The Transition So Far: Splendid!

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Beginning with the joint appointment of Reince Priebus as chief of staff and Steve Bannon as chief “strategist,” the Trump administration has been signaling two things:

1) He’s not going to abandon the outsiders who voted him into office, no matter how much stuff the media makes up about them, and 2) it’s going to include establishment full-spectrum conservatives (especially those who value the life issue).

Today’s announcement of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as Attorney General is another great indicator. The media had tried to portray this as a race between pro-choice Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie (whose record on religious liberty, parental rights, and judicial appointments leaves a lot to be desired).

Behind the scenes insiders told me it was a race between Sessions and Christie. With Christie removed from the transition team and Rudy taking himself out of the race, the path for Sen. Sessions to run the president’s legal team was cleared.

As APP’s president Frank Cannon said:

On life, education, religious freedom, sound money — really, across the board — Senator Jeff Sessions has proven himself to be an advocate for the Constitution and for the hard-working people of this great nation. We expect he will do an excellent job as Attorney General.

Through the quality of the people he is bringing on board, President-elect Donald Trump is demonstrating, in quick order, that he intends to end business as usual in Washington and truly make America great again. We applaud this appointment and look forward to Donald Trump’s presidency.

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The Three Most Important Takeaways from the 2016 Election

Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Ariz. (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

On March 3, 2015, as the early stages of the Republican presidential primary campaign were just getting under way, our team launched ThePulse2016.com to keep readers like you up to date on the latest developments in the 2016 election. Now, just over 20 months since that day, the 2016 election has finally come to a close.

In those 20 months, the race has taken twists and turns none of us could have expected. From a deep field of well-known Republican political leaders emerged an outsider candidate — Donald Trump — who, although not initially taken seriously, was able to speak to the concerns of many voters in a way no other GOP candidate could. And after shocking the political world by winning the Republican nomination, he pulled off an even bigger upset — overcoming the well-funded and well-organized Democratic election machine and defeating heavy favorite Hillary Clinton.

So, as the country slowly comes to grips with Tuesday night’s results, what can be learned from the events which have transpired over the last 20 months? How should we move forward after such an intensely divisive and emotionally draining campaign? Here are three suggestions:

1.) The Republican Party Needs to Reunite

Although things might seem all fine and dandy after last night’s victories, there’s really no avoiding the underlying reality: the post-Trump GOP is a fractured party.

Some division was to be expected after such a long, spirited primary as we saw earlier this year. Continue Reading

Hey, RedState? Quit Viciously Attacking Good Conservatives.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

I have a lot of respect for Leon Wolf and all the folks over at RedState. I really do. But I made the decision months ago to ignore their website — at least until Wednesday, November 9th — when they became so stubbornly committed to the #NeverTrump movement that they chose to support Gary Johnson, a pro-abortion, anti-religious freedom statist who is not remotely conservative.

Yuck.

It’s one thing to oppose Trump on a principled level, which I can understand. Several writers for The Pulse 2016 have been vocally #NeverTrump, including Maggie Gallagher, Michael Lucchese, and others. But attacking people — good people — who are trying to do their best to advance the conservative movement is beyond ridiculous for an ostensibly “conservative” website.

Enough, RedState. Stop it.

Kimberly Ross went on a vicious tirade today against Marjorie Dannenfelser, president at Susan B. Anthony List and a frequent contributor at The Pulse 2016, after news broke that Dannenfelser would be heading up Trump’s pro-life coalition:

In no way is Trump trustworthy on abortion or any other issue. He has shown little natural pro-life inclination since January. The only thing that has changed is he has moved up to the front of the pack.

Dannenfelser and others just don’t want to get left behind.

I truly believe the pro-life platform is a foundation on which to base other conservative ideas. Believing life is precious from conception through old age molds a person’s worldview.

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Remembering Phyllis Schlafly

Phyllis Schlafly (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

On Monday, we lost an American icon and hero for women.

