John Nolte: Trump’s Wildly Successful First Year

John Nolte has written a triumphant “I told you so” article addressed to #NeverTrump conservatives in which he recounts President Trump’s glorious first year in the White House.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump’s problem in the polls isn’t with mainstream conservatives who as Rich Lowry and Matt Lewis have pointed out have had a pretty successful year. It is coming from the opposite ends of the Trump coalition. At one pole, there are the moderate suburbanites who can’t stand Donald Trump for class reasons. At the other pole, there are the White Nationalists and the broader group of disaffected populist voters who supported him as a change agent.

Calling Donald Trump the best president since Ronald Reagan and emphasizing his conservative accomplishments doesn’t address the problem. Many of the voters who supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election disliked conservatism. They voted for him in the primaries and general election because Donald Trump was perceived as an alternative to mainstream conservatism.

President Trump spent his first year transitioning into a conventional mainstream conservative. He has pursued traditional Republican priorities. It’s almost like Jeb Bush has been in change of policy decisions while the Donald Trump of the campaign has continued to run the Twitter account. This is enough to satisfy the Alt-Lite personality cultists (Mike Cernovich, for example, isn’t a serious person and doesn’t have an ideology), but it has been a massive disappointment for the Alt-Right.

In the hope that someone in power will read this before Trump descends below 30% in the polls, I will give you my take on John Nolte’s list of Trump accomplishments:

  • Real, honest-to-goodness tax reform and cuts — the most consequential in 30 years

The signature legislative accomplishment of Trump’s first year was ¡Jeb!’s corporate tax cut which is going to create a massive backlash and become a political albatross. It’s like they went out of their way to reinforce the stereotype that all Republicans care about is cutting taxes for wealthy donors.

  • Opening ANWR for oil exploration, an accomplishment few can appreciate who do not remember the 90s and what a sacred cow this is for the left.

I’m sure it will have a big impact on northeastern Alaska where no one lives. It’s good news, but gas prices aren’t as pressing a concern right now as in the past.

  • The Islamic State (ISIS) has been decimated.

Vladimir Putin recently declared victory over ISIS in Syria. It was Russia and Iran that beat ISIS. The geniuses who run our foreign policy said this couldn’t happen unless we took out Assad.

  • Killing the Obamacare mandate that brutalized those making less than $50,000 a year.

Now that the hated Obamacare individual mandate is gone, will healthcare become more affordable for Americans or will that too just fire up the Left without leading to any real benefit? Many people in the Alt-Right support a national healthcare system.

  • Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who has already proven himself the perfect replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia.

The jury is still out on Neil Gorsuch. In recent years, the Republican-controlled Supreme Court legalized sodomy and gay marriage, gutted Arizona’s immigration law, upheld affirmative action and disparate impact and Obamacare’s individual mandate which was repealed in the tax reform bill.

  • After a 2016 of just 1.9 percent GDP growth, we have now had two quarters in a row of growth over three percent; predictions for the final quarter of 2017 are as high as four percent.

Who benefits from the growth? Where is the growth? Is the growth in the regions of the United States that handed Donald Trump the 2016 presidential election? Is this economic growth going to be translated into wage increases or will productivity gains continue to be captured?

  • The Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines are a go — which means tens of thousands of jobs.

This was good news, but the impact it will have is exaggerated.

  • A record number of judicial appointments on the appeals courts.

As with Gorsuch, we have no idea how these federal judges will rule on important issues. Many of the worst federal judges like Anthony Kennedy have been appointed by Republicans.

  • The end of the War on Coal. A surge in coal mining after 2016’s decline.

1,200 coal mining jobs have been created under the Trump presidency.

  • The end of the federal government’s violating the religious conscience through indefensible Obamacare mandates involving birth control and abortion pills.

This has been blocked twice by federal judges.

  • The civil rights movement for school choice is getting the green light throughout the country.

I’m sure you are thrilled about all the new black kids coming to your kid’s school district for the GOP can virtue signal about how it supports civil rights.

  • Illegal immigration is way down.

Illegal immigration plunged in the first half of 2017. This wasn’t due to any major policy change. It was a temporary change in behavior on the part of illegal aliens. It seems their initial fear of the Trump administration has abated because illegal immigration has since returned to Obama levels.

  • The stock market hit record highs 70 times in 2017, rising 5,000 points for the first time ever.

This is great news for Wall Street, but it was the White working class that elected Donald Trump. 94% of the wealthiest Americans own stocks, but only 54% of Americans are investors. In 2007, 3/4ths of middle class households owned stocks, but now only half are invested in the stock market. 56% of Americans have less than $1,000 in the combing checking and savings accounts.

  • The long-overdue recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Congratulations, Sheldon Adelson and AIPAC now control our foreign policy, and as a result we have been condemned by pretty much the entire world at the United Nations. George W. Bush and Barack Obama weren’t even this deferential to the Israel Lobby.

  • We are free of the awful Paris climate treaty.

Admittedly, I don’t care about this issue. I’m sure, however, it has fired up those on the Left who do. It is going to give them another reason to vote in the 2018 midterms.

  • Regulatory reform that is just getting started, but it has already had a hugely positive effect on our economy.

