But if the Republican party “burns to the ground,” the Democratic party wins by default. I cannot believe the following needs to be said, but here we are: This would be a very bad outcome for conservatism! As we all saw during the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency, Democrats will not hesitate to use their majorities to enact sweeping changes. And as we have seen lately, Democrats are moving further left, away from Clintonian third-way triangulation, toward the social democracies of northern Europe. And as the experience of the failed effort to repeal and replace Obamacare has surely demonstrated, it is much easier to prevent the Left from implementing policies than to undo or reform those policies once they are in place.
Additionally, we must reckon with the fact that the Trump administration has succeeded in important ways. The president has exceeded nearly everybody’s expectations when it comes to the quantity and quality of judicial nominees — to date in his first term, he has had double the number of appellate nominations confirmed than those Obama or George W. Bush had confirmed by this point in their terms. A lot of the praise goes to Mitch McConnell, who has expertly shepherded nominees through the Senate, as well as think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation, which has done excellent work in vetting potential candidates. But that still leaves a lot of credit for the president. And his administration, along with congressional Republicans, has used the Congressional Review Act to an impressive extent, rolling back the regulatory overreach of the Obama administration. While I have frequently lamented the low tone that Trump has brought to the office, these policy victories have to count for something.