While it’s certainly wise to glance behind us and see how Donald Trump became so popular, not to mention how hardly anyone predicted Trump would win the presidency, it’s also beneficial to look ahead at what a Trump presidency may look like.
While his supporters have included many strains of nationalism and populism, he did run as a Republican, and this will hopefully work in his favor. Many Americans are hopeful, excited, and looking forward to a Trump presidency. Here are some of the reasons why.
1. A Republican Congress May Direct His Ambitions
Also contrary to election predictions, Republicans maintained a majority in both the House and Senate, at 238-193 and 51-47, respectively. That’s not all. In several surprising upsets, Republican opponents beat veteran Democrats like Senate candidates Russ Feingold and Evan Bayh. The so-called “Silent Majority” didn’t just show up to vote for Trump, but let their disgust at the political establishment trickle down to smaller races. Collectively these races added up to a Republican majority in Congress, which might do well for Trump for several reasons.
Trump has never held political office, and often parts of his agenda seemed vague. However, Trump also says what he thinks, which sometimes manifests as a lack of self-control.
Even as president, however, Trump luckily can’t do whatever he wants: the checks and balances that separation of powers provides exist for a reason. A Republican Congress with House Speaker Paul Ryan at the helm may guide Trump’s agenda and hold the reins when Trump feels tempted to respond impulsively.
With a commander-in-chief who purports to be on his side ideologically, Ryan may be able to accomplish some of the things Democrats have repeatedly filibustered, and for which he’s earned a somewhat-marred reputation (Two words, Ryan: omnibus bill.). Sen. Mike Lee already says he can’t wait to get started:
I congratulate President-Elect Trump & look forward to helping him repeal Obamacare, reduce regulation, and confirm conservative judges.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) November 9, 2016
No doubt this will be challenging for both Trump and Congress, but if one hones the other, like iron sharpens iron, it could make for a very sharp double-edged sword.
2. A Solid Supreme Court Appointment
For many conservatives like myself who were hesitant to board the “Trump train,” one of the sparkling gems in the crown of a Trump presidency was the idea that maybe, just maybe Trump would elect a conservative Supreme Court justice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat. One of the reasons I asked readers back in February to consider Trump was that we already knew without a doubt what kind of SCOTUS appointment Hillary Clinton would make. For example, her husband appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the lioness of liberalism on the court.
While we don’t exactly know what Trump will do with this, we’re hoping he chooses based on his own suggested list, which, as fellow Federalist Senior Contributor Illya Shapiro noted in this piece Tuesday, was encouraging. In fact, some might say Trump’s list for SCOTUS was like a Christmas list for conservatives. All we can hope is Trump replies, “Yes, Virginia, there is a constitutionally conservative SCOTUS justice,” and it will feel like Christmas morning.
We also already know Trump doesn’t like Obamacare and has said “on day one” he would repeal it, since he doesn’t want Americans to “suffer under the incredible economic burden” of the Affordable Care Act. (Even if you don’t like Trump, you have to agree with that.) With a Trump presidency and a conservative SCOTUS appointment, that dream just may become a reality. For conservatives, we’re not in Kansas anymore, and that’s a good thing.
3. Trump Could Reduce PC Pressure
Trump’s refusal to abide by the dictates of political correctness appealed to many voters. His supporters loved this, while Clinton added it as a weapon in her arsenal. At a Trump rally I attended in Virginia in August, one of the most common words of praise for Trump, next to his nationalism, was his ability to say what he thinks without regard to political correctness.
Of course, Trump took a lot of heat for this, not only for remarks that seemed racist, sexist, and misogynist, but also because the simplicity of his speech made him sound uninformed at best, stupid at worst. That didn’t matter; he pressed on.
Our culture is drowning in PC speech, especially on our college campuses, which even rolled out more safe spaces due to Trump’s win Tuesday. This Yale professor made an exam optional in case his students were upset. So a lack of politically correct language might be akin to a breath of fresh air in a boys’ dorm room. After eight years of a president unwilling and unable to call jihadism what it is—an extremist Muslim group that hates and wants to eradicate Western culture and religion—even after several jihadi mass shootings, a president who calls out Islamists may make America safer again.
People even found the way Trump expressed his immigration policies to be a welcome respite from the usual mantra that all are welcome, even the ones who live here illegally. The idea of building a wall he forces Mexico to pay for may be silly, but many agreed with his ideas that suspending our nation’s laws for preferred categories of illegal immigrants should end, detention for immigrants entering illegally should be enforced, and mandate “nationwide E-Verify for all new hires in the United States as a means to exclude illegal immigrants from employment.” Sound harsh? It sounds the opposite of politically correct, and that’s part of why Trump won this election.
4. A Trump Presidency Could Reignite the GOP
I could be wrong about all of the above. Trump may find his job as president challenging. He could: tweet strange things at 2 a.m., appoint terrible advisors for national security, make allies enemies and enemies allies, and, if he influences the economy the way he runs his hotels, that might tank too. Maybe Trump will force this country toward a downward spiral politically, economically, and morally at a rate no one has seen before. Maybe the United States, in particular its Republicans, will reach the end of their rope and finally look to the heavens and ask: What is conservatism? Then, and maybe only then, will they figure it out.
Like putting a displaced limb back into joint, this would look and feel painful. But if Trump incurs damage via the White House, that brokenness may be what is necessary to finally straighten out what conservatives believe and to heal this country from the inside out. Right now, based on how the GOP behaved this last year, this outcome seems the least likely, but four years of a Trump presidency that out-maneuvers everything laid out above could contribute to a more insightful GOP.
In all, many conservatives may not have chosen Trump as their candidate, and certainly liberals didn’t. But a little over half of the country did choose him. Could some of these things develop in the next four years and actually “Make America Great Again?” Time will tell.