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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Republicans will ensure future success with a dose of fiscal sanity now

As we continue reflecting on the dramatic events of the Republican convention that took place a year ago this week (in Cleveland Ohio) it’s important to recognize Donald Trump was able to win the GOP presidential nomination in part because of his special connection to the working people of America.

These “Reagan Democrats” (especially concentrated in the rust belt states and in the upper Midwest) instantly took to Trump’s promises to finally do something about illegal immigration and to renegotiate trade agreements Trump and jobsthat many saw as depriving them of their jobs and speeding the decline of the cities and towns they’d called home their whole lives.

These Second Amendment favoring, church-attending citizens returned the love whenever Trump spoke admiringly of the working class. There was a natural affiliation between the wealthy New York real estate developer and people who work with their hands for a living. Political scientists will no doubt spend endless future hours trying to explain why it came to be.

But there’s little doubt a lot of this affinity for Trump had to do with being utterly repelled by Hillary Clinton, the shrill figurehead of the hated Washington establishment who spoke high-mindedly of representing everyone in America yet insulted about one-quarter of its voters with one simple word that’s not even found in any dictionary – “deplorables.”

Making sure to quote her accurately, Hillary said to a room full of supporters last September, “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? [Laughter/applause]. The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric. Now some of those folks, they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

Not America? Basically Clinton was saying if you don’t believe just as the elites do it casts you out of society. Her logic is wholly twisted: sure, Hillary claims Trump’s rhetoric is “hateful” yet her calling tens of millions of people “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic…” is supposed to be an act of love, right? The words are just terms of endearment between friends…everyone should think this way, then Hillary would welcome us into her circle.

Unfortunately for Hillary those “irredeemable” tens of millions did take offense at her words and in their “deplorable” nature turned out to vote on Election Day, most notably in large enough numbers to bust a huge hole in the electoral “blue wall” and deliver Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to Trump.

The question for Democrats now is whether they can repair relations with the Trump-backing “deplorables” – or if they should even try to do it.

Kay S. Hymowitz wrote at National Review, “No Democrat on the scene today possesses the Lincolnesque political skills to persuade liberal voters to give up their assumptions of white deplorability, endorse assimilation, or back traditional civics education. In the current environment, a Democratic civics curriculum would teach that American institutions are vehicles for the transmission of white supremacy and sexism, hardly a route to social cohesion. As for assimilation, Hispanic and bilingual-education advocacy organizations would threaten a revolt — and they’d only be the first to sound the alarm.

“Appeasing deplorables may yet prove unnecessary, though. Democrats’ strategy of awaiting ‘inevitable’ demographic change in the electorate, combined with the hope that Trump and the Republican Congress will commit major unforced errors, may allow the party to regain control of the country without making any concessions to the large portion of the U.S. population whom they appear to despise.”

Hymowitz makes a number of good points. Should the Democrats even attempt to woo back the white working class that as recently as two decades ago they seemed to dominate under the presidency of Bill Clinton, they will alienate a great many of their current activists who depend on selling the notion that such people are “irredeemable” and simply cling to their guns and Bibles because they don’t have anything better to do with their lives (such as demonstrating for worthwhile causes like transgender bathrooms and against Voter ID laws).

I think Democrats miscalculate here for a number of reasons, the most important probably being their overreliance on demographic shifts to ensure their future electability. For example, Hispanic immigrants vote Democrat in large percentages but the numbers drop dramatically once they get into succeeding generations.

And like for everyone else, if Trump succeeds in increasing economic growth the way he intends to it will create the type of Reagan-like prosperity that could sway future party loyalty. It also shouldn’t be discounted that Trump is serious about rebuilding infrastructure and improving the lot of people in the inner cities through programs such as school choice.

All of it will take money, of course, which isn’t exactly in the greatest supply these days with a national debt about to breach 20 trillion dollars.

Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, wrote last week that it’s really all about MAGAnomics. “MAGAnomics is for everyone, but especially for those who left for work this morning in the dark but came home after their kids were asleep. It’s for those who are working part-time but praying for a full-time job. It’s for folks whose savings are as exhausted as they are. This president hears you. He knows America’s greatness doesn’t spring from higher taxes or unnecessary regulations or broken welfare programs. It doesn’t come from government at all. It comes from you.

“If we enact the president’s broad agenda—if MAGAnomics is allowed to work—we will have set the stage for the greatest revival of the American economy since the early 1980s. It will remind people—including those who have forgotten, or those who don’t want you to remember—what a great America means. That is driving everything we do.”

In his editorial Mulvaney discusses the administration’s plans concerning tax reform; curbing unnecessary regulation; welfare reform; smart energy strategy; rebuilding America's infrastructure; fair trade for America, and government spending restraint.

All of these proposals require significant buy-in and input from Congress, but hopefully if and when healthcare reform passes it will open the floodgates to more collaboration within the GOP and allow Republicans to demonstrate their eagerness to act on an agenda rather than merely making grandiose promises that they don’t intend to keep when given the opportunity.

That’s what Democrats do; but the minority party members keep their promises to their constituencies through unlocking the doors to the federal treasury. That’s no way to govern.

At the same time, Republicans had better hope Mulvaney’s MAGAnomics works to grow the economy (and bring in more revenue) because right now they’re not showing much spending restraint.

James Arkin wrote in Real Clear Politics, “[W]ith control of Congress and the White House, Republicans are grappling with a simple reality: When it comes to bringing sanity back into the federal government’s fiscal policies, campaigning is easier than governing. No sound bite will fix two decades’ worth of avoiding hard choices...

“The hesitation from some in the conference has frustrated budget hawks, many of whom have railed against higher spending since joining Congress during the Tea Party waves of 2010 and 2012. Rep. Mark Walker, the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said it was ‘hypocritical’ to preach fiscal responsibility but back higher spending. He polled dozens of RSC members before the Fourth of July recess and said the vast majority backed at least $200 billion to $300 billion in mandatory cuts.”

Hypocritical indeed. The establishment Republican leadership always campaigns on “cutting” spending but when push comes to shove they end up funding every liberal program the Democrats dream up in exchange for leeway on expanding the defense budget.

Whatever happened to the concept of across-the-board spending reductions such as Sen. Mike Enzi’s “penny plan” (made famous by Sen. Rand Paul), which would cut the federal budget by one percent each year until it’s balanced? Can’t federal agencies get by with 99 cents on every dollar the next year? What’s more important politically, maintaining the current bloat and waste or proving to voters you’re working seriously to pay down the debt?

Making hard choices is something even the “deplorables” understand. Family budgets have not increased in years and the hope of something better is what drove tens of millions to vote for Trump. If Republicans are to keep their majorities in the future they need to remember that now.

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