We’ve been marching toward a deregulated economy since the 1970s. It is hard to say that it has been a good thing for the White working class when real wages have stagnated for decades.

  • Withdrawal from the Global Compact on Migration, which undercut American sovereignty.

It is a non-binding political declaration. This is a purely symbolic move.

  • Return of nearly two million acres to the state Utah that the federal government had stolen.

I suppose this matters to someone in Utah. Obama created the Bears Ears National Monument shortly before he left office. The feds continue to own large swathes of land in the Western states. Personally, I don’t care who owns all this land where it is too arid to live.

  • A $250 billion trade deal with China.

The trade deficit with China is up 7% in 2017. Donald Trump made a huge deal about how China was “killing us in trade.” Well, Chinese imports are at a record high.

  • Many of our NATO allies are finally paying their dues.

During the campaign, Donald Trump said that NATO was obsolete. After he became president, he stood side by side with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and declared it was “no longer obsolete.” Instead of getting rid of NATO, Donald Trump signed a treaty allowing Montenegro to join which adds to the burden of nations we are obligated to defend by international treaties.

  • Consumer confidence is the best we have seen in more than a decade.

Americans also now have the highest level of credit card debt in history.

  • Pulled us out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in favor of the American worker and sovereignty.

This is good news. The catch is that we already have free trade agreements with Canada, Mexico, Australia, Peru and Singapore. The United States also has an average import tariff of 2.0% on industrial goods. This accounts for 96% of imports half of which enter the country duty free. As far as trade policy goes, pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership hasn’t fundamentally changed anything. The container ships are still arriving on the West Coast and all the Chinese junk is still going out to the Wal-Marts.

  • Trump has managed to get China to help rein in North Korea.

In November, North Korea fired its biggest and most powerful ICBM ever and demonstrated it can hit a target anywhere in the United States.

  • Manufacturing jobs boom.

The steel industry is continuing layoffs. We don’t have the tariffs in place that could revive the industrial era economy that Trump ran on during the campaign.

  • Overall unemployment is at one percent.

The unemployment rate isn’t that low. It is good news though. What kind of jobs are being created? Are we breaking out of the long term pattern of low-wage service jobs? If that’s not the case, we are just going to have more political instability as voters lash out in pain in tantrum elections.

  • Black unemployment is at a 17-year low.

In the latest Pew poll, Donald Trump’s approval rating among blacks has been cut in half. In the recent elections in Virginia and Alabama, blacks were fired up and eager to vote for Democrats.

  • Hispanic unemployment is at an all-time low.

It should be interesting to see if those Hispanics vote for Republicans in the 2018 midterms. They are the only group whose support for Trump hasn’t wavered.

  • Promoting Christmas.

We’re still lighting a giant Menorah on the White House lawn.

  • Banning or demanding stronger vetting from countries most likely to import terrorists.

These countries are Iran, North Korea, Chad and Venezuela which don’t produce ANY terrorists. We’ve since taken Iraq and Sudan off the list. I suppose it is good news that Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen are on the travel ban list, but it doesn’t apply to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Algeria.

  • Standing up for persecuted Christian minorities in the Middle East.

Vladimir Putin stood up for persecuted Christians in the Middle East by siding with Assad, defeating ISIS and ending the Syrian civil war which the US attempted to reinflame.

  • Housing sales are at an 11-year high.

In China, 70% of Millennials own a home compared to only 53% in the United States.

  • Ban on transgender military recruits.

This was a token gesture and it was shot down by the federal courts. Transsexuals can enlist in the US military beginning January 1st.

Final Thoughts

I’m not going to be a total Eeyore.

There are many things on this list like ANWR and the Keystone Pipeline which aren’t bad news. I support some of these things, but it is nothing to get excited about. It is mainly the things which aren’t on this list that we are the most angry about. WHERE IS OUR BORDER WALL?

We’re hearing that the Republican agenda in early 2018 is going to be entitlement reform, a DACA or DREAM Act amnesty and revisiting banking reform. It goes without saying that is going to be pure poison with populist voters. Good luck running on that in the 2018 midterms. The Ryan agenda is going to split Trump’s coalition, inflame the Left and lead the GOP into a political abyss.

MAGA is nothing more than 1980s Reagan nostalgia. The slogan itself is a throwback to the Reagan era. The policies are drawn from that era too: a strong national defense, confronting muh Russia, huge tax cuts, deregulation, etc. This ISN’T anything resembling “America First” in the Pat Buchanan sense.

4 Comments

  1. Ending the penalty for not buying Obamacare is a whole lot better than nothing. It helps to wash out the bitter taste left from the Obamacare betrayal. Now most of us can simply refuse to buy any medical insurance and watch it implode.

    The only other thing we all expected was much better federal judges, which even McConnell supported.

    I’d like to see strict enforcement of E-verify, and maybe the wall get going, too, in 2018. Hopefully the reform of entitlements will eliminate Section 8. Well, here’s hoping.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year all.

  2. Since (they) reversed some pipelines, all that new oil
    that would drive down gasoline costs (notice it climbing
    lately) is being shipped to europe, where big oil can sell
    it for a much larger profit…
    So… the Keystone and all that crap is a joke.

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