Kaufman: Trump’s success came when he embraced conservatism

When President Trump focused on bread-and-butter conservative issues — good judges, tax cuts, deregulation, and a robust foreign policy —  things went well for the country.

Yet again, conventional wisdom has declared the Republican Party in disarray or dead.

But the same banal people also made this claim in January 1933, 1965, 1993 and 2009. Never has it proved true. An autopsy or internecine battles do not mean eradication. Was the Democrat Party “dead” four years ago after losing all three branches and over 1,000 state and federal seats?

The irony is that only 12 weeks ago I explained how the GOP is more viable than their opponents. This remains accurate, as November’s down-ballot results showed folks are not tired of conservatism.

Contrary to what you’ve heard the last five years, Reaganite Republicanism succeeds. Since 1994, the GOP has controlled the U.S. House for 20 years. In the U.S. Senate, Republicans have held the upper hand 17 of the past 26 years.

Considering an impressive group of incoming congressmen, what’s changed? Other than losses by two underwhelming candidates in a purple state earlier this month, hurt by provocateurs attacking the party, very little.

When President Trump focused on bread-and-butter conservative issues — good judges, tax cuts, deregulation, and a robust foreign policy —  things went well for the country.

When he listened to blatherskites like Steve Bannon — an immoral cretin who defrauded Trump’s own supporters — we lost in ruby-red Alabama; when he listened to deluded lawyers, we lost two winnable Senate seats and control of the upper chamber; when he listened to conspiracy theorists and attention-seeking goons, we lost control of the U.S. Capitol. Literally.

On policy, many businesses criticized the administration’s tariffs on Chinese imports, saying they cause job loss, product price hikes, and hurt American workers and consumers.

Yes, it is good that we moved away from a purely business approach to China and immigration. And opposing multi-lateral agreements is fine, but the Trans-Pacific Partnership — from which the 45th president withdrew on Day 1 — would have pressured Beijing to change its cheating ways.

Most Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, also opposed TPP to appease the radical left, after initially supporting it. Comrades Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren abhorred the deal.

Asked recently about TPP’s future, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden is focused on “advancing working families and the American middle class.” Indeed, when not acting like a monarch, the 46th president seems set on launching his own protectionist policies.

Solution? Don’t punish companies for moving abroad; make America more attractive to capital investment vis-à-vis lower taxes.

A fortnight after its conclusion, if you’re a devoted populist, was the Trump presidency disappointing? The trade war didn’t work as intended, there’s no immigration bill or completed border wall, and the “Swamp” wasn’t drained. Trump also became the first president in 90 years to lose all three branches in one term.

Humiliating loyal allies like the vice president and a leader who confirmed record judges  — which drives the left insane because they prefer courts pass their unpopular legislation — is dismaying.

Oftentimes Trump’s most ardent supporters did the most damage. Highly-compensated talkers Lou DobbsLaura Ingraham, and Rush Limbaugh, alongside sycophantic websites like American Greatness, Breitbart, and The Federalist, will continue seeking scapegoats and abdicating prior principles for popularity. That’s a business decision.

But this coterie did their favorite leader a disservice by defending everything he did and being unwilling to reflect. It led the former president to constantly double down on boorish behavior, which ultimately alienated potential supporters. Populist movements often fail due to emotional volatility and cultish demagoguery. Minnesotans need only to remember Jesse Ventura.

Of course, a disingenuous press plays a role in our epistemological crisis; however, Trump’s final approval rating — which fell considerably during the final two months — is the lowest for an outgoing president since Harry Truman. Yet Truman is now on many top 10 lists. Due to media bias and hyper-partisanship, neither Trump nor George W. Bush will ever receive a fair reading. An unemotional re-evaluation is necessary 10-20 years out.

And as the coming months may show whether Biden governs as a healing centrist or continues appeasing the hard left, we’ll also glean insight into the future of the conservative movement and Donald J. Trump.