Trump’s Next Move: Infrastructure

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I’ve changed my mind on priority.

Instead of going to tax reform next, President Trump should work on that big-league infrastructure bill. Now. Fast.

President Trump needs a big win because power is in perception. He also needs to put Democrats in a bind. Plus, he needs to prove he can pass big legislation without all GOP factions on board.

The solution is infrastructure.

During the campaign, Trump spoke of a massive building project to rejuvenate our roads, modernize our airports, and more. Trump’s dream sounds more like a traditional Democrat plan than a Republican idea. (Unless you count Eisenhower and Reagan as Republicans.) Shifting to infrastructure now could more than overcome Trump’s defeat on health care.

Infrastructure Can Pass

Trump’s best known for building his way to billionaire status. That makes Trump seem like an expert on the subject. No one considered Trump an expert on government health care. And no one can deny that he’s an expert on building big, huge, beautiful things and running them great.

Byron York, one of my favorite columnists, makes a great point today in a column called “14 Lessons from the GOP Obamacare Debacle“:

Had Trump and the House GOP tackled, say, an infrastructure bill first, the story from Capitol Hill would have been a president and Congress giving things to the American people — surely a more popular legislative start to an already controversial presidency.

Even though infrastructure will have enemies in the GOP, Congressmen and Senators from Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania know that jobs matter. Democrat governors are openly salivating for the projects. So are a lot of Republican state legislatures, though less publicly.

Infrastructure projects promise both immediate, short-term jobs and longer term boosts to productivity and growth. Even some Freedom Caucus members from the rust belt will feel obliged to get on board this train.

But that’s not the best part.

Democrats Will Cross Over for Infrastructure

Trump’s relationships with labor unions are already high for a Republican president. Now, he needs to deliver something to that small but well-funded and activist constituency. He needs to deliver jobs.

Democrats know they can’t fight Trump on a bill that puts a lot of union members to work. Infrastructure will attract enough Democrat votes to neutralize the Freedom Caucus, which will probably oppose the legislation.

And that last point is perhaps the most important.

Courting Democrats Builds Leverage With Republicans

President Trump and Reince Priebus both said they are more willing to work with Democrats now than before the health care debacle. That’s smart negotiating. It’s leverage.

If you remember back to 2015, a lot of Republicans were complaining that many of Trump’s ideas sounded more like a Democrat. That means Trump would be completely consistent with himself if he sought more support from the other party.

Plus, in 2020, Trump won’t be judged by how happy he made 40 members of the Freedom Caucus. He’ll be judged by whether or not he made America great again in the eyes of voters. That’s just the way it is.

And the GOP’s majorities in Congress are so slim that Trump really needs some Democrats down the road. He could have used a dozen in the House on Friday. He will definitely some in the Senate for just about everything.

Again, hat tip to Byron York for reminding us:

Find more votes. Unless there is exceptional unity on an issue, the GOP doesn’t have enough votes to ignore Democrats and pass big legislation entirely on its own. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid (barely) passed Obamacare with 253 Democrats in the House and 60 in the Senate. Paul Ryan has 237 Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has 52. The GOP has virtually no room for error.

If every major bill relies on every Republican faction, Trump will accomplish nothing and Democrats will take the House in 2018. Believe me, Democrats will take the House in 2018 if Trump and the Republicans don’t get big things done. (I’m not alone on this. Ted Cruz agrees with me.)

As we saw last week, even after Mark Meadows and David Brat reach an agreement with House leadership and the White House, Meadows and Brat might not deliver the Freedom Caucus. There’s a chance that group will oppose all major legislation, including tax reform if it’s not to their liking. So Trump needs to attract some Democrats now, and infrastructure is the low-hanging fruit.

And timing is important on getting those Democrat cross-overs.

Commitment and Consistency

The sooner some Democrats hold their noses and vote for a Trump initiative, the more Trump can rely on those Democrats in the future. You know this because of the persuasion principle called “commitment and consistency.” The longer Democrats vote “no” on everything the president proposes, the harder it will be for them to get behind the president later.

Researchers find in numerous studies that getting people to take an easy, painless step now makes it more likely that they’ll take a harder, more painful step in the future. That’s because the brain is wired to display consistency with past commitments.

With the right messaging, those Democrats who support the bill will make a statement of commitment to jobs, growth, and making America great again. When it comes time to vote on tax reform, Trump just needs to wrap that legislation in the same commitment language.

A strong move on infrastructure would make a lot of people happy. Happy people see more positives than unhappy people. That makes it easier for people find positives in future, tougher legislation like tax reform.

If Trump makes a strong move on infrastructure in the next two weeks, his larger vision will pick up steam after the summer recess. And the warring factions in the GOP will have to consider this: are their interests better off if they negotiate with Trump or if the Democrats negotiate with Trimp?

Voters will judge Republicans on what they get done between now and the 2018 elections. So far, they’re putting up goose eggs. A big win on infrastructure will make a lot of people happy and forge new alliances that can make America great again.

What No One’s Telling You About Donald Trump

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Relax as you read, because knowledge is power. This simple post will arm you with powerful knowledge that will help you navigate the election. And it will only take a few minutes. No time at all.

