The Most Dangerous Lead in Politics or Hockey

Everyone talks about Donald J. Trump’s unusual qualities, but most remain unaware of the very unusual political alignment he now commands. His election marks the first time in 64 years, and only the second time in 96 years, that a Republican succeeded a Democrat president when the GOP controlled both houses of Congress. 

Republicans also control the executive branch and both legislative houses in 25 states (including Michigan) while Democrats have this advantage in only 5, a historic disparity. 

In any other context, these thoughts could be misconstrued as partisan or an endorsement of the Trump administration, but this is a peculiar moment in history. For the first time in decades, tremendous opportunities await for those of us whose ideals align more closely with the majority party. 

It may be tempting to sit on this lead and just wait for the policy payoff. But this would be a terrible mistake. The value of a political victory is not the victory itself, but in how one uses it to drive positive policy changes. 

We at the Mackinac Center won’t assume anything other than what has always been true: Good ideas aren’t inherently persuasive, and we can’t assume just because a politician’s name is followed by an “R” he will do the right thing. Good ideas require competent development, clear and patient exposition, energetic advocacy, moral suasion, and above all, relentlessness.

A commanding position isn’t the time to coast, it’s the time to hit the gas. Every big-government  political operative whose bags were packed for Washington before Nov. 8 is now likely working full-time to undermine our ideas, attack our credibility, and regain power to finish what they started with Obamacare and more. Every single Democrat who immediately succeeded a Republican president in the 20th and 21st centuries (all six of them, from Wilson to Obama) enjoyed his own party’s control of both houses of Congress on Day One of his first term.

Democrats or Republicans who campaign on the ideas of free-markets and limited government can count on us to defend those ideas and help them do the right thing. We don’t shy away from reminding them what they said they stood for. If we won’t do it, who will?

Trump is unpredictable. Some of his rhetoric suggests he wants to curtail free trade, amp up corporate welfare and push government spending higher. In other areas, he is off to an excellent start. He has, for example, nominated Mackinac Center friend Betsy DeVos for education secretary and issued an executive order to dial back some harmful Obamacare provisions.

Michigan Republicans also need help to do the right thing. Some of their ideas are clunkers, such as the attempted $2 billion tax increase voters obliterated at the ballot box 80-20. Even Gov. Snyder’s recent State of the State Address outlined 12 different ways to expand government compared to only one limitation of it.

Voters’ expectations are very high after they gave Trump and Republicans astounding victories. If the GOP doesn’t deliver, the 2018 midterm elections could be devastating to the progress of free-market policies. The time to act is now. 

If you’re a Mackinac Center friend, you know our plan: Study and predict government failure, report on government failure and seek justice for those harmed by it, and give citizens information and ideas so they can take action. We will continue to do this regardless of who is in office. 

My colleague John Mozena, vice president of marketing and communications, noted that the most dangerous lead in hockey is two goals. It’s a big enough lead to tempt you to ease up, but the other team is only one goal away from making things too close for comfort. 

Time to remain on offense.