Matt Drudge loves to tell a story with his headlines on Drudge Report.
While such stories have slanted heavily in Donald Trump’s favor in the past year, recent key headlines tell a very different tale:
Lead headline: “WHITE HOUSE: HAVE TO WAIT ON OBAMACARE REPEAL”
Above the lead: “FORBES WARNS REPUBLICANS ON TAX CUT STALL…”
Top of the left column: “Trump launches blistering attack on judges in ‘disgraceful’ travel ban hearing…”
Top of the right column: “Republicans Push Carbon Tax in White House Meeting…”
Just below that headline: “BORDER WALL WON’T BE BUILT ALL AT ONCE…”
Notice a theme? Three of these headlines highlight delays: “wait,” “stall,” and “won’t…all at once.” The two other headlines speak to setbacks on two key issues for the Trump administration. In other words, for all the bluster of the Trump campaign over the past year, things don’t move nearly as quickly on Capitol Hill as they do on the free market. This is not the fault of our politicians, but the design of our system of government.
The fact that President Trump assumed that a good negotiator would speed this process up shows a certain naiveté—similar in some ways to our last president. Change, whether it be the utopian sort dreamt up by President Obama or the iconoclastic form envisioned by President Trump, is not easy in a representative democracy. Our system of checks and balances, opposing parties, and legislative processes all conspire against speed.
Take the aforementioned examples from Drudge Report. Obamacare must be meticulously repealed and replaced because it is so intertwined with both the market and millions of people. A border wall—especially if paid by tariffs on Mexico—will entail a good bit of diplomatic wrangling. Tax cuts and carbon taxes are both issues that will have to be hammered out between the president and his own party. Even broad agreement on those issues requires the slow work of crafting specific provisions in legislation.
With regard to the travel ban, the judicial branch—whatever the merits of the recent injunction—is exercising its power to check the executive. The fact that the Trump administration seemed not to anticipate this possibility again highlights a lack of realism. Perhaps this will be what wakes up President Trump to the arduous reality of governance and he’ll be more prepared next time.
Or he could not learn at all and simply try to override the system.
The only way to bypass these delays is by assuming more power within the executive branch—through executive orders and broad interpretations of certain laws by executive bureaucracies. The Obama administration was particularly liberal in utilizing the mechanisms to unilaterally effect “change.” You better believe that after President Trump uses some of these mechanisms to deconstruct some of those destructive acts of the last eight years, he’ll be tempted to use them continually, as well.
However the Trump Administration responds to these painful realities, we must appreciate the fact that this is inevitably what happens in the United States government. While Matt Drudge offers his not-so-subtle rebuke of President Trump’s tardiness, the president himself is learning the art of political patience. These delays should not be viewed as failures of the president, the GOP Congress, or Democratic obstructionism. Rather, they should be viewed as the abiding success of American democracy.
Let’s guard this success, rather than critique it, and prove worthy of this Republic, if indeed we can keep it. Such a system may not be easy, but over long and hard years, it has proven to be the best.
Stephen Roberts is an Army Reserve chaplain, writer and evangelist living near Milwaukee. He is a regular contributor to Political Storm.