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Outsiders vs. Insiders: 2018’s political wars could make 2017’s seem like minor skirmishes

An old saying goes “you shouldn’t rest on your laurels,” but what does it really entail?

The dictionary indicates the phrase means, “stopping of work or activity – a state or period of refreshing freedom from exertion.” Another definition reads, “To ‘rest on your laurels’ means that you get lazy or Trump tweetcomplacent about what you could achieve because you’re too busy basking in the memories of former glories.”

The saying dates back to ancient Greece but it certainly still applies to the political situation in 2018. Conservatives and Republicans covered a lot of ground in 2017 but there’re miles to go to turn the bulk of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises into policies with the force of law. No amount of “laurels” to rest on should provide Republicans the comforting belief they can stop now. If anything, the base foundation has been laid for making America great again but the “resistance” is more than motivated and there’s a critical election now just eleven months hence.

There are many things to be happy about when recalling the year just concluded but there’s no reason why conservatives shouldn’t aim even higher in 2018. Carrie Sheffield wrote last week in The Hill, “Whether it’s stellar judicial nominees (at all levels), tax reform, Internet freedom, energy policy and foreign policy developments like defeating ISIS, Jerusalem’s embassy designation and North Korea sanctions, the Trump administration repeatedly made right policy calls in 2017. I hope these policy calls continue in 2018…

“While political correctness had reared its pernicious head in abundantly manifested ways, the corresponding bombastic, overheated political rhetoric of the past two years needn’t overshadow our discourse in 2018. The political sea change that was Donald Trump in 2016 created an opening for solutions-oriented conservatives to unabashedly show American voters how limited government, competitive markets and robust but realistic foreign policy will make us freer, safer and more prosperous.”

Yes indeed; America is now nearly a year into the unparalleled experiment of voting in a non-politician outsider to manage and lead the federal government – and the proverbial jury is still deliberating on the merits of such a choice. 2016 demonstrated that Trump was able to inspire a new electoral coalition to win the presidency, but citizens also discovered just how weak of a candidate Hillary Clinton proved to be after the election. Democrats frequently asked whether the result might have been different if they’d only nominated a candidate who wasn’t so mired in sleaze; but we can’t go back – nor would most sane people want to.

Instead of moving closer to the center to try and recapture some of its working class voters in 2017 the minority party cut loose the ropes that formerly tethered it to the common sense dock and drifted hopelessly away from any semblance of “bipartisanship.” The Democrats are unquestionably now the political home of the rich and powerful combined with ethnic voting blocs who remain loyal despite the absence of a true party agenda and offering little hope for future improvements other than the tenuous promise of impeaching Trump.

If the Democrats weren’t desperate then why would they continue clinging to the hapless Mueller investigation which is revealing more about the internal corruption and lawlessness of the deep state intelligence agencies than it is about alleged Trump campaign misdeeds?

Democrats’ demagoguery over tax reform was legendary with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer leaping over the edge in describing their displeasure with the concept. Sooner or later more Americans will recognize the Democrat congressional delegation is made up of a bunch of wealthy elitist hypocrites masquerading as modern day Robin Hoods.

Roger L. Simon wrote pointedly last week at PJ Media, “Of course, the media will then yell and scream (already are) that these cuts expire in six or seven years, even though these same ‘journalists’ will not deign to explain why that's so -- assuming they're smart enough to know the Senate rules -- or to admit that the cuts can be extended at the time of expiry and in all probability will be.

“Meanwhile, lower corporate tax rates will stimulate billions in American company profits repatriating to this country to be used for the ‘jobs and growth’ about which Pelosi was so allegedly skeptical.  (She was probably panicking it would be true.)

“What Schumer, Pelosi and their (also rich) media claque are relying on is nothing less than the failure of America.  If the average American gets screwed, then they win. When that same average American starts to figure out the game they're playing on them, those average Americans (i. e. voters) are likely to be angry, very angry.”

The irony associated with the Democrats’ post-tax bill puffery concerns their repeated assertions throughout the past year that Trump only won the election because his voters were “angry” at the prospect of having had a black president for eight years -- so they rose up to champion a bombastic billionaire who spoke brazenly of immigrants while protecting the privileged GOP corporate class.