Here’s what the press refuses to tell you: The man in the picture is the next President of the United States. You might as well start calling him “President Trump.”

Three national polls came out this week. Trump leads in all of them. And he’s in first place on the RCP Average, a sort of poll of polls. One hundred percent leads for Donald Trump. Fox News, Rasmussen, and ABC News/Washington Post all show the same thing: America loves Trump. And, as hockey color man Darren Pang would say, why wouldn’t we?

Build On Strengths

Business management guru Peter Drucker liked to remind his clients and readers that people of great strength are also people of great weakness. He urged managers to avoid hiring people who had no downside, no baggage, no weaknesses because those people also had no vision, no potential, and no strengths. In The Effective Executive, Drucker demonstrated the principle of building on strengths using Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant:

President Lincoln when told that General Grant, his new commander-in-chief, was fond of the bottle said: “If I knew his brand, I’d send a barrel or so to some other generals.” After a childhood on the Kentucky and Illinois frontier, Lincoln assuredly knew all about the bottle and its dangers. But of all the Union generals, Grant alone had proven consistently capable of planning and leading winning campaigns. Grant’s appointment was the turning point of the Civil War. It was an effective appointment because Lincoln chose his general for his tested ability to win battles and not for his sobriety, that is, for the absence of a weakness.

Lincoln learned this the hard way however. Before he chose Grant, he had appointed in succession three or four Generals whose main qualifications were their lack of major weaknesses. As a result, the North, despite its tremendous superiority in men and materiel, had not made any headway for three long years from 1861 to 1864. In sharp contrast, Lee, in command of the Confederate forces, had staffed from strength. Every one of Lee’s generals, from Stonewall Jackson on, was a man of obvious and monumental weaknesses. But these failings Lee considered— rightly— to be irrelevant. Each of them had, however, one area of real strength— and it was this strength, and only this strength, that Lee utilized and made effective. As a result, the “well-rounded” men Lincoln had appointed were beaten time and again by Lee’s “single-purpose tools,” the men of narrow but very great strength.*

You might have heard about Donald Trump’s great weaknesses. He doesn’t drink like U.S. Grant did, but he has other weaknesses. He has a weakness for beautiful women, especially women from Eastern Europe. He has a weakness for speaking his mind, especially on Twitter. He has a weakness for counterpunching those who attack him. He has a weakness for trying new businesses and business models. He has a weakness for reminding people of his amazing accomplishments in life, like turning a $1 million gift from his father into a $10 billion real estate empire.

Those are all great weaknesses, are they not?

Those weaknesses are offset by some amazing strengths, just like Drucker said. But no one tells you about Donald Trump’s strengths. Except for Donald Trump. As Trump begins his march toward a crushing landslide win in November, some familiarity with Donald Trump’s great strengths will make your thinking more powerful, and powerful thinking makes powerful decisions, does it not?

Some of Trump’s Great Strengths

Here are some of Trump’s strengths:

Strengths Matter

The more strengths you have, the better you’ll do, and a lack of weaknesses means an absence of strengths.

Americans seem to have fallen in love with people who have no weaknesses, and that’s a terrible thing. We say want candidates who are flawless. But, as we have seen here, flawless characters are boring and incompetent. They screw everything up, even though they screw it up slowly, over time. But mediocrity is un-American, isn’t it? Don’t you want to Make America Great Again? I do.

[yop_poll id=”10″]

Almost everyone in America agrees our country is headed in the wrong direction on almost every measure. Turning around a great country of 320 million people will take great strength, won’t it? If it were easy, we’d have done it already.

The reason Trump now leads in every major poll released this week: people want strength. We’ve seen the failure of electing or nominating people who lack weaknesses. People without weaknesses are losers.

I think it’s time to elect to a man of many great strengths, even if that means cringing at his weaknesses. You probably have both strengths and weaknesses, too, right? Well, don’t you want a president like you?

Now you’re armed with the power of knowledge. You know that Trump is winning all the major polls, and you know he’s a man of great weaknesses and great strengths, like Abraham Lincoln demanded in his greatest general. You probably feel better about yourself, and you’re probably proud to know that everyone will be saying “President Trump” like you very soon.

If you have weaknesses, you should tell everyone in the comments. You can tell us about your amazing strengths, too, if you’d like. People like reading your comments.


*Drucker, Peter F. (2009-10-06). The Effective Executive (Harperbusiness Essentials) (p. 72). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.


I bet Donald Trump reads my blog

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Donald Trump probably reads my blog first thing every day.

Until today, I figured Donald Trump never heard of me. He’s never mentioned me  in his tweet storms. He’s never called me an idiot or a liar during a debate. He’s never pointed to one of my many egregious typos and tweeted:

“@whennessy left out the word ‘for’. Confused everyone. Worst blogger in politics. Just sad.”

(The guy has 2.6 6.35 million followers. I’ll send him a small donation if he tweet-storms me. His twitterhood is like a small country!)

In the past two years, I’ve talked about two broad themes.

