Donald J. Trump – the most unconventional of presidents – has rattled the establishment since he secured the Republican Party presidential nomination. Now, it seems, the establishment is rattling him. Faced with obstruction at every turn, he blames the media and both sides in Congress for his inability to get things done. At least, this is the common narrative. Perhaps the narrative is false, however; perhaps it is not about blame but about pointing out the flaws in the system.
The establishment is anti-Trump, and it was widely assumed that the president used an anti-establishment narrative to get elected. As it turns out, Trump really is anti-establishment; even anti-government, or – at least – federal government in its current form.
For all the bluster in the mainstream media, the president is facing what any Republican president would face. The media is boring, predictable and unimaginative in its criticism of Trump. The only difference is that, for the first time, the Fourth Estate is no longer even pretending, to be honest, or objective. Traditional media is all but dead. As discussed previously in Liberty Nation, the only remaining difference between most print and television reporters and the tens of thousands of internet writers is that the former have better connections and press credentials.
The political establishment is as much a club of elites as the mainstream media. Clearly, Donald Trump does not belong, and Republican loyalty to him was based on nothing more than winning an election. For all his real or perceived faults, Trump is far more one of ‘us’ – the American people – than a lot of people would like to admit. His net worth is irrelevant; America is full of wealthy people who are admired, for one reason or another. Trump is more one of us because, like most Americans, he is both baffled and frustrated that good government policy is always scuttled by congressional rules, procedural nonsense, backroom deals and special interests.
Congressional Republicans treat the president in much the same way they treat Republican voters; they promise to be loyal and to deliver on their promises. When the chips are down, they turn their backs, give in to the demands and bullying of the opposition and craft legislation that bears no resemblance to what was pledged.
The latest spending bill could almost have been written by Senator Chuck Schumer (D.-NY). It completely disregarded most of the president’s proposals. Massive – and sorely needed – cuts to federal agencies, most notably, the Environmental Protection Agency, were scaled down to almost nothing. No funding for the border wall was allocated and Planned Parenthood will continue to receive tax dollars.
Trump signed the bill, knowing that he and Republicans would be blamed for the government shutdown that would have resulted from the failure to agree on federal funding. What he should have done, of course, is thrown Congress to the wolves and vetoed the bill. It seems that he may have already learned that lesson. In reality, no-one suffers from a government ‘shutdown, ’ but it has become a powerful political tool. The current spending bill funds the government through September, and it is pitiful that the nation suffers through interminable bickering over short-term measures to keep an already bloated bureaucracy afloat.
The president took to Twitter Tuesday to shame the system and indicate that he may not be so flexible, next time around. In a pair of tweets, Trump said “The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We…. either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good “shutdown” in September to fix mess!”
Since there exists a good chance that the next Democrat-controlled Senate could, indeed, introduce the ‘nuclear option,’ requiring just a simple majority to pass legislation, perhaps Trump is onto something. The system is already broken; why not break it some more, in the name of getting results?
In a recent interview with Fox News, the president described the whole system of government as “an archaic system.” The left-wing media pounced on this as an attack on the Constitution, but Trump was criticizing the way the federal government conducts business. If there is one true flaw in the Constitution, it is that the Senate can make its own rules. There can be no real checks and balances between the three branches of government when one branch gets to set the very rules by which it operates – and then change those rules as it sees fit, or as the majority party dictates.
Trump expressed frustration with the glacial machinations of government in an April 12 interview with the Fox Business Network, the transcript of which was published in the Washington Post. Speaking about his continued staffing issues, Trump told Maria Bartiromo “Yes, I am waiting right now for so many people. Hundreds and hundreds of people. And then they’ll say, why isn’t Trump doing this faster? You can’t do it faster, because [Congress is] obstructing. They’re obstructionists.” He went on to say “So I have people; hundreds of people that we’re trying to get through. I mean you have…you see the backlog. We can’t get them through.”
To summarize, the president said “[So] it’s been a lousy process. It’s taken a long time to get my cabinet done. And as you know, it’s not even done now.”
Of course, it should not be expected that Congress merely rubber-stamp everything the president wants, but when the nation’s Chief Executive cannot even get his staff in place, then something is very wrong.
The system is rigged against the American people. That system is Congress. For the first time in living memory, the United States has a president who is considered an outsider by both parties and the system is also working against him. His party – if one can describe the G.O.P as ‘his party’ – has sold its soul for reasons that are not entirely clear. The Democrats, who have almost no power in Congress, are calling the shots. The stage is set for a bloodbath in 2018. Even with no constructive agenda and no real leadership, the Democratic Party may sweep into power in Congress on the back of nothing more than sheer disgust and indifference on the part of Republican voters.
Trump’s greatest failing so far has been his unwillingness to bend congressional Republicans to his will. For the sake of a second term, he will need to find a way to out-maneuver both parties in Congress. He will need to become even more anti-government.