A Trump-Freedom Caucus alliance is imperative to American prosperity
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British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, asked by his queen to explain the nation’s shifting alliances between France and Germany, responded: "We have no permanent friend. We have no permanent enemies. We just have permanent interests." President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE would do well to ponder the virtue of that axiom as he surveys the way forward for his legislative agenda – he may soon come to appreciate that today’s allies are tomorrow’s adversaries, and vice versa, and act accordingly.

When the GOP leadership’s healthcare bill died, Trump took to Twitter to excoriate the roughly three dozen members of the House Freedom Caucus. The conservative caucus objected to the bill, and had attempted to amend it so that it would have, well, actually repealed ObamaCare.

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In a 133-character tweet, Trump signaled the possibility of working to defeat these members of his own party in next year’s midterm elections: “The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” 

 

 

(It is worth noting that in the president’s tweet, the “Republican agenda” is synonymous with “Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanEmbattled Juul seeks allies in Washington Ex-Parkland students criticize Kellyanne Conway Latina leaders: 'It's a women's world more than anything' MORE’s agenda,” which is decidedly not the Republican platform that helped Republicans sail to victory in November.) 

The truth, of course, is that the Ryan-backed healthcare bill did not fail simply because the Freedom Caucus opposed it; in fact, the bill was pulled because there was an overwhelming shortage of votes for it, caused by liberal and moderate Republicans peeling off it, a shortage that cannot be blamed on the House Freedom Caucus.

At the end of the day, the Ryan healthcare bill failed because it purported to do one thing (repeal ObamaCare), while actually doing the opposite (leaving ObamaCare’s core insurance regulations in place, thereby further entrenching the unpopular law). The bill gave lip service to conservatism, while embracing Big Government and retaining its liberal worldview and leftist policy prescriptions. In many ways, the bill itself was a microcosm of the GOP Establishment, and perfectly illustrated all of the flaws in the prevailing GOP Establishment mindset.

Speaker Ryan and other Establishment Republicans – who spent much of 2016 not only distancing themselves from then-candidate Donald Trump, but actually going on the offense and attacking him – are the very people Trump mistook as being on his team during the healthcare fights. Indeed, there are no permanent enemies in Washington.

The same could be said about the House Freedom Caucus, Trump’s enemy du jour, which is likely to become his best friend in coming days, as the president attempts to maneuver a spending bill that includes his priorities – including a down payment on funding to build

the border wall, which was a signature feature of his platform and key component of his overall immigration policy. Here, establishment GOP leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAre Democrats turning Trump-like? House Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' Churches are arming and training congregants in response to mass shootings: report MORE are going to act as Trump’s enemies – they’ve already announced they will not attempt to include funding for the border wall in the upcoming spending bill – while members of the House Freedom Caucus members will be among Trump’s greatest friends, not only in helping to shore up votes, but also serving as surrogates in the media.

But it’s not just on policy grounds that the president will find the Freedom Caucus his natural ally; it’s in a shared belief and attitude about Washington and its establishment elite. This is where the president’s permanent interests coincide with the Freedom Caucus’s permanent interests. 

While the lines of friendship and enmity in Washington, D.C. are often indecipherable and frequently evolving, permanent interests are much easier to delineate. Trump’s permanent interest is to raze the Washington establishment, and that coincides with that of the Freedom Caucus.

That shared permanent interest in dismantling the Washington establishment transcends Washington’s beltway. Americans of all political stripes are keenly interested in putting Washington, DC on a level playing field with the rest of us. President Trump was elected because he promised to carry out one of the House Freedom Caucus’ enduring priorities – namely, taking on and defeating the Washington Powers That Be. There is a natural affinity between President Trump’s agenda and that of the House Freedom Caucus. And, if a permanent friendship is not possible, a formidable and long-lasting alliance would suffice and would serve the White House well.

From the perspective of the millions of Americans who voted in November to bring the Washington status quo to its knees, that type of an alliance is an imperative. 

Jenny Beth Martin is the president and co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.