Bigotry is a Matter of the Heart, Not Monuments

There are two issues being conflated in the aftermath of Charlottesville, and the confusion threatens to further inflame tensions across our country. Hateful protests by white supremacists and support for historical markers and monuments are not one and the same. There is no room in our society for any form of racial supremacy group, like neo-Nazis or the klan. These horrific and repugnant people, however, are not representative of the vast majority of people who do not believe that tearing-down historical markers and monuments is the right path to national unity.

As a native South Carolinian, I supported Governor Nikki Haley’s 2015 relocation of the Confederate Battle Flag from the Statehouse to the state museum. I did so out of the firm conviction that the seat of state government should not include a flag that, for some, signals exclusion. Additionally, I believe that the only flags that should fly over the people’s house are active flags, namely the American and South Carolinian. This conviction does not mean, however, that I support scrubbing the past from public view.

I said at the time that the Confederate Flag was moved from the Statehouse grounds that we needed to now let the past be the past. History is full of nuance and nonconformities; it is almost never a matter of all good or all evil when it comes to human beings. That being said, not everyone who fought for the Confederacy was an entrenched racist, nor was everyone who fought for the Union an ardent abolitionist. As such, the removal of statues and monuments to American founders, or Civil War era leaders, is fraught with political peril.

Take Robert E. Lee, for example. He is revered by a multitude, reviled by many, and misunderstood by most. He is a man who fought more for his native state than racist nativism, and his statements on slavery are contradictory. In a letter to his wife in 1856, Lee wrote that “There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil.” Nevertheless, he himself owned slaves until freeing them in 1862, and did precious little to bring about abolition. Likewise, the family of Union General U.S. Grant owned slaves until emancipation in 1865.

No rational or honorable person can justify the abhorrent evil of slavery in American history. The so-called “peculiar institution” was the original sin of our nation’s otherwise noble founding, and one that certainly helped spur a war that cost 620,000 American lives. The notion that erasing all history from the Antebellum period, however, is not the solution. As former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently said “When you start wiping out your history, sanitizing your history to make you feel better, it’s a bad thing.” We should, instead, learn lessons, good and bad, from our nation’s past.

Our nation’s history is full of complex men and women who were, simultaneously, noble and savages. Both honorable and horrible. Such is the nature of human history, and all nations founded by fallen human beings. Like the nation’s first president, George Washington, who held slaves he later freed, the nation overcame its own fatal flaw of slavery to form a more perfect Union. The Judeo-Christian Value system of our nation, ultimately, led to the abolition of slavery and to the successful Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. As Secretary Rice eloquently stated “What we should celebrate is that from the Jeffersons and the Washingtons as slave owners, look at where we are now.”

America is a beautiful work in progress, founded on the fundamental principle “that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

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The Alt-Right Doesn’t Speak for Me; Conservative Principles Aren’t for Whites Only

The disgusting race riots we have witnessed in Charlottesville, Virginia, have been revolting for a range of reasons. The so-called “alt-right” has sought to hijack the conservative mantle and make it about ethnicity instead of ideas. Most left-leaning media outlets have tried to make the alt-right rioters, and klansmen, spokespersons for the Republican National Committee. Neither of these things are true. It is now necessary for leaders of the conservative movement to make-clear that the alt-right is not right, and being Republican is not racist.

That was the point I tried to drive-home yesterday on Fox News. Liberal politicians have generally used the unrest in Virginia to paint all Republicans into the corner on race. This is wrong and hypocritical. Where were these same liberal finger-wavers when riotous protesters last year were calling for the murder of law-enforcement officers and calling police “pigs in a blanket? Would Democrats want to be painted by such a broad brush?

Our politics must not be dominated by race; it must again be about ideas. My message to the alt-right is clear: you don’t speak for me or American conservatives. Conservatives stand for freedom, but you stand for racial fascism. Conservative ideas aren’t just for white people, but are the principles needed for all Americans to prosper.

The central tenet of the American founding is that “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” That credo, contained in our Declaration of Independence, is the heart of who we are as a people. Both parties, and all political leaders, must work to foster a conversation in our country about our shared American identity, consensus values, and common dreams. Conservatism can drive that conversation, so long as we make clear that conservatism is not specific to color.

