Congress will be in session for most of the next six weeks, and with the majority of the major Cabinet confirmations in the rearview mirror, voters will be expecting to see a Republican Party that can get stuff done. In control of both Congress and the White House for the first time in more than a decade, the GOP has a golden opportunity right now to make things right with a restless conservative base. No Obama to blame. No war brewing in the Middle East. No financial crisis to deal with. No excuses.
We’re not going to make life easier on Democrats by starting up the “Republicans are almost as terrible” chorus just yet, but there’s no doubt about it: this is put-up-or-shut-up time in Washington, D.C. Everyone knows the score. Everyone knows that the GOP majority in the Senate is a slim one. Everyone knows that Paul Ryan, the House Freedom Caucus, and President Trump are not perfectly aligned on every issue. The game board is what it is. But if it isn’t “perfect,” it’s about as close to perfect as the party could ask for. Voters have every right to expect results.
On deck immediately will be Obamacare, a budget, and tax code reform. And as far as we can tell, Republicans are not on the same page on any of these issues. Which…that’s fine. That’s the reality of the moment. Nothing wrong with hashing it out. No solution to any of these problems can make everyone happy.
But there are two things Republicans must do. First, they must demonstrate their capacity to lead the country. That means less infighting and more compromising. Not with Democrats! With each other! And that brings us to our second point, which is that Republicans must maintain their promises to the base. We’re not going to hold them to every comma and semicolon, but there’s certainly no room for, “Well, we decided to stick with Obamacare after all.”
Beyond that, it’s up to the GOP to harness this tremendous sense of energy and excitement and passion in conservative America and put it to legislative use. If Trump proved anything, it’s that voters on the right have not given up hope on this country, despite the best efforts of the last administration. We WANT to believe in this party. We WANT to believe that it’s not too late to actually “make America great again.”
If Republicans flow with that energy, we’re in for exciting times. If they try to fight it…well, we’ll talk about that in April.