July 27, 2017
The American people knew what they were getting when they elected Donald Trump: a brassy, politically-incorrect, outsider. Tired of Republicans that ran from the fight, they elected a man who wasn't afraid of anyone. And he's not disappointed them. Like most conservatives, I don't agree with everything the president has done or said. But no one can deny the gutsy leadership he's offered on issues the rest of his political class tries to avoid.
When the president ordered a halt to the Obama era transgender military policy, it was the first time in years that Americans got a glimpse of a Republican who wasn't content to push pause on radically liberal policy of his predecessor. Instead, he hit rewind. Unmoved by the media's backlash or the Left's hysteria, Trump did what he said he would: put the military's focus where it belongs. Yesterday's decision to free the troops from the shackles of the Obama years was just the latest chapter in a story of bold strokes. But it came with a familiar price.
The media, who's used to hearing the GOP talk about values (but rarely has the stomach to act on them), was overwrought. After all, they aren't used to politicians who can't be cowed by the usual LGBT threats. Headlines warned of lawsuits, protests, and even a Democratic campaign to overrule him. Others, like Newsweek, are blaming FRC for its influence in the White House. But President Trump, who's taken more negative press than any man in his job, was unconcerned. He knows the media will attack him no matter what he does, so he might as well do what's in the best interest of national security. And, like us, the White House is quite aware that they have the backing of more important people: voters.
Only 23 percent of America believes as the Left does, that the military should be a petri dish for social experimentation. Even yesterday, the country had Trump's back, flocking to his Twitter account to show their support. By night's end, the president's announcement had as many as 132,000 likes on Twitter each -- making them some of his most popular tweets all summer. If the decision to restore the military was controversial, you could have fooled voters. After all, they understand what so many in the media do not: that the president is simply reinforcing the GOP values he pledged to uphold last July. If people are surprised by Trump's agenda, then they weren't paying attention.
The final GOP platform, which I helped draft as a delegate in Cleveland, was very clear on where the party stands on issues like social engineering in the military: "We reject the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation and will not accept or continue attempts to undermine military priorities and mission readiness. We believe that our nation is most secure when the president and the administration prioritize readiness, recruitment, and retention rather than using the military to advance a social or political agenda. Military readiness should not be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness." Did the media expect this to be a symbolic document? If so, no one told Trump and the voters who supported him. He's using it as the political map it was intended to be. In fact, his systematic implementation of the platform is one of the reasons evangelicals have remained solid supporters.
For the conservatives on the Hill who share Trump's tenacity, the White House's decision was a major one. Veterans like Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) were already gearing up for a showdown over Pentagon funding if the policy wasn't addressed. "The President's decision was the absolute right decision," he said. "National security should trump social experimentation, always. It's about time that a decision is made to restore the warrior culture and allow the U.S. military to get back to business." Former Army Ranger and Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) was equally relieved to see an end to Obama's PC. "The Department of Defense should be focused on fighting and winning our nation's wars, while also training and equipping the force that will do so into the future. The transgender debate is a distraction from this focus. With this announcement, along with the readiness and training review underway by Secretary Mattis, the Trump administration is setting a clear expectation for that focus. I look forward to reviewing the details of these changes when they become available."
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party can't seem to take a hint. Three days removed from their "Better Deal" reboot, leaders like Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are insisting their movement return to the radical ideals voters rejected. After taking a singularly economic focus in their new campaign, some leaders are actually suggesting that making transgenderism a top priority may win people back to the party. "If [Republicans] think voters will reward them for an agenda that discriminates against people by firing thousands of them who want to protect our country instead of getting results on health care and the economy, they're tragically misreading America," one strategist said.
Exactly where have Democrats been the last nine months? In the aftermath of the election, virtually every political pundit and expert in America at least partially blamed Hillary Clinton's social extremism for her historic loss. Even the Washington Post quoted disgruntled Democrats in the Midwest, who said, "People in the heartland thought the Democratic Party cared more about where someone else went to the restroom than whether they had a good-paying job... The local chairman feels very strongly now that Clinton could have won Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan if she had just kept her eye on economic issues and not gotten distracted by the culture wars." If the Left wants to go back to what failed, let them. But this president is going to keep building on his legacy of privacy, common sense defense, pro-life protections, and judicial stalwarts. We'll see who has the better read on America soon enough.
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Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.