Trump the Uniter?

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Editor’s Note: The following is the second excerpt from the revised and updated edition of The Case for Trump, out Tuesday from Basic Books. You can read the first excerpt here.

So what had happened to the Democrats’ predicted blue wave that supposedly would rack up huge House majorities and win back the entire Congress? And why did not $1 billion in campaign spending and a 13–1 negative to positive ratio of NBC/MSNBC and CNN media coverage of the presidency neuter Trump or his party after two years of governance? Why did Mueller’s 22-month investigation — and its epigones from the invocation of the 25th Amendment and the Emoluments clauses to the various circuses of Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen, and Michael Avenatti — all fail to derail the Trump presidency?

The answers to those questions are thematic throughout this book. Aside from popular anguish over the way that Democratic senators had savaged Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and worries over another larger immigration caravan of asylum seekers inching toward the southern border, voters in November 2018 and would-be voters in 2020 were and still are uncomfortable with progressive politics and happy with the Trump economic boom. In statewide races of 2018, almost all hard progressive gubernatorial and senatorial candidates, from Florida to Texas, lost, if often narrowly so.

First, Trump’s economic and foreign-policy initiatives since 2017, if examined dispassionately, have been largely those of the centrist conservative agendas that have worked in the past, and have continued to do so in the present. Unlike other past flash-in-the-pan mavericks, such as former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger or Minnesota’s recent governor, Jesse Ventura, Trump adopted traditional conservative issues and learned, if belatedly, to work with the Republican Congress to enact them. In counterintuitive fashion, the provocative and often off-putting Trump proved to be a far more effective uniter of his party than had any prior elected populist maverick.

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