Right has been thwarted at every turn by conservatives in the Trump administration: the focus on deregulation rather than the labor market, the military strike on Syria, decertifying the Iran nuclear deal, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, imposing new sanctions on Russia and Iran, antagonizing North Korea and Venezuela, the troop surge in Afghanistan, the arms deal with Saudi Arabia, reaffirming the NATO alliance, jettisoning the border tax in the tax reform bill, preserving the carried interest loophole in tax reform, refusing to label China a currency manipulator, and so on. It certainly wasn’t the Alt-Right that encouraged President Trump to wear a yarmulke at the Western Wall in Israel and condemn anti-Semitism while holding hands with Benjamin Netanyahu, at the top of his State of the Union Address and in a special address to the World Jewish Congress.
In the area of immigration alone, the Trump administration and the Republican Congress have failed to fund the border wall twice in April and September, failed to pass Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, failed to pass the RAISE Act or a stand alone E-Verify bill. Not only was Jose Antonio Vargas allowed to attend the State of the Union Address, but somehow deportations of illegal aliens are DOWN 7% over a year ago while arrests are up. The travel ban has finally gone into effect, but now applies to Venezuela, North Korea, Iran and Chad which don’t produce terrorists. The refugee cap has been set to 45,000 refugees a year which is a return to Bush administration levels. The Republican Congress is also determined to pass some form of DACA amnesty by March.
If you can believe it, the trade deficit under President Trump is up 12% over a year ago, and the trade deficit with China and Mexico is up 7% and 11% respectively. Dollar General is planning to open up 900 new stores while Wall Street is surging under a pro-business administration. Paul Ryan ruled out raising tariffs way back in January. Even though TPP was killed, there was been no fundamental change in our trade policy. Instead, we have doubled down on the conservative solution which is combining a massive corporate tax cut with our existing free trade policy based on the wishful thinking that corporations will decide to invest in production that produces jobs in the United States.
The Alt-Right hasn’t gotten anything it wanted on the cultural front from the Trump administration. Recently, President Trump hosted the annual Hanukkah party at the White House, attended the opening of a civil rights museum in Mississippi and celebrated the life of Rosa Parks as a great American hero. President Trump signed the Charlottesville resolution. He has gone through the motions of celebrating the multicultural calendar: Black History Month, Asian-Pacific Islander Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Jewish-American Heritage Month and Women’s History Month.
At every juncture in the road, the Alt-Right has been in the opposition – the Syria strike, the healthcare debacle, firing Steve Bannon and the tax bill – urging President Trump to change course. Now, if the reports we are hearing are true, it seems the Republican Congress intends to move on entitlement reform in 2018 in order to put a big fat exclamation point on their conservative agenda. It is an agenda which has no resemblance whatsoever to the vision we had in mind.
In an Alt-Right mirror universe, the Trump administration would have never included the likes of Gary Cohn, Jared Kushner or Rod Rodenstein on the principle of anti-Semitism alone. The top priorities in 2017 would have been immigration reform, trade reform and infrastructure reform. We would have focused on building the wall, deportation squads and the America First Tariff of 2017.
In the name of America First, the United States would have withdrawn from all globalist institutions like the United Nations and NATO, multilateral free trade agreements like NAFTA and begun the process of dismantling all American overseas military bases in foreign countries. We would have begun treating our so-called partners as economic rivals again, not as geopolitical allies. There would be no need for any geopolitical tension with Russia, Iran or North Korea over regional issues. The travel ban would apply to Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia.
If the Alt-Right had its way in the Trump administration, we would have passed sanctions on Mexico and deployed troops to the Mexican border to stop influx of drugs and illegal aliens. We would be forcing Latin American countries to take back all of their people who are squatting right now in California, Texas, Florida and other states. Puerto Rico would have been granted its independence months ago rather than been given a $36.5 billion bailout and emergency aid package.
Following the demise of the American Empire, there would be more than enough money to go around to build the border wall. The $65 billion that we are squandering on the slush fund for overseas wars in the NDAA alone would be more than enough to build it. Suppose that we decided to spend the balance on something useful like reforming the education system by ending the burden of student loan debt or grants to retrain American workers in a post-globalist economy.
Instead of mounting frustration with the preservation of the hated status quo, our heads would be spinning from all the dramatic change. There would be visible signs of progress. Illegal aliens would be being deported en masse. Muslim terrorists would be prevented from entering the country. The border wall would be under construction. NAFTA would have been ripped up. Overseas military bases would have been closed. Political correctness would be crumbling right now.
But no … we squandered that on healthcare reform and tax reform. Now, the Republican Congress wants to make matters even worse with entitlement reform. This is a reflection on conservatism, not the Alt-Right. George W. Bush ran on opposing gay marriage only to try to privatize Social Security.
This is to a large degree our fault.
We memed the God Emperor into existence. We created this association in the public mind between President Trump and our ideas. Unfortunately, this was only true of the campaign. It hasn’t been true of the Trump administration. It has been nothing but the same old retread conservatism for a year now and it shows every sign of getting worse in the year ahead.
The danger is that Alt-Right = Trump = MAGA = conservatism sticks in the public mind. Suppose these conservatives end up doing even more unpopular shit in 2018 like, say, entitlement reform or starting a new war with Iran, or something like the Crash of 2008 happens. It is impossible for me to imagine Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell doing anything that makes the GOP more popular.
We could end up getting stuck being associated with an extremely unpopular administration which has marginalized us from Day One. Perhaps this sounds alarmist, but we have seriously underestimated the amount of power and influence that conservatives would have in this administration. We vastly overestimated the power and influence that we would have in it.
There’s no excuse for that now.
Note: See also the Pew poll that I linked to the other day.