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Blame One on The Gipper: How the WaPo Blamed the North Korean Crisis on Ronald Reagan

As the world watches with baited breath to see what will unfold in North Korea, the Washington Post is busy blaming America’s 40th President for our present problems. Grenada is a small island of only around 100,000 citizens, but in 1983 Stalinists overthrew the already communist government of this Caribbean island and threatened the lives of 600 U.S. citizens, many of them college students. Reagan acted to deter communist destabilization of the entire Caribbean, and to protect the lives of American citizens. To hear the Washington Post, however, the imperialist Reagan pushed the Kim dynasty to nuclear weapons for self-defense.

In typical Marxist fashion, the WaPo article ascribes the evil intent to the American President, not to communist dictators who murder their own people. The main idea of the article reads as follows: “In October 1983, the United States invaded Grenada. The Kim family regime that controls North Korea saw this invasion as an early warning sign: If the United States could perceive even a small spice island as a threat, so too could it eventually train its sights on North Korea.” As you see, poor Kim didn’t have a choice but to nuke-up with a nut like Reagan in the White House.

This sort of anti-American sentiment is why most Americans no longer trust the news media. Instead of reporting actual news, papers like the Post like to pimp articles that paint Republican presidents as war-mongering imperialists hell-bent on global domination. Never-mind the fact that Democrat presidents like Barack Obama have backed coups against dictators like Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, only to allow the Jihadist group Muslim Brotherhood to gain power, and have run guns to Mexican drug cartels to score political points. This sort of drive-by political hit-piece against a dead president is unconscionable.

Maybe American liberals should learn from appeasement failures of the past, instead of claiming that conservative commanders-in-chief are causing global mayhem. When British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain claimed he had made peace with Hitler, Hitler invaded Poland and later bombed Britain itself. While Bill Clinton dithered, and got-off in the Oval Office, North Korea went nuclear. Those things were not the fault of conservatives like Winston Churchill or Ronald Reagan. Communist dictatorships, like the Kim dynasty, pursue nuclear weapons for one purpose: global domination and advancement of the communist revolution, not self-defense. The very thing that the WaPo implies Reagan was, an imperialist, is exactly what every communist dictator in history has actually been. The North Korean nutcase is no different.

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Sequestration is Saving No Money, While Making a Mess of our Military

The Budget Control Act of 2011, a.k.a “Sequestration” was an ill-conceived idea to try and force the 112th Congress into some sense of fiscal responsibility. The deficit in the early Obama years regularly topped $1 trillion per year, and after Republicans won the House in the 2010 midterms there was little agreement on how to control deficit spending. The Republican House and the Democrat Senate could not agree on spending reductions, and President Obama didn’t want any spending reductions at all. Barack Obama re­fused to ad­dress the deficit prob­lem so, in­stead, he made a deal with then-Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid and then- House Speaker John Boehner to try and eke-out some savings in the 33% of the Federal budget that is considered discretionary.

The primary driver of the federal deficit, entitlement spending, was left unaffected by the sequester, but other social programs and defense spending is included in the discretionary budget. The Sequester mandated $1.2 trillion in meaningless spending “reductions” that never truly materialized. Instead of reducing actual spending levels, the sequester merely slowed the growth of overall spending and perpetuated a game of budgetary chicken. Fifty percent of the spending reductions were targeted at defense spending, though defense spending accounts for only sixteen percent of overall federal spending. By playing chicken with military funding, our Navy is severely underfunded and our military readiness is undermined.

In order to rebuild American military and economic might, the sequester must be replaced by a real plan for entitlement reform, not budgetary inconsistency in defense spending. One of the primary roles and purposes of the federal government is to provide for national defense, and yet Washington is willing to cut defense spending in favor of paying for social programs that politicians believe will contribute to their career longevity. This is why I support term limits for every office, but that is a topic for another day. If Congress does not reform Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, not only will those programs fiscally fail, but they will drag the national economy down with them.