Who’s angry now?

In one sense Democrats were right; people were plenty “angry” at the economic and cultural decline of the country brought about by the prior regime. These “forgotten” Americans were weary of hearing about how coal mining was ruining the climate or that their manufacturing jobs were forever lost to overseas competitors who pay their workers pennies and hoodwink the U.S. government with unfair trade practices and get away with it.

People were equally fed up with the wink-wink nature of Obama’s foreign policy where the former president refused to identify the enemy by name; America’s adversaries took full advantage of the Obama administration’s fecklessness by trodding all over our interests with little to fear in terms of retribution. Folks in flyover country who still believed in America First and American exceptionalism weren’t about to let the dream die because a bunch of ruling class elites gathered in some university faculty lounge decided the Constitution was the problem and they were the ones who really knew best.

Such grassroots passion showed itself on Election Day, 2016. The “deplorables” took Clinton and the Democrats at their word and elected someone who wasn’t afraid to articulate in public the same things they were discussing around their dinner tables at home. They appreciated the fact Donald Trump wrapped himself in the American flag – it was about time someone did.

The Republican majorities in Congress resisted the Trump movement for a time but “woke up” at the end of 2017 to pass the tax reform bill. No one was 100% satisfied with its final provisions but all could agree it would do some good in helping average folks see more fruit from their labors.

In 2018, there’s still much to do, such as reform (and hopefully reduce) the federal government’s role in education. Emily Jashinsky of the Washington Examiner reported, “The Department of Education has its sights set on regulatory reform in 2018. Led by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who often speaks out against what she calls a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to education, the department is focused on reviewing rules and requirements issued by previous administrations, seeking to curb what she says is federal overreach.

“That review will involve further consideration of the Obama administration's Title IX guidelines on how campuses should handle sexual assault, which DeVos rescinded to the applause of many observers on both the Left and Right in September. A department source told the Washington Examiner they are working to have the draft rule out by March.”

Sadly it doesn’t appear DeVos is planning to move on school choice this year. Delving deeper into the federal department’s “overreach” appears to be a big enough task, though I can’t help but think something like a major school choice initiative would capture the spirit of true reform that’s desperately needed on a national level.

Gone are the days when principled Republicans talked about dissolving the Department of Education entirely, a worthy goal for those who envision a purer constitutional mission for the federal government. As long as the DOE exists, however, it might as well look to shift decision-making power back to state and local governments to control their own schools through block grants or deregulation. It appears as though some of this is getting done though again, school choice/vouchers are what would help the most.

Needless to say the GOP still trails the Democrats badly in dense minority dominated urban areas with poor educational choices. Parents in these places have little opportunity to better their children’s prospects by sending them to overcrowded schools wrought with inadequate discipline and little emphasis on mastering the core basics. Providing a choice to send their kids to private schools unburdened by the liberal education establishment would reveal a significant and visible improvement in their lives.

It’s the type of thing Trump wants to see take place; hopefully school choice will surface again at some point.

Another area of potential concentration in 2018 is immigration. Anna Giaritelli reported in the Washington Examiner, “President Trump's second year in office likely will focus on overhauling the legal immigration system, after combatting illegal immigration during his first year.

“The first 11 months of the Trump presidency were focused on enhancing border security, interior enforcement, and national security.”

As would be expected the major immigration fights in Congress in 2018 will center on the border wall, what to do about DACA and chain migration policies that threaten to overwhelm the country with unskilled immigrants who will only increase the already contentious nature of the political issue.

Democrats seem determined to make a stand over border wall funding. With the federal budget still unresolved the coming weeks will test each side’s tenacity where a physical barrier is concerned.

Democrats are gambling the public will support their wishy-washy stand on legalization for DACA recipients while also holding the government hostage over funding for the wall. The question is whether President Trump can push the establishment congressional leaders to hold firm on these important priorities. Any outright capitulation will definitely hurt the GOP at the ballot box in November.

The nature of American politics ensures almost constant conflict and 2018 promises to be no different. Republicans should be proud of the progress made in 2017 but by no means is the fight won so everyone can go home satisfied. Simply put, there won’t be any time to rest on our laurels.

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