Phyllis Schlafly, the First Lady of the conservative movement, was a force of nature. She led a revolution of American women while raising six children, fighting the Equal Rights Amendment, writing a syndicated column, writing an 800 page book, and getting her law degree from Washington University in St. Louis. This is after she received her Masters from Harvard and turned down an opportunity to attend Harvard Law School–which at the time was not accepting women. She paved the way for the conservative revolution of Barry Goldwater and ultimately Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

Phyllis also ran for office and in 1970 during one of her congressional races her opponent rudely remarked that Phyllis should be at home with her children. She famously responded that, “My opponent says a woman’s place is in the home. But my husband replies, a woman’s place is in the House — the U.S. House of Representatives.” Cue feminists demanding they invented that line…

Her work outside the home never supplanted the work within and as she raised her children she was also an advocate for parental rights, education, and school choice.

And in case those topics were not enough, she was also an expert on national defense and immigration among many other issues.

I first learned about Phyllis in my Women in American History class in college and was lucky enough to meet her in person many times after moving to Washington, DC.

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How a Clinton Victory Would Powerfully Unite the Right

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (photo credit: Lorie Shaull via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

In a previous column I considered how the coalition that is the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy began to fray after losing the common enemy against which it had united:

In 1988, as reported by the LA Times, one of President Gorbachev’s key advisors gave away the game. “Our major secret weapon,” said Georgi Arbatov, director of the Soviet Academy of Sciences’ Institute for U.S and Canada Studies, “is to deprive you of an enemy.”

That column explored how the loss of its common enemy — the USSR — caused the right wing coalition to begin to fray and unravel and, thus, the GOP to lose its moorings. That column also pointed out how the election of Donald Trump could be one way to reunite the right.

If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, though, her victory holds the distinct possibility of even more fundamentally uniting the right, bringing the GOP back to its core values of peace, equitable prosperity, and human dignity.

How might this be?

Clinton, a center-left Neoliberal, could well portend a Götterdämmerung for the classical republican order, galvanizing the right in ways that President Obama never quite did. Clinton lacks President Obama’s suaveness, and the opportunity that would be afforded to her to constitute a center-left Supreme Court would be catastrophic to major elements of the conservative coalition.

For these reasons, the right is more likely to recognize the fact that a mortal enemy, a worthy successor to the USSR, has definitively emerged.

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How the Soviet Union’s Secret Weapon Ultimately Unhinged the GOP

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

The most enduring cliché of every presidential election is that it is the most important in history. The nominees proclaim this because, for them, this is certainly true. They also hope it will motivate their base to vote.

That said, this time it could be true. America is having a political nervous breakdown. It’s overdue, and a good thing. Out of the chaos a profound transformation will likely ensue. What might that look like?

[…]

The presenting problem with our political system seems to be that the GOP has grown vague as to its core identity as the authentic party of peace, equitable prosperity, and human dignity. While both parties have lapsed from ideology to dogma, the Democrats are much clearer on what they are about.

The GOP has grown so vague with respect to its core mission that when I point out the historically incontrovertible facts of its values to my progressive friends, they look at me, bewildered, to see whether I am pulling their leg.

Let’s exonerate the GOP for having lost its way. The GOP takes its cue from the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy which has lost its unity and focus.

Conservatives are not quite culpable either. In 1988, as reported by the LA Times, one of President Gorbachev’s key advisors gave away the game. “Our major secret weapon,” said Georgi Arbatov, director of the Soviet Academy of Sciences’ Institute for U.S and Canada Studies, “is to deprive you of an enemy.”

The perp?

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Party’s Over: It’s Time for Conservatives to Leave the GOP

Since the conclusion of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, the GOP has been tearing itself apart. And Senator Ted Cruz is already positioning himself to pick up the pieces and put the party back together.

National Review is reporting that Cruz donors are less-than-happy with his actions, however. Some are even threatening to support other candidates in future races.

On the night before Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination, Cruz gave a rousing speech in which he encouraged Americans to vote their consciences. The delegates in the Quicken Loans Arena, however, responded to this statement of principle with loud booing and threats of physical violence.

Photo credit: Disney | ABC Television Group via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The speech was not the first time Cruz and his allies attempted to change the course of the convention, either. Prior to Cruz’s seismic remarks, conservative stalwarts Ken Cuccinelli and Senator Mike Lee tried to weaken the Republican National Committee’s power over the primary process. Serving as delegates on the rules committee, the Tea Partiers tried forcing votes on important rule changes to help secure grassroots victories in the future.

