Monday, July 2, 2018

Seven Conservative Victories

There’s one more thing I wanted to cover from the Republican Party of Texas convention a couple of weeks ago. On Saturday morning Senator Ted Cruz spoke. He detailed a list of seven victories in the first 18 months of the Trump presidency.

Ted Cruz's speech at the Republican Party of Texas Convention,
view from the crowd

If you’ve been reading here long, you know I was not a Trump supporter. I was a Cruz supporter in the primaries. And after that, I believed I had no reason to trust that Trump was telling the truth when he promised to do conservative things. Ted Cruz, I believed, also had many reasons not to trust Trump. He didn’t initially offer his endorsement, but when Trump personally promised to put forth a constitutionalist to replace Justice Scalia, Cruz went ahead and endorsed him and campaigned for him. There may have been additional promises and proofs in their private conversation. I wasn’t privy to those assurances. And I was not willing to give him my vote.

But the way to convert me is with actions in line with the promises. In other words, earn my trust. I’m not quite at the point of promising my vote in the next election; there are still character issues that bother me. But, unlike those with “Trump derangement syndrome,” I do not believe he is the things on this list, in a New York Post piece about the man who refused to serve a customer wearing a MAGA cap:

Darin Hodge, the former manager of the Teahouse in Stanley Park, told Global News he stood by his decision to ask the man to take off the cap, saying the hat represented “racism, bigotry, Islamophobia, misogyny, white supremacy, (and) homophobia.”
I don’t believe there is actual, business-world/real-world evidence that Trump is racist, bigoted, Islamophobic, misogynistic, white supremacist, or homophobic.

He is other things related to character: willing to lie and malign opponents; unfaithful to multiple wives; careless about hyperbole and sometimes unaware of facts; sometimes temperamental and reactionary in responding to criticism. And he is a relative newborn as a conservative. But he is not what he is defined as. There is no need to stand up to either Trump, or his voters, or Republicans, or conservatives based on that list. That is a straw man. It is what is being used to stir people up to a frenzy, but there is no there there.

So, as I was saying, while there may still be reasons not to dive in with my full support just yet, I do very much support President Trump on these victories, as listed by Ted Cruz. I’m willing to cheer and get the word out.

So, here we go, mostly in Senator Cruz’s words:

Number 1: An historic tax cut. In December of last year Republicans managed to come together and pass a tax cut, cutting taxes on Texas farmers, on Texas ranchers, on small businesses, on manufacturers, on families. Cutting taxes across the board. Doubling the standard deductible. Which means, starting next year 90% of Americans will fill out their taxes on a postcard. Personally, I think that should be 100%. We should pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRS. But 90% is a very good start….
Editorial comment here. I generally cringe at the use of “an” before “historic,” which is not a silent “h.” However, you should know that Cruz did not pronounce the “h” in “historic.” It’s a Houston thing. We put the “h” in Houston, but not in Humble, a suburb directly north of Houston. So it wasn’t actually pretentious when Cruz said “an historic.”

Second major victory: Regulatory reform—across the board, every agency, pulling back, repealing job-killing regulations. If you’re a Texas farmer or rancher, the Waters of the United States Rule, Obama’s oppressive rule, gone.
And I spent 45 minutes with President Trump on Air Force One urging him to pull out of the Paris climate deal, saying this is a disaster for Texas. This kills thousands of jobs across the country. He did it.
The President pulled out of the climate deal on a Thursday. The next morning, Friday morning, he calls me on my cell phone. He said, “Well, Ted, I did it. What do you think?”
And I said, “Mr. President, let me tell you what Heidi told me this morning. When she picked up the Wall Street Journal, she read the headline—it quoted from your speech, where you said, ‘I was elected by the people of Pittsburg, and not the people of Paris.’ Heidi said, ‘That is absolutely right.’” I said, “Mr. President, everyone who hates you is ticked off right now, and everyone who loves you is thrilled.”
He added that those two victories have had a significant result already, which you probably haven’t seen on the 6:00 news:

We’ve seen over 3 million jobs created just in a year and a half. We have the lowest unemployment in almost 20 years. We have the lowest African-American unemployment since we began collecting unemployment data. We have the lowest Hispanic unemployment since we began collecting unemployment data. We have, today, more job openings, more help wanted signs, than we have people actively seeking employment.

