There’s a scene in the Oscar winning 1984 movie Amadeus where Mozart is pleading with Austrian Emperor Joseph II to allow him to produce a work many in the court find distasteful: “Forgive me, Majesty. I am a vulgar man! But I assure you, my music is not.” As anyone who’s seen the movie knows, that statement is indeed true – at least in that big screen version of Mozart. The point of the line is simply that it is his work, i.e. not his words, that are important.
It’s a line that I think could equally apply to Donald Trump. The man is indeed vulgar at times. He frequently spouts off without necessarily knowing all the facts, without being clear, sometimes he’s simply wrong, and he frequently shows his thin skin when it comes to anyone who disagrees with him or who he believes has slighted him.
By any measure, if America was looking for a standard bearer of eloquence, someone to be the next Abraham Lincoln, JFK or Ronald Reagan with words that inspire a nation to greatness, that’s likely not Donald Trump. If America seeks to have another John Adams or Thomas Jefferson who leaves behind a virtual library of deep, thoughtful, consequential correspondence, that’s not likely Donald Trump either. But if the nation is looking for someone to do the basic nuts and bolts things that help put the government back where it belongs, helps point the nation towards prosperity, reminds Americans that it’s not government that made America great but rather her industrious people, then Donald Trump may be that man.
In the 50 days since Donald Trump was inaugurated the Trump White House has been a cavalcade of activity seeking to rein in the leviathan of government bequeathed to him by Barack Obama… and truth be told, by most of the dozen or so presidents before Obama as well.
The first and most important step Trump has taken has been the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. In a universe where modern courts seem to create law out of thin air or less, a conservative who recognizes that government power derives from the Constitution and what’s actually in it is exactly what the country needs.
But that’s only one. There are many more. Putting Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education is a genius move. Unlike most of the Education bureaucracy, DeVos understands that education is about the students, not the teachers’ unions. Schools are there to teach students to survive and thrive in the world, not a jobs program for teachers and administrators. DeVos will work to put parents and local communities back in control of their children’s education rather than Washington and teachers’ unions.
Then there is Scott Pruitt over at EPA. In Pruitt Trump has empowered someone who understands firsthand how the EPA has strayed far from Congress’s original intent. Pruitt will seek to reverse the decades long mission creep that jumped the shark back in 2011 when the EPA decided that it could regulate milk spills on farms the same way it regulates oil spills. (Eventually the agency had to explicitly state that it would not regulate milk…) Added bonus, Pruitt understands that energy is what powers the United States and he will seek to reverse the EPA’s war on traditional sources.
And speaking of environmental regulations gone awry, the Trump administration has announced that it will roll back the Obama administration’s last minute jump in CAFÉ standards regulations which would have required automakers to increase fuel economy for new cars to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Aside from being an indirect subsidy to Elon Musk and the rest of the electric car market, this would have turned the United States into Europe, where practically everyone drives around in Matchbox cars few actually want.
And finally there is regulation itself… On the campaign Trump promised to cut regulation by 75%. While he may or may not ever hit that mark, he has taken two strong steps in stemming the tide of overregulation… which costs the United States almost $2 trillion per year. During the first month of the Trump administration not only stated that there would be $0 budgeted for new regulations, they also stated that for every regulation that might be rolled out, an agency must repeal two existing ones. Add to that a hiring freeze – and a ban on hiring contractors – and Trump has set himself up to at least move down that road.
Donald Trump may not be the kind of guy you want to invite to your dinner table or the guy you want dating your daughter… But so what? He wasn’t elected to be a polite dilettante who makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy. He was elected to be the chief executive of the federal government. His single most important duty in that role beyond national defense is to seek to ensure that the government does only those things that it is Constitutionally empowered to do, and if possible do them efficiently and effectively. By reining in stifling government overreach and overregulation, Donald Trump will hopefully put the United States back in a place where innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs can revive real opportunity and prosperity.
For eight years we had an “articulate” and caring president who did indeed make many people feel warm and fuzzy, and over whom Hollywood, the media and academia fawned… with the result being an avalanche of regulation, a dysfunctional and intrusive government and a GDP growth rate that averaged 1.8% - the worst in eighty years – all while piling another $10 trillion of debt onto the shoulders of American citizens!
There may indeed be sour notes ahead, like the disaster of the Obamacare repeal that is shaping up in the House, or potentially a waffling on taxes or the Paris accords, but today 50 days in, the music coming from the Trump administration has been surprisingly sublime. Like the Mozart of Amadeus, Donald Trump can indeed be vile and sometimes repugnant man, but if he continues on this path and succeeds in returning real prosperity to the United States where a robust rising tide lifts all boats, his legacy will be music to the ears of most Americans…