In 2014, my big theme was the New Political Dichotomy. In 2015, my big theme was leading with the people we want to help (inspired by Arthur C. Brooks of American Enterprise Institute).

I never thought about Donald Trump when I ruminated on those themes. Donald Trump seems like the antithesis of both. Until you read quotes from interviews with people who voted for him in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Then it smacks you in the head. His voters see America’s greatest threat as the idiot political elites who don’t listen and don’t speak to them.

So it turns out I was 100 percent, totally right in both of those themes. More right than even I thought I was.

Let me do a quick summary of those two years in blogging for you.

2014: The New Political Dichotomy

The old battle lines of American politics have been erased. The battle is no longer Left vs. Right, Liberal (or Progressive) vs. Conservative, Democrat vs. Republican, Statism vs. Liberty, or any other old battle. They’re all over.

The new dichotomy is Elites (or Establishment) vs. Plebes (or the Rest of Us).

In this new dichotomy, winners will be those who can let go of the bitterness from the old dichotomy. We might have to work with old enemies because there’s a greater common threat. For example, in the old dichotomy, we would simply trash whatever came from the mouths of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. In the new dichotomy, we recognize that Sanders and Warren are 100 percent right about many of the problems they identify, but the solutions they offer are horrible. Instead of pretending (lying) that they’re wrong about corporations and big banks and crony capitalism, we should say “right on,” and offer the free market or liberty solution to the common problem. That’s the new dichotomy.

2015: Lead With the People You Intend to Help

This is about message more than substance, because messaging is killing conservatism and liberty. Conservatism, Constitutional integrity, and liberty are all abstract concepts. People who worry about those things respond to those words, but that’s only about 19 percent of Americans. That leaves 81 percent rolling their eyes and shaking their heads at us as we defend our dogma. On August 10 I wrote:

While the dogma must have its defenders, preaching the dogma guarantees that we remain nothing more than an irritant to the Republican establishment and a godsend to progressives.

Why? Because most people don’t care about our dogma. They care about getting through life the best they can. And it’s not their job to figure out how our orthodoxy helps them do that.

Our job is to translate our principles into broad, moral direction for our country with specific goals that will make people’s lives better. Shouting “liberty,” repeating historical chants like “give me liberty or give me death,” doesn’t improve anyone’s life, even the speaker’s.

Ted Cruz talks about abstract concepts, but Ronald Reagan talked more like Trump. Reagan was milder than Trump, but he used language the same way. Here’s an example: In Cruz’s announcement speech at Liberty University, he mentioned “conservative” or “conservatism” six times. Ronald Reagan never used the term when he announced his run in 1979. Reagan talked to regular people about their lives. We latter day conservatives chat amongst ourselves about abstract concepts,  then we wonder why 81 percent of Americans tune us out.

Donald Trump “Tells It Like It Is

More accurately, people hear Donald Trump tell it like he sees it. Even if they don’t agree, people love the fact that he’s plainspoken and blunt. As he sees it, the elites who’ve been running America are stupid, and they’re getting their asses handed to them by America’s trading partners and enemies. And ordinary, working Americans pay the price for our leaders’ stupidity. When he’s president, he’ll build a wall to keep illegals out, and he’ll make Mexico pay for it. He’ll be the toughest trade negotiator God ever created, and he’ll negotiate deals that will make American companies want to move jobs back to the U.S. of A. Millions and millions of great jobs people can be proud of. He’ll build a military so strong and so well trained and so well equipped that nobody will ever even consider messing with us ever again. And he doesn’t want people dropping dead in the streets because they couldn’t afford a doctor. Terrorists? He’ll torture their asses. You have a country or you don’t.

You can’t get tastier concrete at Ted Drewes. Not a single abstract principle in the mix. Agree or disagree with his positions or his temperament, the man speaks in words you can chew.

The reason Donald Trump has the broadest and deepest support in the 2016 race is because he speaks in concrete imagery from the perspective of the Plebes in the New Dichotomy. Trump leads with the people he wants to help. There’s nothing more concrete than a wall. There’s no one who deserves more help than someone who wants to work and can’t find a decent job.

And nothing builds loyalty like helping someone help himself.

I’m not saying Trump is a conservative. I’m not saying he’ll make a great president. And I’m not saying Trump actually believes everything he says. I really don’t know. I am saying he probably reads my blog and decided to put to the test my ideas of a new dichotomy expressed in concrete terms about the people he wants to help.

And so far, the test is working, so I guess I was right. Good for me!

Too bad more candidates don’t read me.

UPDATE: David Limbaugh echoes many of my points on messaging, specifically for Ted Cruz. In Suggested Cruz Campaign Reboot: Show, Don’t Tell, Limbaugh says:

Ted Cruz has everything it takes to be an extraordinary — even historic — president and lead the nation out of its current quagmire.

He just needs to say what he’s going to do, in concrete terms, and underscore why he can be counted on more than all others to do it — because of his record, his commitment to action and his demonstrated courage in fighting establishment power brokers who will resist him.

The whole article is excellent. You should go read it.

NOTE: I removed a photoshopped version of the fake Trump tweet. It caused way too much confusion.