- - Thursday, June 20, 2019


President Trump is accused by his critics, enemies and assorted soreheads of being the most divisive president since, well, maybe Chester Alan Arthur, or somebody. Perhaps he is, but much of the record of his first three years suggests that sometimes divisiveness works. He puts on a good show, too. His opening rally this week in Orlando, Florida, was a raucous whopper.

Despite sometimes hysterical opposition of the mainstream media, so called, and the Washington establishment; an endless investigation into collusion with Russia to cook the 2016 election; an implacably hostile opposition party and a do-nothing Congress; his eagerness to pick a fight with obscure critics and bursts of vulgarity and his lack of experience in politics national or otherwise, Donald Trump, real estate mogul and television star become president has built a record of performance that he can credibly run on for a second term, and with good prospects of success. This further infuriates the Democrats and other critics. He was supposed to be dead by now, and he definitely is not.

He made a small bonfire of crippling bureaucratic regulations, liberating American business to deploy capital and hire workers. He signed a tax cut that reduced rates on a large majority of American taxpayers, and brought the corporate tax rate in line with the rest of the developed world. The result is low unemployment, particularly for minorities. Best of all, middle-class Americans are getting a raise, too. Businesses are paying higher wages to recruit workers. This is how things are supposed to be — a true virtuous cycle. It’s a reminder, too, of how dreary things were during the eight years of the previous administration.

When Mr. Trump assumed office the economic “recovery,” such as it was, had been going on for years. The trouble was that while GDP growth was limping along, the average American was not feeling it. Wage growth was stagnant. Labor force participation was dismal. The de-industrialization that had begun in earnest with the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the 1990s was sadly continuing apace.

Mr. Trump, for decades a skeptic of free trade, has begun to redress some of the negative effects of global commerce. His rewriting of NAFTA, which “they” said couldn’t be done, is being done, though it probably does not go far enough. But it did win crucial concessions for, among others, American dairy farmers who had been badly exploited by Canada. Perhaps most consequentially, Mr. Trump’s tariffs on many Chinese goods caught the attention of China and its economy. This is what a slow but wildly overdue rebalancing free trade to make it actually free, looks like.

Mr. Trump has correctly identified Communist China as a global menace. The president’s tariffs on Chinese goods are not only an economic tool, but are designed to coerce Beijing into cleaning up its act on intellectual property theft. For years China has stolen technology from other countries. This is still a work in progress, but the president has recognized the threat, as previous presidents did not, and is doing something about it.

The president has rebuked our NATO allies for their pathetic underfunding of their own defense, casting them as the free-loaders they have been. Mr. Trump correctly called them out as easy riders, however the Davos crowd of globalists was scandalized when the president told them to do the right thing. But however reluctant they are, the European partners are finally committing to increasing defense spending. At the same time, the president has shown needed support for beleaguered reliable allies like Taiwan and Israel. He has encouraged the highest-level contacts between Taiwanese and U.S. officials ever. He moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a recognition of the plain fact that Jerusalem is indeed the Israeli capital, as well as a show of support for an American ally without many friends and a lot of enemies in the region.

But if there’s anything that has scandalized the elites it is Mr. Trump’s determination to bring order to out-of-control immigration into the United States. The president has often mused that if you don’t have a border, you don’t have a country. He’s correct. The modern system of nation-states is predicated not just on borders, but also the idea that every nation — even including the United States — gets to say who can come in and how.

Now we’re about to see what the people think of the president’s performance. The coming presidential campaign will be tough and mean. That’s because the stakes are high. The president can go to war well-armed.

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