Third big victory: We repealed the Obamacare individual mandate. That was a big, big deal. When I led the fight in the Senate to do that, I’ll tell you, back in October nobody thought we had a prayer…. We made the case both privately and publicly. We brought Republicans together, unified the party, and in December of last year all 52 Republicans stood together, and we repealed the Obamacare individual mandate.
That means that 6 ½ million Americans getting fined every year by the IRS because they can’t afford healthcare, including 1 million Texans getting fined every year—all of those fines go away.
Not all of Obamacare is history yet, unfortunately. And the individual mandate penalty isn’t actually lifted until 2019, which means that this year, because we were without insurance for half a year, we’re going to have to use money from our 401K to pay the penalty when the next Tax Day arrives. Still, glad to know that’s ending.

Number four major victory: School choice. A method I introduced on the tax bill, that takes College 529 plan, savings plans, tax advantage plans—incredibly popular across the country—and expands it to include K-12 education, to include public school, private school, parochial school, religious school—up to $10,000 per child per year….
[It’s] the most significant federal school choice legislation that has ever passed Congress. It passed after midnight, nearly 2:00 in the morning, with a 50-50 Senate, and Vice-President Pence breaking the tie. An incredible victory for Texas school children and up to 50 million school children all across the country.
Here’s one that seems even more significant this week, following the retirement of Justice Kennedy:

Number five major victory: Judges. Neil Gorsuch on the US Supreme Court. Principled constitutionalists up and down the federal bench. You know, last year, in 2017, we set a record for confirming the most court of appeals judges in the first term of a president. Right now, today, one eighth of the federal appellate judges in this country were appointed by Donald J. Trump. One out of eight, in just a year and a half to date.
For every one of us that values the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, who values life, who values religious liberty, who values free speech, who values the Second Amendment, it is the judges who are at the crossroads of preserving those rights or taking them away.
I wrote about this next one recently:

Number six. Just a few weeks ago I was blessed to be in Israel for the opening of our embassy in Jerusalem. The embassy opened on the 70th anniversary of the creation of the modern state of Israel. Seventy years ago David Ben Gurion declared the modern state of Israel in existence. Eleven minutes later Harry S. Truman recognized Israel. I’m embarrassed that it took us eleven minutes….
I’m thankful I was in Jerusalem for the opening. There were Americans there. There were Israelis there. Particularly there were men and women who were holocaust survivors, who were reduced to tears, who simply said, “I never thought I would live long enough to see this.” This is another major victory.
Wait, there’s more!

Number seven: Ending the disastrous Obama Iranian Nuclear deal. The Obama Iran nuclear deal was one of the most catastrophic national security steps ever taken by the United States. We sent literally billions of dollars to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. We flew in cash—$1.7 Billion dollars in unmarked bills, on pallets in airplanes in the dark of night…. You’d ask… “Who exactly is this person I’m dealing with?” Well, sadly, that person was the president of the United States, and he was sending billions of dollars to an ayatollah who pledged “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!”
And, once again, in the Trump administration there was a vigorous argument, a vigorous debate about what to do. You had major voices of the administration saying stay in the deal. I tell you, I spent hours and hours and hours making the case to the president, making the case to the administration, that this agreement is a disaster. We need to cut off their money. We need to cut them off diplomatically. We need to use every force we have economically, diplomatically, and even militarily to ensure that the ayatollahs never ever, ever get nuclear weapons.
Before he went ahead with his senatorial campaign, which was good stuff, and also his ribbing of late night host Jimmy Kimmel, who was playing him that evening in a one-on-one basketball game (Cruz won, by the way), Cruz offered this summary:

One or two of those would have been big major victories in a year and a half. Three or four of those would have been astonishing. All seven is an incredible testament to delivering results.
I have to admit that’s true.

After the speech and some business, I went to look for my son,
Political Sphere, and his wife. And I came upon the photo ops booth for
Senator Cruz. I snapped this photo of him, with people I don't know,
because I was so close. Then I tried to get in line for a photo,
but they cut it off two people ahead of me. So I called Political Sphere;
they had just gotten their photo taken. I had missed them
by going the wrong way to get to the end of the line. Bad timing.
Anyway, they have a photo with Sen. Cruz, but I haven't seen it yet.

Back in 2016, when Cruz stepped out of the race, my thought was, “There’s the end of our constitutional republic.” I was in mourning. I was horrified at the possibility Hillary Clinton—the worst major candidate in the history of presidential races—could take over our country. But at that point I really had no evidence that a President Trump would be measurably better.

I’m so very glad to be wrong. There is hope. Trust is building. It turns out that tyrannical infrastructure built on executive orders and legislation-by-judiciary crumbles pretty quickly, once someone determinedly moves back toward constitutional law.

Like Samson in the Old Testament, Trump is an unlikely champion for good.

But, as surprising as it seems, in between cringe-worthy tweets and threats of authoritarianism (that truly frighten the real authoritarians), we conservatives are having some major victories. And, if President Trump keeps listening to wise conservative counsel, we’ll keep getting more of these victories.

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