California is descending into Third World status, with tent cities on sidewalks infested with feces and drugs. Intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies were used to negate a presidential election. State and local governments and individual federal judges are engaged in an orgy of nullification that would have made John C. Calhoun blush. Federal agencies can neither protect citizens‘ confidential information, nor secure high-profile federal prisoners like Jeffrey Epstein. Local busybodies fail to protect kids in their schools and municipal employees in their workplaces and bridges under construction from falling on traffic, and yet they scurry to shield the children from offensive Halloween costumes and festivities. Adolescent brains are fried by marijuana for the higher good of increasing state revenues. Federal assumption of control over most post-secondary tuition lending has created a huge debt crisis. Local governments protect the rights of mentally ill and addicted vagrants while the consequences of the resulting benign neglect are foisted on innocent citizens and businesses. In the Department of State and elements of the Justice Department presidential policy and orders are treated as no more than suggestions. A nation long burdened by over-government is becoming a monument to misgovernment.
Donald Trump’s first term has demonstrated that he is unable, alone, to reverse a governmental plague of overreach, abuse, lawlessness, and incompetence. He can’t even control vast sectors of his own administration. Certainly, Trump has proven what a determined president can accomplish almost singlehandedly. It is magnificent, but it is not governing.
Some call it deceitful. Acutely dyspeptic conservative critic Ben Barrack noted that Trump operates largely independent of what is punitively his own administration to escape accountability for his failure to govern.
“The Deep State is winning. It has succeeded in putting its loyal servants in the highest positions of power within our intelligence and justice communities.
“That reality must be laid entirely at the feet of the president.
“However, just like Obama did before him, Trump is somehow able to escape accountability for the bad things he is responsible for.”
Defenestrated Beltway-based sober graybeards such as John Kelly, on the other hand, claim Trump needs their steady hand and prudent wisdom to be an effective president. Without their guidance, they suggest, he careens from verbal missteps to clumsy, off-the-cuff policy pronouncements followed by chastened reversals.
With all due respect, what Trump needs is friends in high and middling places. Since he has eschewed getting himself a dog, he should settle for competent, at least tepidly loyal, unhostile political appointees and legislators. For that reason, the 2020 Trump campaign’s principal spokesman, Trump, ought to frame the election campaign as more than Four More Years of Me Keeping America Great Around the Edges. The rub is that Trump’s ego probably can’t manage running on needing anyone’s help. Probably his best bet is to direct voters’ attention—in not only red and purple but also blue states—to the widespread government failure that can’t have escaped the attention of even the feared educated suburban women with a message like: What kind of government do you want? Against that elemental appeal, the Byzantine impeachment blather simply falls into place alongside California burning in the dark, Antifa ruling the streets of Portland, and the war on ICE as just one more manifestation of misguided and destructive government. This local focus is well-suited to the armies of rally-recruited foot soldiers that the Trump campaign is mustering.
Trump can’t settle in his second term for governing around the small default opportunities left by a hostile House, a reticent Senate, a shaky, understaffed, recalcitrant Executive Branch, and a Judiciary that, despite his unprecedented record of installing Federalist Society types, seems somehow to leave all key decisions to Resistance judges. Hard as it may be on his colossal amour propre, the president’s objectives in the forthcoming election should be to use his vast war chest to underline the widespread failure of progressive control in the states, cities, and D.C. and champion the need to elect candidates with a better idea. With success in those arenas, he can establish a governing environment more congenial and secure that will lure nervous fence-sitters off their perch and into a workable second Trump Administration. After all, if he can’t make friends, he can at least rent some for a while.