In his inaugural presidential address, Donald Trump shocked people to the core by making clear that he actually intended to keep his promises to those who had voted for him.
After picking themselves up off the floor, many wondered how this novel principle would translate into real policies. Due to the volatility of the new president’s character, though, it would be a rash person who would predict what he will actually do.
In any event, this is to look at him through the wrong end of the telescope. It’s not so much what he does as what he undoes.
The progressive agenda is all about changing the world and human nature to accord with a preferred model of existence. That’s what Trump voters want him to stop. He has already begun to deliver. Both at home and abroad, he intends to put into sharp reverse the policies of previous administrations which he thinks have hurt the American people. So he is poised to slaughter a herd of sacred cows.
Immediately after his inauguration the White House wiped off its website the pages on LGBT rights, civil rights, climate change and health care. Under “An America First energy plan” it now says the president is “committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan”. In its place he will “embrace the shale oil and gas revolution” and “clean coal technology” while protecting clean air and water and conserving natural habitats.
The White House page on civil rights has been replaced by “Standing up for our law enforcement community”. Instead of previous concerns about police behaviour, there’s now a pledge to end the “dangerous anti-police atmosphere” and support men and women in uniform in “their mission of protecting the public”.
The new “America First foreign policy” is all about defeating Islamic State and rebuilding the military. There’s no mention of China or Russia, other than gnomic references to feeling happy “when old enemies become friends” and “peace through strength”.
Last October, candidate Trump said: “Every trade deal we have is horrible … Believe me, they will be unwound so fast.” Now he is not only pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership but threatening to leave the North American Free Trade Agreement if the terms don’t benefit America. Trade deals, says the website, will no longer be negotiated “by, and for, members of the Washington establishment” but will be implemented “by and for the people”.
Security is paramount so the military and police will be well-funded; and the president has promised not to cut Medicare or social security. Otherwise, though, he intends dramatically to shrink the state.
According to the Washington newspaper The Hill, he plans to reduce government spending by more than $10 trillion over the next decade. At the Department of Justice, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and Violence Against Women grants would be axed.
The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated altogether. The NEA awards millions of dollars’ worth of grants each year for art projects, which have included plays about assassinating Christopher Columbus, gun-control activist lesbians, “Doggie Hamlet” and climate change poetry.
This rainbow alliance of causes has already been behaving as if the election of Donald Trump presages the end of the world. It is the end of their world, for sure. For such a drastic withdrawal of government patronage would help cut off the progressive agenda at the knees.
The contemporary culture of complaint by myriad groups demanding their “rights” didn’t arise from nothing. Although its emergence owed much to the millions of dollars spent by major Democratic donors such as George Soros, who wanted to change the culture (and who was reportedly tied to more than 50 groups who were involved in the “spontaneous” women’s anti-Trump march last weekend), it was institutionalised and validated by government agency funding.
On Friday, Theresa May is due in the US capital for talks with Mr Trump in his first meeting with a foreign leader. Mrs May might do well to overcome any aesthetic distaste she may have for the new occupant of the Oval Office and instead take a leaf out of the Trump playbook.
For what he is promoting is the classic conservative agenda of small government: protecting what is valuable, putting your own country first and defending your nation against its enemies. Unlike Mrs May, who seems to think the beneficent state can address systemic inequalities, what Mr Trump is not doing is telling Americans how to behave or trying to engineer a different kind of society.
However flawed he may turn out to be, the enormous popularity of his approach, which speaks to the everyday lives and concerns of ordinary people by being rooted in what is rather than in what should be, has the potential to wipe out the left.
Donald Trump rejects utopian ideologies. His intended programme amounts to a counter-revolution against identity politics, the grievance culture and a free pass to certain groups for bad behaviour. It stands instead for upholding the national and cultural identity that the left has spent half a century attempting to dismantle.
That’s why the Left are screaming.