Politics & Policy

Good-bye, Reagan Revolution

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Trump’s decision to remove himself from the final debate was tactically brilliant.

He doesn’t do well in the debate format anyway. And his absence left Cruz as the front-runner to face multiple attacks, and it allowed the Cruz–Rubio feud over immigration — it was, as Christie pointed out, conducted in confusing Washington-speak — to damage both of their brands. Rubio had a better night, Cruz a worse night.

The chances that Trump will win Iowa and then New Hampshire and then South Carolina just increased measurably.

Polls suggest that Republicans are getting used to the idea of President Trump. An ABC poll released this week found 64 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independentthink Trump will be the nominee and 65 percent find him acceptable as the nominee, essentially the same as find Cruz (66 percent) and Rubio (67 percent) acceptable as a nominee.

Prediction: If Trump wins Iowa, he will win New Hampshire. If he wins Iowa and New Hampshire, he will win South Carolina. If he wins all three of those states, who is going to stop him from being the GOP nominee?

What does that mean for the Reagan revolution?

It means the end of that dream, and the start of something new.

Trump is no Ronald Reagan.

He is not a limited-government, constitutionalist, principled, pro–free enterprise social conservative.

#share#He is more of a European (or even South American) Big Man nationalist conservative. The more power Trump has, the more certain he is that the world will be a better place. He made billions by manipulating communications and creating, with taxpayer subsidies, real-estate enclaves that the nouveau riche loved to live in. It’s an honest living and I don’t begrudge his wealth to him, but knowledge of how to persuade rich people to live in your buildings is spectacularly unhelpful in figuring out how to jump-start the real sources of economic growth that provide good jobs to average American families. He has been a crony capitalist in the New York City of crony capitalism. That’s what he knows. He thinks you can deal your way to growth.

For Iowa Evangelicals, in particular, beware: Trump would not fight for Kim Davis, and he’s not going to fight for you when the Left comes after your schools, charities, churches, and other institutions. Not if it costs him. His Supreme Court picks will be a total gamble. And as a mother, I simply shudder at the thought of living in an America where the president engages in ranting, insulting tweets from the White House. Some people might think that’s a small thing, in part because they think the Big Man Trump will save America. Not me.

#related#Trump’s dominance of the Republican party reveals how weak today that coalition of principled conservatives — the old Reagan Revolutionaries — is. And it’s an agonizing reality — so close, we imagined, to getting the trifecta of a conservative president with a Republican Congress. Finally, the era of limited government, the real Constitution, federalism, free enterprise, economic growth, and a strong defense could begin.

If Trump wins Iowa, I do not see who emerges to contest him in New Hampshire. Too many people will still believe it’s their turn, their shot; it’s just not clear who should drop out. The divided anti-Trump vote will leave Trump the uncontested front-runner with no clear alternative candidate.

There’s still time. There’s still hope. Iowans, it is your moment of truth.

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