Given the status of the post-election state legislatures and executive offices, the Republican-controlled House and Senate, a Republican president, and a Supreme Court that will not go leftward for a generation, it is hard to see how conservatives could be anything other than relieved by Tuesday’s result. Even Trump’s critics must concede, one, that he incurred the right enemies, whose post-election teeth-gnashing was not unwelcome to them; two, that Phoenix-like (or to his enemies vampire-like) he was insidiously resilient, overcoming enormous odds and electioneering disasters, some self-inflicted, that would have sent most other candidates with lesser energy or purpose into therapy; and, three, that his cabinet and Supreme Court picks will likely slow the leftist trajectory of the country.
Donald Trump also did what neither Barack Obama, the Bushes, nor Mitt Romney could accomplish: He at last put the Clintons into permanent political retirement. He showed that identity politics and tribalism do not doom Republicans, that there really were “missing Romney voters,” that being politically incorrect was still a lesser sin than the censorship and restricted speech of political correctness — a fact which will have a liberating ripple effect on free expression throughout the country.
He eroded the idea of a blue wall, restored the electoral importance of fly-over America, and left the mainstream media discredited and, for a while, impotent. And odder still, he reminded us that billion-dollar campaigns that demand huge investments in ground games, polling, costly consultants, opposition research, cash bundlers, official endorsements, and celebrity entertainers — the stuff now of the Podesta WikiLeaks archive and elite liberalism — can still fail if opposed by an enthused candidate and a committed movement.
If one collates Trump’s positions on military spending, illegal immigration, taxes, regulations, the Second Amendment, the debt, abortion, fossil fuels, or Obamacare and compares them with his spats with Republicans over entitlements, trade, and foreign policy, the bridge is far greater than the abyss.
The “divider” Trump for now also leads a far more united Republican party (if indeed 90 percent of Republicans “came home” in the final days) than does the “uniter” Obama who leaves as his legacy a vastly reduced, out-of-power and soon to be strife-ridden Democratic party reduced to the municipal level that could duplicate only Obama policy failures but never his personal electoral successes. And whereas the Bushes, McCain, and Romney soberly and judiciously fended off left-wing hits, Trump, for better or worse, has created a sort of deterrence, in the sense that although he may be baited, he may also reply with megatonnage inordinate to the provocation. And that is a not necessarily a bad thing.
The worry is not Republican fratricide, but the unenviable task of applying medicine that in the short term will be more painful that the disease Trump inherits of a wrecked Middle East, a no-growth economy, huge debts, scandal-ridden agencies, racial animosity, half-a-trillion-dollar budget deficits, and near record labor-force non-participation, along with a ruined health-care system and a lunatic university system under $1 trillion in student debt — in addition to likely crises incurred by a lame-duck and recessionist president in the next 90 days.