- The Washington Times - Friday, February 24, 2017

If White House advisers Stephen K. Bannon and Reince Priebus can come together, why can’t the Republican Party?

Both men united onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, both with different perspectives. Mr. Bannon represents economic nationalism, the populist wing of the party. His view of President Trump’s biggest accomplishment? Getting out of the Trans-Pacific Trade partnership, a trade-deal which was supported by many congressional Republicans.

Mr. Priebus, after chairing the Republican National Committee, has long been in the establishment. He thought Mr. Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court — heralded even by the Never Trumpers — was Mr. Trump’s biggest slam dunk, thus far.

And yet, both men have come together to work for Mr. Trump, who is redefining the Republican Party — as he should. It was his blend of economic populism, the focus on the forgotten man, along with his pro-life, religious freedom bent, that won him the presidency.

This is to the chagrin of many grass-root Republicans, who have long dominated CPAC. Mr. Trump came in third in last year’s CPAC presidential straw poll, only to have gone on to win the White House. Bloomberg News held a mock therapy session for last year’s attendees, who just couldn’t accept the notion of a Trump presidency.

Baffling yet, they still abound.

Editor-at-large of the conservative Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, has gone completely unhinged. On his Twitter feed, he’s been encouraging congressional Republicans to distance themselves from the Trump presidency.

“The dam is breaking,” Mr. Kristol wrote. “Republicans on the Hill beginning to feel free to move away from Trump in public.”

He then attached a story of Texas Sen. John Cornyn saying a border wall with Mexico — one of Mr. Trump’s key campaign promises — makes “absolutely no sense” in some areas.

Mr. Kristol also noted his preference of the “deep” establishment state, to that of a Trump state.

“Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state,” he wrote.

Conservative commentator Charlie Sykes has made a career for himself by opposing everything that Mr. Trump says or does. He wrote an editorial in The New York Times explaining “where the right went wrong,” after Mr. Trump’s win.

Let me say that again: after Mr. Trump’s win. After Republicans swept in November, claiming both the House of Representatives, the Senate, state legislatures and the presidency, leaving the Democrats the weakest they’ve been in a generation.

It’s time for all Republicans — the Libertarians, social conservatives, deficit hawks, neocons, tea-party activists — to join with the grassroots coalition that Mr. Trump built, the populists, nationalists and the forgotten man.

Together, the GOP would be unstoppable. Tax reform, health care, deregulation, school choice, veteran care, job growth, rebuilding our inner cities, tearing down the bureaucratic state, would all be doable.

Yes, conservatives will need to start to embrace the notions of renegotiating trade deals, having tougher immigration policies, spending on infrastructure and a warier stance on entering foreign entanglements. But that’s what the voters wanted — that’s the new Republican Party.

“If you look how much bigger our party has gotten this cycle,” Mr. Trump said during his remarks at CPAC on Friday. “We have an amazing, strong, powerful party that truly does want to see American be great again.”

It’s time to start working together.

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