It is past time for Congress to move toward a public-private partnership on Medicaid and Medicare, to defray the direct costs borne by taxpayers, and to move toward a public- private option on Social Security that will ensure future generations a secure retirement. By taking these bold actions, Congress could cut overall federal spending, balance the budget, and begin fully funding our military to meet the symmetrical and asymmetrical threats facing us in the second and third decades of the twenty-first century.

Of course, all of these ideas that can right our fiscal ship and rebuild our military require some sense of courage and responsibility on the part of Congress. Given their utter failure to enact any meaningful legislation since winning total Republican control of Washington last year may make my recommendations seem like wishful thinking, but circumstances and mathematics will eventually make Congress think beyond the next election to the next generation. Or so we pray.

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It’s Almost Football Season and Congressional Republicans Aren’t Even Close to the End Zone on Anything

Many conservatives, myself included, find President Trump’s personality off-putting, but that does not mean that we don’t support much of what he is trying to accomplish. Congress would do well to remember, as they go into their undeserved August recess, that they are still less-popular than the President. Americans are annoyed by President Trump’s amateurish behavior and White House “palace intrigue,” but we are angry, nay furious, at our do-nothing Congress. Like the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz, the GOP caucus in Congress has no courage. We, the people, began electing Republican majorities in droves all the way back in 2010 on the promise that they would stop Obamacare, and they have lied to us for seven years.

After seven months of total Republican control of Washington, it is an understatement to say that Congress has failed. President Trump certainly has not helped matters much with the constant circus at the White House, but Congress bears the ultimate brunt of responsibility when it comes to the failure of Obamacare repeal, inaction on tax reform, and no movement on balancing the federal budget. Unlike the immensely successful Republican majority led by Newt Gingrich in the 1990s, which forced a Democrat President to sign some very conservative legislation, our current bunch of cowards cannot even pass a bill with a President of their own party on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

If Congressional Republicans do not step-up and lead in spite of the White House drama, Democrats will take Congress next year and it will be the end of this amazing opportunity for good governance. Instead of leading the conservative cause at this critical hour, Congress is using the President’s problems as cover for its on uselessness. While President Trump is not a Reagan-style consensus builder, he is still willing to sign an Obamacare repeal, a balanced budget, and tax relief. What Congress is doing, or more appropriately not doing, amazes me; it looks like they were more willing to give President Obama what he wanted than they are to work with President Trump to give the American people what we want.

Yesterday Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) suggested that Congress should take the lead on policy. The senior senator from Texas told reporters “Historically, it hasn’t always been the case that the president is the one who sets the policy and Congress responds. It was that Congress led. And I think this is the opportunity we have now and I welcome that.” Frankly, Senator, all that American voters care about at this moment is that real work be completed that improves their lives, regardless of whether it is the White House or Congress that calls the plays. All that most Americans see is that it is almost football season and Republicans in Washington have yet to enter the end zone on any signature policy promises.

If Congressional Republicans continue to fumble this opportunity to repeal Obamacare, cut taxes, reduce spending, and clean-up the culture of corruption in Washington, they will lose their majority. Beyond losing their majority, they will lose the confidence of the American people, which is even harder to ever recover. I hope that Senator Cornyn’s prediction comes true, and that the Republican Congress will ignore the chaos coming out of the White House and pass conservative reforms. For all of President Trump’s faults, he will certainly signs their bills, something that could not be said of his predecessor.

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Put Down the Burger Or Die. New Healthcare Rationing in England

As Republicans in Washington continue to cave into acceptance of Obamacare, and Democrats are openly flirting with a single-payer system, the British National Health Service (NHS) is issuing new directives rationing care to its citizens. There is no better example on Earth of the failure of socialized medicine than the NHS, which has been plagued by chronic shortages, substandard care, and dangerous rationing. Last week we witnessed the heart-wrenching death of little Charlie Gard, who was left to die by the NHS, and this week the U.K. Telegraph is reporting that the NHS is now cutting-off access to surgical procedures depending on a person’s body mass index (BMI).

