After considering my lack of comfort with President Trump’s first 100 days, I came to the following conclusions. Please bear with me on this one – I certainly could be wrong but I think I see a pattern developing and it sure looks a lot like one we have seen before.
When Bill Clinton came to the White House in 1992, he did so on a Democrat wave based on his idea of a “Third Way” that was to be the future of the Democrat Party. This “Third Way” was embraced by the Clinton administration and that of the then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as a way to reconcile right-wing and left-wing political stances through advocating and executing a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies. As is typical for any proposed melding between progressivism and conservativism by even a New Democrat like Clinton, when progressivism is given a chance to control events, the tendency is toward far more progressive social policies and significantly less conservative economic policies.
It is far easier and faster to institute policies that satisfy the emotionally based objectives of the progressive social agenda than it is to create the economic basis to support such policies. Progressive politics is based on the politics of J. Wellington Wimpy (of the old Popeye comics), the “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” approach. That such is true should be basic reasoning. Building enough economic momentum and strength to absorb the costs of ambitious social programs takes far longer than simply passing a law or drafting a regulation.
By 1994, the New Democrat “Third Way” agenda was beginning to take on a distinct patina of the old “my way or the highway” way of progressivism. The first major sign was the drafting of Obamacare’s precursor, Hillarycare, in 1993. Thankfully, the vaunted 40-year New Democrat majority suffered a head-on collision with Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay and the Contract with America and was over in less than 3 years (maybe the Democrat oracles of the period meant their majority was measured in dog years). Gingrich and Delay (with the help of Rush Limbaugh and the rise of conservative talk radio) built a yuge barrier across the Taggert Transcontinental Railway and successful derailed the New Democrat Express.
In a way, the same situation is shaping up now, some 23 years later – except this time the purveyor of a “Third Way” is Donald J. Trump and his crop of New Republicans.
In ideology and practice, there is little difference between the so-called “populism” of President Trump and the “Third Way” of Bill Clinton. Both Clinton and Trump have indicated they wanted to eschew traditional left vs. right politics in favor of making a deal between the two. Trump came to power in a very similar “cult of personality” way as his predecessor, Barack Obama, but all indications to this point seem to indicate his governing modus operandi has Clintonian DNA embedded in it.
America has no Tom Delay’s or Newt Gingrich’s in Congress today. Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are no barrier builders. They are Republican “Third Wayers”, determined to just switch the train off the track onto a siding and let it keep going around the small barrier that Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Justin Amash and the House Freedom Caucus nominally piled up.
The conservative wing of the Republican party has been decimated and sidelined by a persistent wave of politics of personal destruction. As we speak, Jim DeMint and the Heritage Foundation is under attack and the right-wing’s largest megaphone for two decades, Fox News, is being taken apart piece by piece to be sold to the progressive mainstream media for scrap. The dismantling of Fox News is being accomplished by social justice warriors who gave up on attacking the organization and went after its individual stars. Since the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991, the progressive left has been hammering the meme into the popular mind that where conservatives are concerned “it isn’t whether they did it or not, it is the seriousness of the charge that matters.” I personally have no idea what Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly or any other person at Fox News did but all it took were public allegations and a few lawsuits to get rid of them. To think that bad behavior is only inherent at Fox is folly – I would bet that similar “harassment” is present at the other networks but progressive women (even radical feminists) are less likely to complain of such conduct if they believe their superiors are committed to the progressive agenda.
Therein lies the problem for conservatives. The first attempt at a Democrat “Third Way” was met by strong, principled, Republican conservative #resistance. This time, the Republican “Third Way” is being supported by Democrats and a wave of Republican progressive support. From the lack of an immediate “repeal and replace” of Obamacare after having almost 8 years to formulate a plan to the passage of budget busting (if we had a budget) Omnibus Spending bill filled with progressive Democrat goodies, it seems clear that that this “Third Way” may well turn into a “Third Wave”, a veritable tsunami of progressivism if stiff conservative spines don’t get engaged.
The election of Donald Trump will likely be recognized as the tectonic shift that started it.