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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Can Trump and the GOP fill America’s critical leadership vacuum?

If the anxious looks on the faces of the members of Congress are any indication the nation’s capital remains in a state of shock over the events of last week when a radicalized leftist reactionary (James T. Hodgkinson) attempted to personally take out about a tenth of the GOP congressional caucus at one time on a baseball diamond in nearby Alexandria, Virginia.

He didn’t succeed in eliminating even one Republican; but the semi-stunned atmosphere endures. Meanwhile, a tenuous détente between the two parties persists, but you can’t help but think tensions could explode at a Donald Trumpmoment’s notice. One ill-advised comment may reignite the powder keg of antagonism that’s dominated Washington for years.

Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner wrote over the weekend, “It didn't take long for House and Senate lawmakers to call for lowering the partisan hostility following Wednesday's brutal shooting spree by a gunman who first asked the party affiliation of his Republican victims before taking aim at them on an Alexandria, Va., baseball field...

“But the real test will come as lawmakers get back to business, where Republicans have accused Democrats of moving slowly on Trump's appointments and Democrats accuse Republicans of working in secret on the Senate version of the healthcare bill.

“Indeed, not long after their calls for unity, lawmakers devolved into finger pointing.”

As an example of the erosion of goodwill, Ferrechio quotes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blaming Fox News for the nation’s recent dramatic increase in polarization. Last summer during the Democrat convention Pelosi sounded similar themes in arguing white males use the “three G’s” – God, Guns and Gays – as a reason to reject Democrats and favor Donald Trump and Republicans.

Some people never learn; but we hardly imagined Pelosi would change because of what happened last Wednesday, right?

Reality will intervene in the two parties’ political love-in at some point. The state of the country’s financial house alone will prove to be one of the biggest obstacles to any bipartisan coming together. Simply put, conservatives and Republicans have a very different viewpoint than Democrats and liberals on the role of the state that is not at all compatible and reconcilable with believers in big government hegemony.

With our country’s national debt rapidly closing in on the $20 trillion mark there just isn’t sufficient money available to satisfy the appetites of all the big spenders in both parties who seek to subsidize their priorities and slush funds for their special interests. The Democrats label Republicans as cruel and inhuman whenever the suggestion is made to cut social welfare programs, a good many of which were devised and instituted decades ago and no longer justify the purpose they were created to fulfill in the first place.

Every year Americans (at least the ones who pay attention) are treated to a lengthy list of wasteful or duplicative federal programs but whenever an alternative is proposed to do something about the problem the Democrats – and some Republicans – moan and recoil as if the entire world will implode if the federal budget is trimmed by a few bucks.

Entitlement spending already consumes the majority of federal outlays and the numbers only get worse from here on out. President Trump, for all of his attributes and forward thinking, has promised not to touch entitlement programs, reasoning the conundrum of endless deficits can be alleviated through rapid economic growth and cutting the budget in virtually all areas except military spending.

Republicans, led by the neoconservative establishment contingent in the Senate (John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio) vow to blast away the sequester caps in order to appropriate more money to the armed services. But anyone who lives in the Washington DC area knows the military bureaucracy is just as large, bloated and oversized as any of the others. You could literally take an axe to the Pentagon budget and there would still be plenty left to satisfy the military’s constitutional role of defending the country.

In theory “more money for the troops” sounds like a great idea, but overextended military commitments across the globe have bled America dry. Some conservatives such as “pitchfork” Pat Buchanan have talked about the issue for years, openly questioning America’s need to continue propping up NATO and to defend in perpetuity our Pacific Rim allies after their post-WW II immediate threats were thwarted and their economies grew exponentially.

President Trump staked his campaign on new ideas in the foreign policy sphere, yet five months into his presidency American thinking abroad hasn’t really changed all that much. As soon as a potential menace in the world emerges our “allies” cry for Uncle Sam’s folks in uniform to come to their relief.

A good argument could be made that the entire concept of government needs reinvention. Former Senator and Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint has initiated an effort to do just that.

Philip Wegmann of the Washington Examiner reported last week, “DeMint has drawn up plans for an Article V Convention to propose new amendments…

“Both [DeMint and former Senator Tom Coburn] are convinced that Washington will never fix itself. And so, with three decades of congressional experience between them, the pair have decided to pursue a long-term constitutional solution rather than a temporary political fix to the federal government's challenges. Mark Meckler, co-founder of the project, explains the scheme.

“While the Constitution requires two-thirds of Congress to propose amendments, it also allows two-thirds of the states to request an amending convention. And they want to call that convention to propose good-government measures like a balanced-budget amendment to return power to the states. Already 12 states have signed onto the effort, and Meckler says he recruited the two senators to help lobby the other 22 states needed.”

The concept of a grand Article V convention is not a new one. Conservative radio host Mark Levin frequently mentions it and even wrote a book on the idea, proposing in detail a number of amendments that would, if passed, restore the original principles of the Constitution and federalism and impose real restraints on Congress and the courts to stall their never-ending drive to send our already debt-ridden republic into a moribund politically correct coma.

I’m sure if you asked fifty conservatives about the Article V convention proposal all fifty would say it’s a great idea. The problems would arise when the convention finally convened and the interstate bickering started. Can you imagine Massachusetts and Texas agreeing on an amendment to restore the rights of state legislatures to elect their own senators (therefore overturning the 17th Amendment’s popular election of senators)?

A better plan might involve inaugurating uniform rules for congressional procedure such as ditching the filibuster in the Senate (which establishes the nearly impossible to attain threshold of needing 60 votes to pass most legislation).

The elites of both parties would scream bloody murder at such a suggestion, mostly because it would mean bills could actually get passed, the budget could potentially be cut and special interests might lose their grip on power. Congressmen and senators would feel freer to vote for the good of the country rather than protecting their own pet constituencies.

But you wouldn’t necessarily need a convention to accomplish something like this. You’d just need political will now.

Some conservatives are getting angry with President Trump for not showing much “will” of his own. Daniel Chaitin of the Washington Examiner reported, “Conservative commentator Ann Coulter is getting fed up with President Trump for not keeping his campaign promises, so much so that it prompted her to call him a ‘jackass’ on Friday.

“Coulter, who was an avid Trump supporter during the 2016 campaign, sent out a series of tweets Friday critical of Trump on a number of issues, including not making progress on building a border wall with Mexico and not completely undoing ‘[former President Barack] Obama's unconstitutional executive amnesty.’”

The longtime conservative bomb-thrower also took issue with Trump’s watered-down Cuba policy. Coulter’s not sounding like a very happy camper these days.

In other words, it’s going to be extremely difficult to keep all of the competing interests satisfied in the days and weeks to come. The parties are already returning to their pre-shooting divisions and the prospects of an Article V convention remain somewhat dim.

In all of this, leadership is a necessity. Can Trump and the Republicans do the job?

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