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MAGA Minus Trump May Make Republicans Great Again

I&I Editorial

It is of sharp significance that Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., 78 years old, the 46th president of the United States, delivered an inaugural address Wednesday that was entirely and conspicuously bereft of any policy substance.

He used the word “unity” or “uniting” a dozen times in a speech of about 2,550 words, insisting that “it’s time for boldness, for there is so much to do.” But he never told the tens of millions of Americans watching, or the countless others beyond our shores, what exactly his bold acts were going to be.

Former President Donald Trump four years ago, by contrast, in a much shorter – and bolder – speech coming in at just over 1,400 words, used his swearing in to zero in on the dramatic policy redirection that was to come.

“Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families,” Trump said. “We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.” To a large extent, Trump succeeded.

Ronald Reagan, the 40th chief executive, who embarked upon his historically successful presidency 40 years ago Wednesday, similarly focused on the profound policy changes that were about to come, declaring that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” having “grown beyond the consent of the governed.”

Fifteen years later, a president of the party of big government, addressing hostile Republican majorities in both the House and Senate during his State of the Union address, would concede Reagan’s observation for tactical purposes, stating that “the era of big government is over.”

Bill Clinton was wrong, of course, about the massive growth of the state, a still-relentless expansion that Reagan had mixed success in addressing.

But what is notable about all of these orations is that the only policies presented to the audience for its favor are conservative ones. And it is for this reason that Republicans can and should take great heart at the outset of the Biden Era, in spite of the lament from GOP consultant Karl Rove that the party is “broken,” “fractured,” and in “the midst of a civil war,” with “an ugly several years” staring it in the face.

Embrace The Man’s Successes While Eschewing The Man

As Republicans seeking majorities in the House and Senate in 2022 are told ceaselessly of the toxicity of Trump by the media and by their opponents who now hold full power in Washington, they will also behold the tens of millions of die-hard Trump supporters whose votes can be theirs – or can be no one’s, should they be mistreated and stay home. Or, worse still, can be cast for a MAGA third party that assures power for Democrats in the future for as far as the eye can see.

And campaigning Republicans will know that there is but one course of action: Embrace the unprecedented successes of the man’s presidency, and the unfulfilled promise of his second term, while, to some degree or other, eschewing the man.

In some respects, the departure of this most unusual of presidents may be better for the future of his own movement, and the Republican Party that served as its vehicle, than had he won.

Clearly, the unexpected GOP gain of more than a dozen seats in the House – in spite of all the supposed ill will against Republicans over COVID-19 – indicates approval for the policies of the last four years. Those policies brought record low unemployment, record high economic growth, unforeseen peace deals that were thought impossible in the Middle East (based on increased U.S. support for the state of Israel), and a level of support for social conservatism never seen in past Republican presidencies, notably Trump’s appointments to the Supreme Court and the lower federal bench. None of the new GOP congressmen and congresswomen were elected because voters thought their personalities resembled Trump’s. No reasonable observer can blame any of them for the riots in the U.S. Capitol on the day that the electoral votes were counted.

Biden on Wednesday alluded to the violence that was used as pretext for a slapdash second Trump impeachment; he did not mention Trump’s policies, any more than he spoke of his own. Why would he? But in the coming years, why would Republicans speak of anything else?

Donald Trump is gone now, but his resoundingly triumphant policy legacy looms large. All elected Republicans in Washington unreservedly condemned the invasion of the Capitol by a pack of miscreants unrepresentative of Trump’s supporters.

It should be equally easy for them to learn from the last four years: Trump added realism and toughness to the Reaganism that 40 years ago took the Republican Party away from the philosophical vacuity of the Nixon-Ford years. Free trade is no longer a rationale for America hiding its head in the ground on communist China. And there is nothing bigoted about demanding full control of our borders and a sane immigration policy.

“Sleepy” may be considered just another of Trump’s nicknames for one of his opponents, but the signs are already there that this elderly new “moderate” president hasn’t anything near the vigor to match his party’s woke radicals who seek full-scale social revolution. There is no unity coming, as Joe Biden promises, other than, as Orwell warned, “fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting – 300 million people all with the same face.”

— Written by Thomas McArdle

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The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Of you have been in DC more than one term, I will not vote for you. The politicians in DC are the pribkem , not the solution. Voting for the same shrubs every election cycle changes nothing.
    So no I will not be voting for any GOP lifer. I am hoping that President Trump starts a new party.

    • “I am hoping that President Trump starts a new party” = I am hoping the Republican vote splits and Democrats win the White House in every election from now on.

