Donald J. Trump has served as president of the United States for more than three-and-a-half years, yet it seems he is still running for reelection as a political outsider. Trump spends his time countering far-Left narratives on race, Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the preposterous claim that the president refuses to condemn white supremacy. Trump holds many of the levers of power, but it seems every issue is an uphill battle for him. Indeed, if he loses in November, it will have less to do with his policies than with the outsize cultural power of his critics.
President Trump is running as an outsider because, in many ways, he is still an outsider. Yes, Trump commands the incredible might of the U.S. military and the humongous bureaucracy of the executive branch. Yet his most notable achievements in office have involved reversing the radicalism of former President Barack Obama’s administration.
For instance, Trump is restoring the federal judiciary by nominating judges and justices who will uphold the original public meaning of the Constitution. Why does this matter? For decades, activist judges have reinterpreted the Constitution, unilaterally creating new “rights” that the Founders never intended — and which the text of the Constitution does not support. Most notoriously, the Supreme Court created a “right” to abortion in 1973 by twisting the Fourteenth Amendment — which passed at a time when America was tightening abortion laws.
Trump has reversed Obama’s directives on transgender identity in the military, mandates for transgender surgery under Obamacare, contraception mandates that violated the religious freedom of the Little Sisters of the Poor, and sexual harassment mandates that created a “sexual reign of terror” on college campuses.
Recently, Trump has directed federal agencies to cease using “white privilege” trainings based on Marxist Critical Race Theory, denounced the 1619 Project, and championed patriotism in American education. Critical Race Theory often encourages students to deconstruct various aspects of American society on the premise that they most likely enshrine racism.
Each of these overdue corrections faces a great deal of backlash. While Trump controls one massive branch of the federal government, he faces hostile elites in the commanding heights of American culture, from the legacy media to Big Tech to Hollywood to academia. Many of these spheres of influence are so left-wing they do not recognize their own bias, and they see Trump as a disgusting smear on the American character.
Trump is far from perfect, of course. Yet these elites constantly accuse the president of every evil under the sun: racism, fascism, xenophobia, hatred of LGBT people, heck, even anti-Semitism — despite the fact that Trump gladly welcomed Jews into his own family and has perhaps been the greatest ally Israel has ever had in the White House.
A populist, Trump has challenged the status quo and the perceived wisdom of the elites — and boy, do those elites need a wake-up call.
Climate alarmists have preached a doomsday predicated on the idea that burning fossil fuels will bring about an apocalyptic cataclysm. Yet, as Vice President Mike Pence noted in the debate on Wednesday, America’s carbon emissions have decreased more than the emissions of other countries that remained in the Paris climate accords. Alarmists claim that Trump and Pence have rejected “SCIENCE,” yet the climate alarmist predictions have failed time and time again.
Foreign policy experts long warned that if the U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing the City of David as the capital of Israel, immediate war would engulf the Middle East. They warned that if Trump ended the disastrous Iran nuclear deal, that would further destabilize the region. Yet after Trump moved the embassy and ended the Iran deal, he set the Middle East on a path toward peace. Arab states are now recognizing Israel, and a Muslim country has pledged to open its embassy in Jerusalem.
When Trump killed Quds Force General Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike, the elites predicted war with Iran — but Soleimani’s death left Iran in such a weakened state that Arab countries started negotiating with the U.S. and recognizing Israel, which Ayatollah Khamenei calls “the little Satan.”
Trump has changed the game and achieved historic successes in many arenas, but he still trails badly in the polls. The anti-Trump elites still hold powerful sway over America’s public opinion, and that fact may derail the possible achievements of a second Trump term. If Trump has gotten Arab states to recognize Israel, what could he achieve with four more years? If Trump has reversed many of Obama’s abuses in his first term, what positive good can he bring in a second term?
As of this writing, Trump is far behind in many polls, and observers widely expect Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. to become the “transition president” to the far-left ideologue Kamala Harris. Biden’s notorious gaffes, his apparent amnesia about his own policies, and his refusal to condemn the far-left radicals setting fire to American cities should make his candidacy utterly unpalatable, even if he were not wrong on almost every issue. Yet the elites commanding the heights of American culture are all-in on the only viable alternative to the Bad Orange Man.
Unfortunately, the 2020 campaign is less about Trump’s policy successes and more about the extreme animus against the man at the top of the Republican ticket. That’s a crying shame.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.