The past year was one of phenomenal accomplishments for President Trump and for the conservative movement.
First and foremost, our economy continued to surge ahead, the stock market soared, and job and salary growth drove unemployment rates lower and the standard of living ever higher. Joe Biden may have tried to make the case in the last Democratic debate that the middle class is getting “killed” in this economy, but only the most starry-eyed of partisans could believe that, uh, malarkey. The state of our economic union has seldom been stronger.
In foreign policy, Trump resisted the siren song of the warmongers and neocons, avoiding new military entanglements and setting us on the path of eventual withdrawal from Syria, Afghanistan and West Africa. He continued to extend an olive branch to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which may or may not be accepted someday.
He successfully challenged our NATO allies to shoulder more of the burden of our common defense. Above all, Trump has been true to his word: he has been an “America First” president, who involves the United States in foreign conflicts only when our vital national interests are at stake.
On trade, Trump achieved major new free-trade agreements with Japan and Canada/Mexico, and he stood firm in our trade war with China — the first American president to stand up to China and its trade manipulation in the post-Cold War era. America's willingness to play hard ball on trade even had the important consequence that Mexico stepped up its efforts to combat illegal immigration. A year that began with a tidal wave of irregular migration, much of it from Central America, is ending with many miles of new border fortifications in place, and illegal crossings way down.
Trump secured record levels of funding for the U.S. military and for veterans, keeping his promise to maintain our national security and to do right by the brave men and women who fight, and have fought, on our behalf. Moreover, Trump added a new branch to the U.S. armed forces for the first time in more than 70 years: the Space Force. America is thus well-positioned to be a leader in both the civilian and military exploitation of space, the “Final Frontier.”
Will the United States of the Milky Way someday herald Donald J. Trump as one of its founders? It would be foolish to scoff.
Perhaps most consequentially, in the medium term, Trump, in cooperation with Mitch McConnell and a solid Republican majority in the Senate, maintained a steady flow of conservative, originalist judges to the federal bench. This is the Trumpian accomplishment that inflicts the most consternation on liberals and, not coincidentally, it is the accomplishment that patriots and conservatives should most prize, because it guarantees that those who believe in and cherish our Constitution will have a powerful voice in debates about our country's future for decades to come.
Perversely, we have the Democrats to thank for another potentially salutary development in 2019: the partisan, political and unpopular impeachment of the president. The chances of Trump's removal from office are zero — but the chances that this farce of an impeachment will represent, in effect, a donation-in-kind to Trump's re-election campaign, and to Republicans trying to unseat swing-district Democrats in the House, are substantial.
The albatross of impeachment, hanging around the necks of so-called moderate Democrats, combined with the stupefying weakness of the Democratic field of presidential candidates, may be the necessary preconditions for conservative and Republican wins in 2020 and beyond, portending even more Trumpian progress in the years ahead.
All in all, 2019 was a banner year for President Trump and for all those who believe in the values and goals of his popular, conservative movement. We have much to be thankful for, and ample reason to believe that 2020 will be a year filled with opportunity and optimism for our great country.
(Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an associate professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at www.waddyisright.com.)