President-elect Donald Trump salutes as he and his wife Melania arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, ahead of Friday’s inauguration. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)
Not since 1980 — or perhaps 1932 — has such a political revolution hit the banks of the Potomac River.
Donald Trump comes into the White House with a bright, clear mandate to make wholesale changes to every aspect of the federal government.
From the darkest corners of the bloated federal bureaucracy to the bright marble columns of the Supreme Court, Mr. Trump’s mandate is as broad as it is dramatic. Illegal immigration, international trade, education, Obamacare and America’s war against terrorism are all on the table for complete overhauls.
Refreshingly, Mr. Trump’s mandate is not a partisan one. He owes very little to the Republican Party and absolutely nothing to the Democratic Party. He handily defeated partisans on both sides of the political aisle.
He also owes nothing to any industry or special interest group except the voters who elected him and the free market system that made him a billionaire. He is owned by no one.
As a result, Mr. Trump stands poised to reinvent the entire federal government in favor of the American people alone. He is a tireless agent of disruption and an unbending force for creative destruction.
The fabulous, entertaining, funny, unpredictable and daring real estate tycoon achieved this historic political realignment using one very simple strategy: attack political correctness and all its vestiges and all its purveyors at every turn.
After all, what is Washington and the Leviathan federal bureaucracy and all of American politics today but a Cathedral of Political Correctness? Here there are protocols for everything. Everyone has titles, dress codes. Everybody knows their pew and if they sit in the wrong one there will be consequences.
Political campaigns and congressional hearings and Rose Garden announcements are all the little chapels inside the Cathedral where highly rehearsed skits and services play out over and over and over again. Speech is so tightly restricted here that politicians usually stick to carefully vetted — and often meaningless — “talking points.”
Donald Trump would not know a “talking point” if he saw one. He could barely get along with the teleprompter.
But he could talk.
And in plain English, he promised to re-invent the federal government from the ground up. People here were shocked, horrified, scandalized, frightened. But, outside Washington and the establishment media, people loved it.
Since the election — a stunning upset for all the “experts” around here — Mr. Trump has made abundantly clear he intends to complete the revolution he sparked. Just look at the people he has picked to fill his cabinet.
To a person, every single one of them threatens the very existence of the departments they have been picked to run.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry ran for president on the promise to eliminate the very Energy Department he has now been tasked to run. He may have reversed that bold promise, but that certainly doesn’t mean he won’t still radically alter the department.
Betsy DeVos has devoted her life to rescuing children from a deplorable public education system designed entirely to promote the interests of teacher’s unions and the Democrats they elect — students be damned. Her hearings to be Education Secretary devolved into ridiculous partisan squabbling over how many questions each senator got to ask.
During Rex Tillerson’s hearing to become secretary of State, Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, demanded that the globe-trotting dealmaker denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “war criminal.” Mr. Tillerson declined. Instead, he highlighted his desire to work with Russia to eliminate ISIS around the world.
It was a telling moment. A face-off between a grandstanding politician who just wanted to make a point and a strategic-thinking pragmatist who wants to accomplish something very concrete and vital to America’s existence.
Sen. Jeff Sessions used his hearings to become attorney general to showcase his commitment to enforcing all federal laws fairly and equally, without prejudice — something the Obama administration has failed to do, particularly with illegal immigration.
Retired Gen. Jim Mattis vowed to be Defense secretary over the most lethal fighting force possible. And all Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Democrat, cared about was how to make the military better accommodate people who are lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender or questioning.
“Frankly, Senator, I’ve never cared much about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with,” Gen. Mattis replied.
Not since Rhett Butler has the word “frankly” been so skillfully used to silence the pleadings of a desperate and delusional woman.
Perhaps the best example came in the written response Retired Gen. John Kelly supplied to senators considering his nomination to head the Department of Homeland Security.
Asked about how noncitizens are accepted in the Marine Corps, Gen. Kelly responded at length.
“The world inside the U.S. military is one many Americans would find fairly alien,” he wrote.
“It is a meritocracy. Achievement is earned, not given. It is a world where political correctness is rejected and not given any place at any table, a world where no one cares about skin color, what religion you might follow — if you follow any religion at all — or what political party you belong to, but only that you vote. Our only focus is to defend the nation.
“Once you make it through the entry-level process of background checks, you then complete boot camp, and, in my case, once you earn the title “Marine” — and it isn’t easy — no one cares whether you are a citizen or not. The non-citizen was no different from the citizen.”
An alien world, indeed, especially in the United States Senate.