• Victor C. Bolles

Do Not Go Gently




“Do not go gently into that good night.”


I think that President Trump is going to follow the advice of this famous poem that I have misappropriated from Dylan Thomas. Despite sinking in the polls as the public has witnessed his mishandling of true crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the protests of George Floyd’s killing (as opposed to the crises of his own making), President Trump is blaming everyone but himself for his poor showing. He is betting everything (including the lives of his supporters) on reopening the economy as quickly as possible. But the economy is a balky thing that often does what it wants, in spite of the efforts by policy makers in Washington.

And as he continues to sink in the polls and hold sparsely attended campaign rallies, he will continue to follow the advice of Dylan Thomas as his response will be to “rage, rage against the dying of the light.” In his desperation, he will drag down the entire Republican Party along with him. Republican candidates across the country will be tainted by his tweets that will come out at a furious pace in the predawn hours while everyone else in Washington sleeps.

Democrats are licking their chops (not the one in Seattle) at the prospect of a devasting landslide come November. They still lament the lost opportunity in President Obama’s first term when they held both the House and the Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have a long list of leftist legislation that they are anxious to make into law. And Bernie Sanders and Anastasia Ocasio-Cortez will be trying to drag Chuck and Nancy even further left.

Much of the proposed legislation is designed to keep Democrats in power for many years to come. Mail-in ballots, ballot harvesting, lowering the voting age, eliminating voter IDs and defanging the Electoral College are policies designed to keep the progressives in power indefinitely. They will attempt to dismantle the checks and balances that the Founders put into the US Constitution to prevent just such wholesale changes as the Dems are proposing. They want to replace John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government with Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.

And while they are licking their chops, President Trump will be trying to remake the Republican Party in his own image. His family is deeply entrenched in the White House and in developing government policy. And Trump loyalists have replaced experienced policy experts throughout his administration. Like most populists he demands their loyalty to him personally over loyalty to the United States and its system of government.

President Trump may have the inclination, but he lacks the ability to pull off a non-Constitutional continuation in power if he should lose the election. But he still has the ability to hold the Republican Party in thrall. Even in defeat, he will not retire to one of his many golf courses. He will try and retain control over the party. He will probably try again to be the party’s presidential nominee in 2024 or will try to name one of his children to play that role. He may not be able to keep the government as a Trump family business but will try and make the Republican Party into one.

Republican leaders (if there are any) must not let that happen. And if Republicans want to have any hope of retaining at least one of the houses of Congress they need to begin to act now. They need to come up with principled political platforms and legislative proposals that truly address the very real problems that we face. These proposals need to be backed up by scientific research, not campaign rhetoric. Where scientific research is lacking, then the legislation should fund such research. Many of our most contentious issues (such as data on police violence, causation of sexual dysphoria or the impact of minimum wages) are lost in a miasma of disinformation, hyperbole and conspiracy theories.

Already voters are in revolt. Just recently, voters in Republican primary run-offs rejected Trump backed candidates. Polls show Joe Biden widening his lead nationally and in swing states. The House may be a lost cause, but the Republicans can still hold on to the Senate. Only a divided Congress can stop a progressive tsunami sweeping over the country and obliterating the American principles that have guided us since 1776.

 

Republican candidates across this country need to present an agenda that can sway conservatives, libertarians and moderates. We do not need a Trump agenda. Or even a Bush or Reagan agenda. We need a Lincoln agenda. Here are my thoughts on the matter.

Restore Trust in Government

Trust in government is at an all-time low even while many people want the government to do more and more. Trust among citizens is the most essential element necessary to maintain a democratic form of government. And we must trust that the government ordained by the people is working to fulfill the obligations outlined in the preamble to the Constitution. Instead Trump Republicans and progressive Democrats are working to divide the American people and make them distrust their fellow citizens.

Rebuild the Western Alliance

Donald Trump has done more to destroy the Western Alliance than any enemy of our Western values. He is right that America has borne a disproportionate amount of the burden of maintaining global peace and prosperity. But even though our allies have benefitted at lesser cost (in expenditures and service men and women), America has still benefitted greatly. Being a world leader encompasses more than mere accounting of expenditures and trade balances.

Immigration Reform

President Trump does not understand the role that immigration plays in our society or our economy. Everything in his universe is a zero-sum game. For me to win, you must lose. To his mind, immigrants add little to America but only take jobs from American workers. Just this week he issued an executive order extending a ban on various types of visas supposedly in order to reserve around 500,000 jobs for Americans. But immigrants add to the American economy. Look at all the immigrants that are CEOs of high tech start up companies. Barring those immigrants wouldn’t reserve those CEO jobs for Americans, because those companies would not exist. And while we are at it, we should welcome refugees from Hong Kong just like the United Kingdom is doing.

Forget about Tax Cuts

Republicans need to lose their addiction to tax cuts. The Republican mantra is that tax cuts boost economic growth while limiting the growth of government. Neither of these is true. Tax cuts are the flip side of Keynesian government spending which can provide a temporary spurt of economic activity but at a cost of increased public debt that will slow future growth. And tax cuts have done nothing to limit the growth of government which has expanded under Republican and Democratic administrations. A long-term plan to control the accelerating expansion of public debt will provide the confidence that will promote long term growth.

Address the Need for Entitlements

The Democrats are pushing for a massive expansion of entitlements and Republicans seem powerless to reform existing entitlements, let alone stop new ones. But people will continue to demand entitlements as long as they believe that the free market economy is not providing them an equal opportunity to succeed. The only way to end entitlements is to eliminate the need for entitlements. This will not be easy, but it is essential to restore the vigor of the American people that has been sapped by the nanny state. But reducing or eliminating entitlements will not work without restoring the American Social Contract that provides true equal opportunity.

Finish Reconstruction

The Republican Party was founded to stop the expansion of slavery and led a bloody Civil War to end it. It was the Republicans that passed the first Civil Rights Act in 1866 and overrode the veto of Democratic President Andrew Johnson. After the war, Republican President Grant supported the rights of freedmen and sent the Army into the South to enforce those rights. But support for Reconstruction faded over the years and Southern Democrats eroded the gains made by black freedmen with Jim Crow Laws and segregation. It is time for Republicans to retake the mantle as the champion of civil rights and finish the work of Reconstruction.

Pandemic Relief

The first wave of pandemic relief was a shotgun blast of money scattered across the country. Some of it supplied much needed help to those in great need. But much was also scattered about to little or no effect. In the next wave, relief must be focused on those in the greatest need. Tax cuts only help those who have income and therefore do not need relief. Temporary relief programs must be focused on those most impacted by the pandemic.

Education

Education cannot solve all the problems that America is facing. But none of these problems can be solved without better educating our young people to deal with a very complicated world. Expectations must be raised, and coddling minimized. Education must be liberated from the grip of unionized teachers in order to provide kids and parents with the options needed for each kid to reach their full potential.

With this agenda Republicans may be able to salvage something from the wreckage of the Trump Administration. Let’s hope they can do it, for the sake of the American people.

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