As President Obama walks through the ruins in Greece on his European farewell tour, President-elect Donald Trump is figuring out how to clean up the mess he’s been left with. It’s a fitting narrative, because what has been happening in Greece could certainly happen here.
Back in 2012 during the riots in Greece, Reince Priebus (Trump’s newly appointed Chief of Staff) commented at a dinner in Newport, RI that Greece had become a country of “irrational takers.” In his home state of Wisconsin, where a Civil War-like union fight took place that same year, Priebus helped his friend Governor Scott Walker beat them back saying, “I don’t think we can get pushed around anymore by Big Labor.” Fighting is nothing new to Priebus.
This election Priebus fended off the GOP establishment from derailing the Trump campaign. And now he’s tasked with figuring out how to get Trump’s plan into law while at the same time taking the edge off of new Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. The Priebus crowd voted for: Anybody but Hillary, Mike Pence, or Trump with reservations. The Bannon crowd voted TRUMP! and some got MAGA (Make America Great Again) tattoos. The combination of the two, Priebus and Bannon or “Priennon,” might thread the needle of a smaller Washington which is what both groups want.
But we can’t have it all today. And that’s where the Priebus pick is smart. Priebus knows how Washington works. He is also good friends with House Speaker Paul Ryan and he could be the glue that brings Congress and the Trump administration together. The long game here is that we can have a movement away from Washington and back to the states. Because the states are ready. They voted no to Obama.
And that’s the earthquake of this election. It was a revolt by the states against Obama. He was Trump’s Trojan Horse. In “Trump’s Secret Weapon: Obama” Kimberly Strassel of the WSJ ran through the numbers. When Obama took office, Democrats held 257 House seats, now they hold only 193 with one third of that in three states: New York, California, and Massachusetts. When Obama took office Democrats had 29 governorships and now they have only 15, with North Carolina still counting votes. For the first time since 1922, 33 out of 50 governorships (see Cato’s report card on Americas governors) are held by the GOP. Back in 2010 Democrats held 60 of 99 state legislative chambers, now it’s 30. Democrats hold control of the governorship and both legislative chambers in exactly 5 states. You get the point.
In a perfect world we would take power away from Washington and give it back to the states like our Founders intended. We would be more like Switzerland where the presidency is more of a ceremonial office. The swamp in Washington needs to be drained but we need a swamp guide. Obama spent eight years pleasing, as Priebus pointed out about Greece—a country of irrational takers. It’s time for Trump, with the help of Priebus, to take our country back.