Denying surgical access to obese persons and people who smoke embodies the concept of death panels. According to the Telegraph “Hospital leaders in North Yorkshire said that patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above- as well as smokers – will be barred from most surgery for up to a year amid increasingly desperate measures to plug a funding black hole. The restrictions will apply to standard hip and knee operations.” Wowzer! That puts into print what we already intuitively knew about socialized medicine: the group that pays determines who stays. If you are not politically connected, in perfect health, or wealthy, you may as well get your last will and testament in order. A single-payer system is too expensive to maintain without rationing, and rationing puts a price on human life.

I understand and agree that there should be incentives for making good health choices, but it should not be a matter of life or death. In a free-market system, persons who have high BMI numbers, or who have a proclivity to smoke a pack a day, will pay a higher health insurance premium than those who do not. This sort of system would economically incentivize better health decisions, without denying people medical care. Healthcare is, like most things, a limited commodity that has to be allocated in some form or fashion as supply will always struggle to keep-up with demand. The two ways it will be allocated are by price point, in a free market system, or by rationing in a socialized system. In short, in a free-market system bad health choices will just cost you more money, in socialized medicine they may well cost you your life.

For Republicans, with regard to Obamacare, failure is not an option. If Obamacare is not repealed, a future Democrat President and Congress will likely move our country to a single-payer system like the NHS in England. The result of single-payer healthcare in America would be the loss of personal autonomy, personal responsibility, and the concept of the inherent dignity of every individual. This is too high a price to pay for the false sense of security socialized medicine may provide. Just ask people in England who like to eat cheeseburgers how that “free healthcare” is working-out for them.

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Win One for Charlie: A Rallying Cry for Wimpy Republicans

Last week a sweet little boy named Charlie Gard died in England before he could reach his first birthday, and in spite of his parents’ tireless efforts to save him. Little Charlie died from extremely rare mitochondrial depletion syndrome, which afflicts only a handful of people in the world, but he also suffered at the hands of Britain’s socialized medical system. From the outset, Charlie’s parents wanted to bring him to America to seek an experimental treatment that may have been able to save their son’s life, but were denied by English courts that opportunity.

The sad story of Charlie Gard should serve as a cautionary tale of single payer medical care. The British National Health Service (NHS), which runs all medical facilities in England, is the template congressional Democrats have used as a basis for their own socialized medicine scheme. This ought to be worrisome to all Americans, as even British health officials are warning of the impending implosion of the NHS, and the human misery that it is inflicting. Alan Taman, who represents the doctors of the NHS told the UK Telegraph that “the NHS isn’t just creaking under the strain, it’s falling apart. The figures mirror a massive increase in human misery and anyone who sees them should hear the pain.”

Overcrowded and underfunded, British hospitals and clinics cannot provide quality care for its citizens. The result is that healthcare providers aren’t able to seek the patient’s highest good, but that which is expedient and cost-effective. This is the problem that expedited the death of Charlie Gard; the British NHS needed the bed, and they were not going to waste any more time on one chronically ill little boy. While Charlie was the world to his parents, he was just a number to the NHS. It is fair to say that, under a single payer system, hospital administrators have become a de facto death panel.

The warnings we are witnessing across the pond ought to prod feckless Republicans in Congress to act to repeal Obamacare. If Republicans fail to repeal it now, Obamacare will morph into a single-payer system like England’s. As the Democrat leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said last week: “Single payer is on the table” in the Democratic agenda. Little Charlie Gard’s parents saw America as the only healthcare system on Earth able to save their son, though a British court would not allow them to take him here for help. If Chuck Schumer and his party has their way, America will be no different than England, and our children will be equally mistreated and seen as state property.

Republicans get off your butts.

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Weird Isn’t Working, Maybe the White House Should Try Normal for a While

Conservatives generally want President Trump to succeed, because the alternative is more of what we are already witnessing: a complete breakdown of the Republican agenda at the national level. The soap opera that the Administration has become, and the useless entity Congress is under its currently incompetent leadership, is disheartening. Obamacare continues to collapse under its own weight, the deficit continues to soar, and the few policy victories that are eked-out of this circus are drown-out by outbursts like the White House Communications Director verbally assaulting the White House Chief of Staff to a New York reporter.

