Donald Trump and the return of the Contract with America
By John Silveira
When he burst into the Republican presidential race, I liked the way Donald Trump spoke. As they say, he spoke his mind and didn’t use a filter. Trump rejected the politically correct speech the Liberals/Progressives/Left have used for decades to control discourse with the Republican Party. For their parts; Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and the other Republican Presidential hopefuls always duck if it looks like someone’s going to call them racists, misogynists, Islamophobes, homophobes, or whatever else liberals and the mainstream media use to cow their opponents. But Trump doesn’t care what they call him. I like that.
Even when they misrepresented what he said, he laughed them off. When he discussed illegal immigration, his detractors reported that he is a xenophobe who hates immigrants and, specifically, that he hates Mexicans. (It’s not true.) When he said liberal programs are destroying blacks, have thrown blacks deeper into poverty, and are the major reason for black-on-black crime, he was reported to be an uncaring racist. (He’s not.) When he objected to transgender locker rooms and bathrooms, they called him homophobic. (There’s no evidence there.) When he warned we should screen Syrian refugees before allowing them to immigrate here, they said he’s an Islamophobe. (He laughed again.) Global warming? They called him a climate denier, anti-science, and said he’s in league with big oil and the coal companies. (He doesn’t care.)
Finally, the Republicans have a candidate with a backbone. I’m pretty much a lifelong Libertarian, but I’m giving him a second look.
Do I agree with Trump on everything? No. I disagree with him on America’s military interventions; the way he talks about trade, national security, and minimum wage laws, among other subjects; and I’m afraid he might turn out to be just another big-government politician — like all the Democrats and what true conservatives call RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) have turned out to be. So, I’m waiting to see what he has to say once he gets the nomination. But what he’s done, so far, and has done spectacularly, is crack a barrier by forcing issues the liberals have made taboo out into the open where they can be talked about. Even if he’s wrong on some of these taboo subjects — immigration, gender, race, etc. — they have to be discussed. Until now, the liberals have more or less successfully squelched dissent by demonizing those who want to discuss them. If you think about what is now making Trump popular, it’s been his willingness to talk about unpopular subjects. So, the irony is, liberals may have created a stage for him by having squelched dissent for so long.
But, now that he’s the presumptive Republican nominee, one big question remains: can he win? Maybe. But if he wants to be a shoo-in to the White House, he has to do more than try to win votes by just ticking off the liberals. He needs a positive, winning approach. Is there such a formula? Yes! All he has to do is look back at the strategy that worked spectacularly for the Republicans in the past.
The Contract with America
The biggest election turnaround in my lifetime took place in 1994 when, approximately seven weeks before the general election, Republicans Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey concocted something that lit the American electorate on fire: the Contract with America. Not only Republicans and Independents, but Democrats crossed party lines to vote for Republican candidates who endorsed the Contract.
Then that newly Republican-controlled Congress went ahead and introduced the specifics of the Contract. Some even became law. But the Republicans didn’t stay the course. Once the blush was off the rose, they turned their backs on it. Why, after it had caused a Republican revolution, would they have abandoned it? The truth is the Republican establishment didn’t really want it. In truth, they didn’t realize it would be so wildly successful and, though it proved to be what the electorate wanted, it went against the special interests that fund the Republican Party, as well as the Democratic Party.
This was the reason that the Democrats never held the Republicans’ feet to the fire on this issue because, with the Contract’s call for smaller government, term limits, and balanced budgets, the Democrats wanted it to go away, too. In fact, they denied it had anything to do with turning them out of Congress. If they admitted it did, the question would be, if the People wanted the Contract so badly, why aren’t the Democrats on the bandwagon, now? Face it, given the content of the Contract, it was actually "anti-government." Today both Republican and Democrat elites want the Contract forgotten. Trump isn’t part of the Republican elite. He can use it.
Furthermore, in 2009, some 13 years after the Contract delivered both houses of Congress to the Republicans (and I believe if they’d introduced the Contract in ’96 instead of ’94 they’d have taken the White House, too), the Tea Party, a grass roots organization, appeared.
Those in the Tea Party Movement wanted pretty much what the Contract had promised, along with smaller government and a promise by those elected with Tea Party backing that they would adhere to the Constitution.
It’s ironic that initially, the Democrats tried to co-opt the Tea Party Movement. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Representative from California’s 12th congressional district, attempted to woo the Tea Party by absurdly stating that they and the Democratic Party had a lot in common. Those overtures were rejected and, within two weeks, leading Democrats and the mainstream media were demonizing the movement, calling it racist. (Again, trying to control the dialogue with name-calling.) But the Tea Party Movement endured and many Democrats got turned out of office in the general elections, along with many soft Republicans, deemed too liberal, who got thrown out in the primaries. Once again, embracing an agenda similar to the Contract proved to be a winner.
Trump should adopt a platform that embraces a new Contract. First, he should promise to push for both a term-limits amendment and a balanced budget amendment. He should let the electorate know that he’ll pursue this even if it means bypassing the Congress, with its career politicians, and going straight to the People and the States and calling for a Constitutional Convention. Second, he should promise to adhere to the Constitution even if he thinks "it’s flawed" (those are Barack Obama’s words), and promise no "reinterpretations" of what is in it. In other words, if it should be changed, then it won’t be unilaterally changed by the President, the Congress, or the Courts. The changes will come in accordance with Article V of the Constitution. This way, any changes will reflect the will of the People and the States. If he makes these promises to the American People, he can’t lose.
A pillar of his campaign’s platform could be, "We stared down the politically-correct crowd, and now we’re going to fix the government." Republicans who now oppose him will be forced to go along. How can they expect to stay in office if they oppose a platform such as this? Trump should also make it clear that although the Republicans abandoned the last Contract, he won’t abandon this one. All he’d have to do then would be to stand back and let the revolution happen.
Once elected, would he stick to his promises? Hard to say. The Republicans didn’t stay the course the last two times, even though it was a proven winner. Can we trust Trump? I don’t know. But I’m willing to give the Contract one more try.