If there is one word — one defining, all-encompassing word — that has summed up the state of the Republican Party for years (if not decades), it’s “spineless.” Whether the issue has been illegal immigration, the budget, standing up to Planned Parenthood, or even the wildly unpopular and disastrous Obamacare, Republican “leaders” have tucked their collective tails between their legs rather than stand up and fight. But something remarkable seems to be in the air, and there’s no doubt that the change in resolve has been brought about by Donald J. Trump.
Remember all the rhetoric concerning Obamacare? Analysts said it would fail. Obama officials even admitted they lied about terms. No, you can’t keep your own doctor. No, you can’t keep your own plan. No, prices will not be lower. Republican legislators said they would repeal it. They voted to repeal it. Oh, but wait. Barack Obama was still president, and the Republican votes were simply a side show next to Mr. Obama’s veto. When Donald Trump first came on the scene, he said he would sign legislation repealing Obamacare, but the GOP couldn’t get it done. They showed their complete lack of fortitude and rolled over.
That’s just one example of many, many other issues. Some in the GOP thought resisting Mr. Trump was the way to go. Others simply want to be part of the establishment of a Democratic and Republican ruling class that doesn’t want to rock the boat or stir up the ire of the “deep state.” Still, there were other House and Senate Republicans that I believe want to do the right thing, except that they have the skeleton of a jellyfish.
Thankfully, Mr. Trump is not a jellyfish, and from the beginning he has taken on the media and its endless “fake news” stories. He has delivered on every single policy initiative that he can. Taxes are lower. Regulations are fewer. The Islamic State (ISIS) is being decimated. The economy is up, up, up. Oh, and unemployment is down, down, down. The unemployment rate is at its lowest in nearly 50 years, and Hispanic unemployment is at its lowest rate ever. All of these successes add up. Each gives Republicans a little bit of cover to speak out. Each success also reveals those Republicans who have no business being in the GOP.
With all those policy achievements, the greatest of all (so far) has been Mr. Trump’s picks for the U.S. Supreme Court and his steadfast support of his nominees. His pick of Neil Gorsuch came without much of a fight. After all, it was a conservative for a conservative (Antonin Scalia). Brett Kavanaugh was a different story. The left feared he was the one who would fundamentally change the balance of the court, perhaps for a generation, and those on the left decided to fight.
Heroes emerged in the form of Republican legislators such as Sens. Chuck Grassley and Susan Collins. Despite the unprecedented attacks by the Democrats and left-wing activists on the newly seated Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the GOP transformed into a united bloc (minus Sen. Lisa Murkowski) thanks to a backbone supplied by Mr. Trump.
No one stood out bigger or brighter than Sen. Lindsey Graham. When he first emerged on the scene, many thought he would be a solid conservative from a solid conservative state. As time went on, he seemed to be cut more from the Bush wing than the Reagan wing. But when he spoke at the Kavanaugh hearing in which Brett Kavanaugh himself spoke passionately regarding the baseless allegations against him, Mr. Graham took on the role of titan. Was there any conservative watching the hearing who didn’t stand up and cheer when Mr. Graham delivered his admonishment of the Democrats and their “seek and destroy” tactics?
Polls now show that the Democrats’ so-called “enthusiasm advantage” going into the midterm elections has evaporated. Republicans are energized, and what could have been a lackluster election or one where Democrats gained some substantial ground, now has the potential to be a gain for Republicans. Imagine what could be accomplished with just a few more true conservatives in Washington.
The president has delivered on his promises. He has given us an environment where people are working, and spending and businesses are booming. Those results alone should have been enough for Republican legislators to start acting like real Republicans. However, it was Mr. Trump’s determination to fight for Brett Kavanaugh that gave Republican Party members (at least some of them) the backbones that they needed.
In order to move this agenda forward, the GOP cannot be the party of jellyfish. Mr. Trump has supplied the backbone. Now, the American people will find out which Republican Party members are the true squishes and which ones are now willing to fight for conservative principles.
• Bobby Eberle, a race car driver and former aerospace engineer, is the founder of GOPUSA.com.