Throughout World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill reminded his countrymen that they could not, through their endeavors alone, guarantee victory. “All we can do is deserve it,” he said.
The same is true of President Trump and the Republican Party in 2020. The economy, the media, the Democrats, and countless other factors beyond any conservative’s control will factor into the election two years from now. Ultimately, it’s up the voters. All the president and his party in Congress can do between now and then is make the best argument for why they, and not the Left, should prevail on election day.
The Democrats appear ready to do their part. Much has been made of progressives’ lurch to the left in recent years. Many Democratic candidates — most of them too young to remember the Cold War — openly embracing socialism in one form or another. And the entire party has embraced an angry, vindictive form of identity politics that divides and demonizes the American people. But, while the Left seems to be going crazy, they’re not stupid. Republicans should not expect Democrats to repeat the mistake of nominating an out-of-touch, dishonest, corrupt presidential candidate again. Hillary Clintons don’t grow on trees.
And so, come 2020, Republicans are going to have to make a positive case for their vision and agenda.
The good news is, this is President Trump’s strong suit. For all the media coverage of his lightning rod tweets and combative style, Donald Trump is an extremely effective political communicator. And that’s because has a great message to communicate.
The president is two years into his promised project to make America great again. So far, he’s kept that promise. Unemployment is down. Wages and overall economic growth are up. He has made good on his promise to improve America’s international trade deals. He has reformed our tax system to make our economy the most competitive in the world. He has appointed two excellent judges to the Supreme Court — judges who will apply the law rather than rewrite it. He has taken on the Swamp and the Deep State, and is winning — on regulations and nominations. And of course he has put the media on notice that fake news won’t cut it any more.
So far, so good.
The bad news is, Republican leaders in Congress have been lagging behind the president and his agenda. Neither House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) nor Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agree with the president on his signature issues of trade and immigration. Despite majorities in both houses of Congress for two years, Republicans failed to repeal or even substantially replace Obamacare. Our national debt continues to spiral out of control, not because of tax revenues — which remain near record highs — but because Congress simply refuses to cut spending.
Now, with Democrats taking over the House, chances of major reforms are dead for the next two years. Not only are the two parties miles apart on most issues, but Democrats have no interest in working to give President Trump “wins” before the next election. But just because Democrats want legislative gridlock doesn’t mean Republicans should give them political cover. Republicans need to take the fight to the Democrats and expose the extremism they try to hide from the voters.
The base of the Democratic Party basically believes all immigration laws are inherently evil. They believe free speech has to be sacrificed on the altar of LBGTQ activism. They don’t believe in religious freedom, due process, or Second Amendment rights. Republicans need to make Democrats in both houses vote on these questions.
Republicans should write strong, comprehensive reforms securing the border, building the wall, and adding commonsense workplace enforcement measures. They should craft legislation to affirm and protect the First and Second Amendments, and make the Democrats explain — to the American people and to President Trump — why they no longer support the Constitution. This way, Republicans can frame the 2020 election as simply a referendum on a status quo they will actively try to hurt through obstruction and harassment in Congress.
Republicans need to engage. They need to put the Democrats’ extremism on record. To deserve victory, congressional Republicans need to be more like Donald Trump.
They need to fight.
Jim DeMint served South Carolina in the U.S. Senate from 2005-2013. He is now chairman of the Conservative Partnership Institute, a nonprofit group advocating for limited government.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.