It was once thought by some of us that there was a vaccine effective against Tea Party brain. Donald Trump won a resounding victory in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries campaigning against Wall Street, free trade, cuts to entitlements (to say nothing of his past statements in favor of increasing taxes on the wealthy and other no-nos). It is amusing now to remember the mood just before his inauguration in 2017. I distinctly remember telling the editor of a prominent conservative periodical my hope that someone would convince the president to pass single-payer health care (which Trump had himself publicly supported only a few years earlier). All he would have had to do is bill it as golf-plated, diamond-studded platinum TrumpCare Like You Wouldn’t Believe™ and the public’s objections would vanish. The same thing could happen with everything from tariffs to infrastructure investment to guaranteed employment. The average American voter is socially conservative and economically moderate to progressive. The only possible objections to any of this would be from right-wing wonks. The Republican Party itself cares about winning more than anything else, and this was certainly a winning platform.
“No one is going to be more disappointed with Donald Trump’s presidency than you are,” my editor friend told me at the time. He was right. Instead of fulfilling the promise of his presidential campaign, when it comes to domestic affairs Trump has governed more or less exactly the way a President Cruz would have. With the exception of the criminal justice reform bill he signed into law at the behest of Kim Kardashian, Trump’s only major legislative achievement was cutting taxes.