Conservatives have had it, and they are throwing-up their hands at Washington’s dysfunction. For all the bluster in 2016 by candidate Trump that “I am your voice; I alone can fix it; I will restore law and order,” none of this is happening. The first six months of complete Republican control of Washington has been a near total wash-out, and Democrats are emboldened while conservatives are watching a golden opportunity to govern completely collapse. Even the President’s staunchest media allies, like Laura Ingraham who basically turned her show into the Trump News Network, have begun to lament the chaos that is killing the conservative agenda.

To right the ship, the President needs to immediately cease this public feud that he is having with his own Attorney General. Jeff Sessions was a Trump supporter while most people still considered him a long shot, and the then-Alabama Senator’s endorsement gave conservative credibility to Trump’s candidacy. For the President to publicly attack Sessions is a disturbing act of disloyalty that is giving other Cabinet members second thoughts about staying on for the long-term.

Instead of trying to force-out Jeff Sessions, the President needs to put his own kids to pasture. Son-in-law turned senior advisor, Jared Kushner, is a liberal loose cannon who is not good for his father-in-law. From lying about his activities during the campaign, to trying to push the President to the political middle, Kushner is remarkably out-of-touch with the President’s political base. By having him serve as the President’s chief consigliere, the President is running the risk of undermining the confidence of the conservative base that elected him.

Additionally, the President needs to normalize his White House communications strategy. Hiring Anthony Scaramucci may have seemed like pressing the reset button, but the chaos has only gotten worse. The Mooch’s cursing tirades, public humiliation of other Administration officials, and personal grandstanding has only further distracted from the President’s agenda. For the President to allow this charade to continue can serve no other purpose than take the White House further off-message, which will continue to give Congress cover while it does nothing.

In summary, the President just needs to start acting, and communicating, like a President. Take, for example, his decision this week regarding President Obama’s policy toward transgenders in the military. I believe that ending the Obama-era political correctness in the military is the right thing to do for the country, but that such a change should not have been announced via Twitter. In order to make an effective change, with presidential decorum, the President should have issued an executive order to his Secretary of Defense outlining how his desired policy change should be implemented. Such protocol would show a principled leadership style, and would have gone a long way toward deflecting the confusion on display when the Joint Chiefs said that they had no directions from the Commander-In-Chief.

President Trump needs to start implementing the right policies in the right way, to ensure that he does not become a lame-duck president mid-way through his first term. Republicans in Congress are in trouble come next November, if they and President do not start delivering on key campaign promises in the immediate near term. This a price America cannot afford to pay because of unprincipled leadership at a crucial moment in history. President Trump has tried weird, maybe it’s now time to give normalcy a chance so that he can do extraordinary things for America.

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White House Shake-Up Must Not Stop With Sean Spicer

The White House shake-up has begun, and pundits and politicos inside the beltway are debating its uncertain end result. The President’s appointment of former Goldman Sachs executive Anthony Scaramucci as White House Communications Director set-off a chain of reactions in the West Wing on Friday, resulting in the resignation of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and the naming of Sarah Huckabee Sanders as his replacement at the podium. Political insiders hope that Scaramucci’s appointment will recalibrate the White House’s communications problem, and kick-start a stalled agenda, but I believe the problem is deeper than just who handles the press.

The key to a good communications strategy is a clear policy agenda that outlines priorities important to the American people. Messaging only matters if the underlying ideas being sold are plausible and popular. No amount of media can make-up for an incoherent agenda that is not understood broadly by the electorate. As former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said this week, “Coke believes that after 130 years, consumers still need to hear about Coke seven days a week to be reminded to buy it…Brute repetition is the only way to break through, and it’s hard to know right now what (the Administration) is supposed to be selling.” Only through crafting a clear message, and sticking with it, can the White House overcome its obstacles to successfully implementing its agenda.