      • Perhaps you haven’t realized that the rules have changed and the masks are off. Elected Republicans will no longer be able to campaign one way and act 180 degrees opposite once elected. They will never again be able to do that.

        If that means Dems win, so be it. Because the Republicans once elected are no different. Token votes and campaign rhetoric are no longer going to win our support,

    • After Reagan’s primary loss in 1976, conservatives were mulling founding “the New Majority Party.” It quickly became clear that all a third party does is split the right and let the left cruise to victory in election after election, from now until the end of time.

  • I disagree. My wife and I have changed our party affiliation from Republican to independent. We have been lifelong Republicans. There are too many reasons to list but the failure of the Republican Party to protect our votes in the last election, their wimpish “Paul Ryan” policies and Mitch’s behavior during the last month, are at the top. We pray that Trump comes back for the sake of our nation. Whatever party he leads will get our votes, which won’t count anyway since all future federal elections will be stolen!

    • Boy, I wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole with you, G.I. Joe.. You might want to start taking Mandarin courses if you really think it’s all over.

      • I’d much rather be in a foxhole with a fellow Trump supporter than a RINO wimp like you who does nothing but lose!

  • Well I guess I can see where the Issues and Answers people stand. Trump IS the party. Mitch McConnell is a lifer politian who hates you and me. He is in it like the vast majority of the Republicans: Self Enrichment. It’s too bad you people refuse to see this.

    • That’s really pretty ungrateful to a guy who got all those Trump judges through. If you look back at previous Senate Republican leaders — Frist, Lott, Dole, Baker — it’s not certain at all that they would have succeeded on that, or on other items in Trump’s conservative legislative agenda. And those conservative judges are now the ONLY bulwark against what these ever-more-radicalized Democrats will be trying to do in the years ahead.

    • I agree with you, Connie. Thomas McArdle and apparently I&I, too, are living in a make-believe world. McArdle and I&I can have Mitch McConnell and all the other weasels who not only let the Left hammer Trump but joined in as well. Today’s Republican Party can be depended upon for one thing — collapsing in the face of opposition. The few principled members of the party can’t save it. They must move to the Patriot Party, if it comes into being, or consign themselves to irrelevance. Trump’s presence exposed the rotten cores of both major parties. There is no going back to business as usual, and there is no going forward with those who want to do so. Goodbye Republican Party, and goodbye Issues & Insights.

  • I am an independent. I will never ever ever belong to a party that has Chaney, Romney, McConnell, Ryan, Collins too many to list in it. I am an old man now and will not be around long but I mourn for my wonderful country and what has happened to it. If my vote means nothing than why bother.
    There is zero chance Chairman Xiden and Hells up received more votes than Obama.

      • Which party controlled the House and Senate the first two years under the former president? What did they accomplish besides judges? How long did it take for them to start selling their constituents out, as in “conservative” Mike Lee’s immigration policy? What’s the difference in being skinned from the feet up or the head down? The GOP did nothing for 4 years and will continue that stellar record as long as the party lasts. May all but a handful in the house and a very few in the senate rot.
        The one thing that is crystal clear after the last 4 years is that the party of the middle class patriotic American does not exist. Yet.
        It is not a surprise to any ‘America First’ voter what we get from democrats. We now know what we get from the repubs.
        There is one party in DC. And we’re not invited.
        This isn’t politics as usual. The rot has been exposed for all to see, and it’s amazing how stupid I feel for pulling the same lever in the voting booth for all these years.

  • Excuse my Mr. McArdle, political parties come and go in this country. Right now the Republicans remind me very much of the Whigs, and I hope they have the same fate.

  • I am so sick of republicans and their massive lack of pure guts. A whistleblower can come forward and accuse President Trump of a crime. Immediately congressional hearings are called, calls for impeachment begin, the whistleblower is called a true patriot and the drumbeat is amplified by the MSM. Impeachment takes place and one hate-filled republican votes to impeach.
    On the other hand, numerous whistleblowers come forward signing affidavits that they witnessed voter fraud on Nov. 3. Silence from the MSM, no congressional hearings, no investigations by state officials, sweep it under the rug as quickly as possible is the plan. Republicans pee their pants and refuse to take a stand.
    This is how it is.
    One of my senators(Kevin Cramer) would not be in the senate had it not been for President Trump. What did he do for the president? He followed the instructions of McConnell and did not take a stand for justice. Republicans took the Pelosi planned riot at the capitol to quickly certify a completely unqualified person to be president.
    I am 1,000 per cent done with republicans and I pray President Trump campaigns to primary all these gutless grifters in the republican party.

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