As post-election commentaries flood the cyber-universe, perhaps a succinct list of the Top 5 opportunities conservatives can see in the Trump election and the Top 5 concerns is useful. My objective here is not to highlight the same points most common to conservative consensus (i.e. the Scalia replacement, etc.), but to look at some of these matters in ways that may be outside the box a little but potent nonetheless.
Top Five Opportunities in a President-Elect Trump
- A Vice President Mike Pence is surely the most conservative Vice President of our lifetimes. While each of the post-war VP’s on the GOP side have had various strengths, none have been movement conservatives, and none possessed the beliefs foundation that guides Gov. Pence. The more we see of Mike Pence being empowered and influential, the better we believe for the country.
- While much emphasis has (unfairly, I believe) been put on the “conservative” wing of the so-called #NeverTrump movement, the reality is that there were a significant cabal of genuine RINO’s in that mix as well who are now effectively on an island. Some were old Bush Sr. alumni, and some were in the lobbyist-consultant-K Street class, but while many concerns legitimately persist in how a Trump Presidency will play, some of the “purge” has been good for the cause.
- The energy renaissance is not a small development in American economic life since 2010. The impact of cheaper petro-chemicals from increased natural gas liquids supply (brought about from fracking) has had a profound effect on growth throughout multiple sectors of the market, and that doesn’t even cover the broader and more commonly touted benefits of greater independence in our own fossil fuel production. What has held this renaissance back has been excessive government intervention and prevention, and President-elect Trump has the opportunity to see the energy capacity of the United States be a source of tremendous export growth, both in North America, and even around the world (natural gas). This infrastructure opportunity does not need government coddling or subsidies, and is green-friendly as natural gas is obviously the lowest carbon-emitting fossil fuel. All that is needed is to take the handcuffs of government obstruction off this sector.
- The impact of exhaustive tax reform on the economy has not been exaggerated by its proponents. A significant reduction in the corporate tax rate, accompanied by a massive simplification and flattening process (surely making some happy and some not) would be wildly stimulative for the economy, just as a significant plan for repatriation of foreign profits would be. Seeing a corporate tax reform implemented in conjunction with a middle class-friendly tax flattening has the capability of turning away recession threats in the year or two ahead, and spurring investment spending in corporate America that has been sorely lacking for years.
- It would not be enough to merely have a President who is against ObamaCare; the political environment would have to provide some sort of inroad for its repeal and replacement. The Trump election comes at a time where this is exactly how the stars have aligned. Deductible expense and premium costs have skyrocketed, and the soil is not just fertilized for a replacement to the ACA, but it is fertilized for a really, really good replacement!
Top Five Concerns in a President-Elect Trump
- While we have stated our excitement for Vice President Pence, we are concerned that President-elect Trump may tire of the good voices in his camp should they begin receiving attention and credit that disrupts his well-documented ego. We suspect it will be important that Trump’s wiser influences allow him to receive disproportionate amounts of credit to contain obvious ego fears.
- Just as much as it is good to see a certain K Street RINO camp be diminished in the halls of power, the potential entry of certain alt-right voices is a ghastly fear. The extreme voices of nationalism attached to no form of civility whatsoever simply cannot be linked to any movement worthy of the name “conservatism.” This will be a very tough needle to thread, for President-elect Trump owes some of his electoral success to voices we hope will not be present in his administration.
- The standard party lines about “fixing roads” and “rebuilding airports” and that incredible buzzword, “infrastructure,” are all well and good, but the fact of the matter is that when a Democrat has gone down this path it has meant rank Keynesian [non]stimulus, and generally has resulted in the most cronyist of consequences. President-elect Trump has made it obvious he is going down this path, and while some degree of very responsible and intentional and thoughtful fiscal investment can be justified, the idea that the shoes are about to reverse is a bit concerning. If Trump’s infrastructure stimulus flops and blows out deficits, it will be Keynesian Democrats playing the role of deficit hawks and Republicans touting the merits of excessive spending. This has the potential to be a horrifying problem if it is not executed prudently and diligently.
- The dangerous precedent of tapping “executive powers” (even where no such power legally exists) under the Obama administration has been rightly lambasted by thoughtful conservatives. Should a President Trump pick up the same mantle, will we push back just as hard?
- Forgive me if it sounds like I am still making a pre-election point, but in all seriousness, there really is a legitimate lack of clarity as to what President-elect Trump plans in matters of national security. We know he “opposes unnecessary foreign interventions,” and we also know he is “going to totally and immediately destroy ISIS.” It is rare that a Presidential candidate has ever gotten away with talking so dovishly on one hand and hawkishly on the other, without apparently disturbing the other side. Saying he “will listen to the Generals” is one thing; saying he “knows more than the Generals” is another. But having an actual worldview of foreign policy would be nice given the current climate, and “learning on the job” is a bit concerning. Our hope is that he reveals morally clear and pragmatically potent intentions in his first 100 days.
I was tempted to add a #6 to the second list regarding entitlements reform (or the lack thereof in President-elect Trump’s campaign platform), but I didn’t think the list should be inequitably weighted. There are likely many issues that could be added to both lists, and the focus now must be on assembling the highest caliber transition team and policy heads possible who possess policy gravitas and a fondness for particulars which their new boss is not well known for. Hope springs eternal.