The Trump Revolution of 2016 was one of the greatest political triumphs in modern history. Donald Trump a Republican outsider was able to knock over 16 establishment candidates in the primary, and then with hardly any help from Republican HQ and a hostile media he was able to defeat the ultimate establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton. All the political insiders said he could never win, but the movement he inspired and its energy was able to catapult him to the White House with the platform of Making America Great Again.
However, if we thought our work was done with Trump being elected President, that was a serious mistake. Trump is using his Presidency to enact all of the promises he made during the election campaign to keep faith with the voters. However, there is only so much he can do by Executive Order, other election commitments as per the Constitution must be passed by Congress.
In the election, the Republicans also maintained control of both houses of Congress. On paper, it looked as if Trump would have no problem implementing his legislative agenda. There was only one problem, the Trump Revolution did not extend to members of Congress. All the establishment Republicans who had been hostile to Trump right until he won the election won their primary contests against more Trump friendly candidates.
Despite the fact that the Republicans would not have maintained control of Congress if it wasn’t for Trump’s Presidential victory, so far they have proven they do not respect his mandate and want to prove to him that they still run Washington and have their own agenda. Nothing crystallizes this attitude more than the failed repeal and replace of Obamacare. The mainstream media’s spin on this debacle was that Trump, the self-described deal maker, had failed at the first deal he had attempted to make in Washington.
Though how do you make a deal with people who still want to destroy you? Trump’s biggest mistake here it seems was allowing the Obamacare replacement effort to be headed by House Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan has been no fan of Trump from the very beginning, he denounced Trump’s proposed Muslim ban when it was first announced, he delayed endorsing Trump for as long as possible and then refused to campaign with Trump after the Access Hollywood tape was released.
Although Trump successfully campaigned as a political outsider, he still had to find a way to navigate around the complex workings of Washington but his trust in Ryan to do this was seriously misplaced. The fact that Ryan proposed a bill that managed to alienate both free market Republicans and Congressional Democrats was an astounding political act. It led many commentators to speculate that Paul Ryan deliberately tried to sabotage the repeal effort. After the vote on the bill was pulled at the last minute Paul Ryan declared that Obamacare would be the law of the land for the foreseeable future.
After promising to repeal and replace Obamacare for the past seven years but deciding to give up at the first setback when you have the power to do so is quite bizarre. Trump’s supporters are rightly not happy, many are calling on Paul Ryan to resign. Trump hinted that this is what he would like to see happen as he sent out a tweet urging people to watch Justice with Judge Jeanine who opened her show by calling on Paul Ryan to resign.
However, given that the Congress is still full with establishment Republicans forcing Ryan out would most likely result in a Speaker who is just as hostile to the Trump agenda. This is why the Trump Revolution needs a phase 2, to replace all of the establishment Republicans with new Trump Republicans. This could not be achieved in 2016 because all of Trump’s supporters’ energy was directed at helping him securing the nomination and attempting to thwart the establishment’s efforts to steal it from him. Here is where Trump’s status as a political outsider is at a disadvantage as it means he is not surrounded by people who share his vision. He has been forced to appoint many establishment people to key positions in his administration.
But the 2018 mid-term elections are an opportunity to change this. It is a non-Presidential election year and Trump’s supporters can channel all of their efforts into supporting primary challenges against those Republicans who have done their best to sabotage Trump’s agenda at every turn. It is still a year away from those contests, plenty of time for Trump supporters to increase their influence in local Republican bodies and gain election to positions of influence in the party. Signs already are promising with even Paul Ryan’s primary contest looking shaky, his polling as fallen to 43% and his pro-Trump primary challenger from 2016 Paul Nehlen is back for another shot in 2018.
The failed Obamacare bill will not be the last effort by the establishment Republicans to cause political damage for Trump. Given that many still want an investigation into the supposed Russian hacking of the election, they have shown no signs that they want to have a constructive relationship with Trump or are even thankful for the election victory he won for them. The revolution is not finished yet, 2018 will be just as an important year for the new Trump Republican Party as was 2016.