Star Parker: Conservatives sound wake-up call in Washington
A group of 44 conservative leaders have sent a letter to all members of Congress that might be called a conservative wake-up call.
The group represents, through their various organizations, a broad array of conservative concerns. But they boil it all down to three areas that all agree need immediate legislative action.
Tax reform, which currently is in the pipeline. Bolstering our defense budget. And getting the federal budget in order through fiscal restraint.
The point these conservatives wish to drive home to Congress is that Donald Trump’s election in 2016 was not just an anti-establishment vote. It was a vote to push a crucial agenda, on which he ran, for getting out nation back toward founding principles.
If Congress fails to deliver this essential agenda, say these conservatives, raw dissatisfaction with Washington could well drive unhappy voters apathetically back home, relinquishing power to the left. This might explain Democratic victories in the most recent elections, and particularly the defeat of Republican Ed Gillespie in the race for governor in Virginia.
Gallup polls each month ask Americans, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?”
No. 1 on the list for the last several months running is “dissatisfaction with government.”
Similarly, a recent study from Harvard Business School focuses on dysfunction in Washington and how it is driving widespread public dissatisfaction.
Pew Research polling, cited in this study, shows that only 20 percent of Americans “trust the federal government always or most of the time.” For some perspective on how we’ve changed, in the early 1960s, more than 70 percent of Americans expressed trust in the federal government.
The Harvard study sums up what is driving disaffection among the voting public. “The real problem is that our political system is no longer designed to serve the public interest, and has been slowly reconfigured to benefit the private interests of gain-seeking private organizations: the political parties and their industry allies.”
Hence, the sentiment to elect an “outsider” like Trump to “drain the swamp.”
Donald Trump is the fifth American president to never have had held prior elective office. But he is the first to never have served in any public office. Three of the five, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower were generals. Herbert Hoover was a businessman, but he had been head of the U.S. Food Administration and was Secretary of Commerce before being elected president.
Donald Trump is the first American president with zero prior experience in public life. He was elected as a true outsider.
A sense among voters that they have been shut out of their own country, that Washington politics is now a spectator sport, where voters have as much influence on what is happening on the field as they have when they watch an NFL game, helped elect Trump.
Conservative leaders want to convey that the political capital of this dissatisfaction is short lived. Trump voters are looking for the agenda.
Fortunately, the president can still move things forward administratively. And, indeed, the Trump administration is getting high grades for deregulation on a broad front. This is helping to drive the current economic recovery.
But Congress needs to get into the fray.
We still need to fix health care. The Congressional Budget Office notes the dangers of our national debt, which now hovers around 100 percent of our GDP.
With Speaker Paul Ryan’s leadership, the House has just passed critically important tax reform. Now Senate leadership must herd the cats and get this passed. This first sweeping tax reform in over 30 years is vital for an economy looking for oxygen.
The election of Donald Trump was a political event without precedent in our nation’s history. Conservative leaders are sounding the alarm in Washington, reminding Congress what the 2016 election meant. And that the clock is ticking.
Star Parker is an author and president of CURE, Center for Urban Renewal and Education. Contact her at www.urbancure.org.