“This was an opportunity for the grassroots to finally spread power out in the party unlike 2012 and instead, we had a redo of 2012. We had a chairman gaveling through people who legitimately obeyed the rules to get a roll call vote. This was disenfranchisement, dare I say,” Cuccinelli said.

Clearly, Cruz and his allies have driven themselves into a tight corner in their attempt to preemptively position their 2020 campaign for the Republican nomination. Continue Reading

Could Trump Re-energize the Conservative Movement?

Jeff Bell, the American Principles Project’s Policy Director and occasional contributor to The Pulse 2016, was recently featured in an interview with National Review writer Neal Freeman about the 2016 election and the rise of Donald Trump.

Although some conservatives have strenuously opposed Trump’s nomination as the Republican Party’s standard-bearer in 2016 and have refused to support him, Bell believes that Trump’s success may ultimately be a “net plus for conservatism” — if he can get the GOP’s economic agenda back on track. And to do that, Bell sees one policy item as absolutely critical:

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

FREEMAN: … In what way could Trump wind up as a net plus for conservatism, with the latter defined for this purpose as Buckleyite conservatism?

BELL: The key political development in the post-Reagan era is the decline of conservative economics. Beginning with James Carville’s “It’s the economy, stupid” strategy in 1992, Republicans have not won the economic debate in a single presidential cycle. Moreover, as weak as the Obama economy has been, economic growth in 15 years of Democratic presidencies has been superior to the twelve years of Bush presidencies.

Voters continue to blame George W. Bush more than Barack Obama for the economic hard times that began in 2007. Conventional conservative economics of the type espoused by Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio lost every primary this year but Ohio and Puerto Rico. They barely mentioned wage stagnation or work-force decline and offered what sounded like trivial and incremental fixes.

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Florida Governor Betrays Conservative Principles with Obergefell Answer

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

In an interview on Tuesday evening sure to upset the conservative grassroots, Florida Governor Rick Scott said that the Republican Party needs to de-emphasize its opposition to the LGBT agenda.

“We need to figure out how to come together as a country and include the Republican Party,” Scott said. “We all need to come together,” adding, “It’s the law of the land.”

There are deep constitutional problems with Scott’s response.

Princeton professor and conservative intellectual Robert George has argued several times that surrendering to activist judges on cases like Roe v. Wade or Obergefell v. Hodges undermines constitutional government as understood by statesmen like the Founders and Abraham Lincoln.

In one article, George quoted Lincoln, who said “The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments coequal and co-sovereign within themselves.”

The Supreme Court, like any other branch of government, can act unconstitutionally. Nine unelected elites in black robes sitting in a grand building have no greater legitimacy than the states or the Congress or the President.

When Governor Scott, or other Republican politicians who would rather ditch same-sex marriage as an issue, acknowledge Obergefell as the “law of the land,” they enable further disruption of the constitutional order the Founders so wisely designed.

The problems with Governor Scott’s position on Obergefell do not stop with there, however. Continue Reading

Trump Misses Huge Opportunity on Supreme Court Abortion Case

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

After keeping silent for most of the week following the Supreme Court’s pro-abortion ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, Donald Trump finally weighed in on the case yesterday in a radio interview, arguing that the outcome would have been different if he were president:

“Now if we had Scalia … or if Scalia was replaced by me, you wouldn’t have had that. Okay? It would’ve been the opposite,” Trump told radio host Mike Gallagher during an interview, referring to late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.

[…]

Trump also said that the decision was the first of many liberal victories to come if his likely Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, wins the presidency in November. On the campaign trail, Trump has regularly talked about Supreme Court appointments to elevate the stakes of the race.

“You know, there’s your first example right there …that’s going to be the first of many. And if she gets in, if she gets in, you won’t even have to question. You wouldn’t even have to bother going to court. You’re going to know the answers,” he said.

For conservatives deeply concerned about the normally outspoken Trump’s lack of comment on the issue, these remarks were likely met with at least a partial sigh of relief. But is this a case of better late than never? Or did his response come too little too late?

It depends on which conservative you talk to:

The episode reinforced doubts among prominent conservatives over whether Trump is sufficiently dedicated to ensuring a right-leaning Supreme Court.

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