Take, as exhibit A, Obamacare repeal and replace. The President and his team have been all over the map on healthcare, with the President himself ranging from supporting a full repeal, to repeal and replace, to letting Obamacare fail on its own and then picking-up the pieces with Democrats in tow. This sort of messaging muddle is aiding an abetting an already do-nothing Congress in its inaction. With no clear direction from the Commander-In-Chief, GOP members of Congress have no unifying message around which to rally, which has fueled factionalism on Capitol Hill. Obamacare is still as unpopular as ever, and is still slouching toward utter collapse under the weight of its own implausibility, but there remains no conservative consensus on how to proceed with repealing and replacing Obamacare with a free-market based plan that will lower premiums, cut costs to taxpayers, and give patients more access to healthcare options.

The shake-up of the White House communications team on Friday is a good opportunity to reset the message, but it is not a guarantee of good salesmanship. Anthony Scaramucci is a polished and professional business and media personality, who can help bring tremendous unity and clarity to the President’s messaging, if the President will allow it. The same was true, however, of Sean Spicer who is now out as Press Secretary after only 6 months on the job. President Trump is not an institutional kind of guy, and the Presidency is the ultimate institution. While he is the boss, he can no longer afford Twitter tirades, or to run the country in a slapdash fashion. Holding together an administration and a governing majority in Congress is the stuff of a master statesman, not simply the “art of the deal” in business and entertainment.

It is still early enough in the President’s term for things to turn-around, and I pray that they do, for the sake of the country. Obamacare must go, taxes must be cut, and our budget must be balanced. Anything less will be a betrayal of millions of Americans who voted to “Make America Great Again.” President Trump needs a few more quarts of Ronald Reagan to be the Great Communicator required to get our country back on track.

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I’m Tired of Not Being Tired of Winning, Mr. President

In May, 2016, in a packed arena in Billings, Montana, then-candidate Donald Trump promised his audience that conservatives would win big with him at the helm. In his high-energy sales pitch, the future President promised adoring fans that “We’re going to win. We’re going to win so much. We’re going to win at trade, we’re going to win at the border. We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning, you’re going to come to me and go ‘Please, please, we can’t win anymore.’ You’ve heard this one. You’ll say ‘Please, Mr. President, we beg you sir, we don’t want to win anymore. It’s too much. It’s not fair to everybody else.’” By bringing his negotiator-in-chief qualities to the White House, Trump told audiences, he would reverse America’s seeming decline and make us great again. Here we are, however, six months into his term and conservatives have little to show for complete Republican control of Washington.

I’m not solely blaming the commander-in-chief, because our do-nothing GOP majority in Congress certainly deserves its fair share of the blame, but the President has certainly not helped the cause any either with Twitter tirades and chronically low approval ratings. The combination of Congress doing nothing and the President spending more time responding to critics on social media than pressing for the conservative agenda, is undermining Obamacare repeal, tax reform, spending cuts, and border security policy. Even as I write this article, for example, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to decide which version of Obamacare repeal he wants the Senate to vote on next week, and President Trump is publicly criticizing his own Attorney General for recusing himself from the Russia investigation. It’s like amateur hour at the Apollo.

Instead of allowing this chaos to continue, I hope the President will devote more time to helping the Vice-President work Capitol Hill to try and find a way to pass healthcare legislation, and to raise money to primary Republican senators who sell-out on Obamacare repeal. There seemed to be some movement toward engaging the legislative process today when the President hosted GOP Senators at the White House for lunch, where he threatened sell-out Senator Dean Heller by stating “Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he? And I think the people of your state, which I know very well, I think they’re gonna appreciate what you hopefully will do.”

If the President will do more meetings like he did today, which are focused on advancing the conservative agenda, he can help prod Congress toward meaningful action and reverse the stagnation that has plagued the new Republican government. This will require Trump to stop being the “chaos candidate” and to become a disciplined leader who controls his emotions, builds consensus around conservative principles, and doesn’t undermine his own people, like Jeff Sessions, in public. Congress, likewise, will have to get off its butt and pass some dang bills that live-up to their campaign rhetoric for the past three elections about repealing Obamacare, balancing the budget, and cutting taxes.

The first six months of complete Republican control of Washington has not gone well, and liberals are emboldened. Now is the time to cancel August’s congressional recess, buckle-down, and try and govern as adults before next year’s midterm elections bring us the second iteration of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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