By Backing The Establishment, Trump Hampers His Voters’ Agenda

By Backing The Establishment, Trump Hampers His Voters’ Agenda

Donald Trump’s case for the presidency is reinforced by the notion that he supports conservative policies and puts Americans’ needs first. This assertion is often undermined by the president’s habit of endorsing establishment candidates who oppose his agenda.

The latest example of this phenomenon came last Thursday when Trump endorsed incumbent Sen. Roger Wicker in Mississippi’s upcoming 2024 GOP Senate primary. Writing on Truth Social, the former president claimed Wicker is “a fantastic Senator for the Great State of Mississippi” and “is a Champion of Conservative Values.” Wicker has served in the Senate since 2007 and, prior to that, starting in 1995, represented Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District in the House.

Contrary to Trump’s assertion, Wicker’s track record is hardly that of a rock-solid “conservative.” Within the past several years, Mississippi’s senior senator supported nearly every major omnibus spending bill that’s come across his desk. In the waning weeks of 2022, for example, Wicker was one of 18 Senate Republicans to side with Democrats in advancing a pork-filled, $1.7 trillion spending package that effectively took away any and all leverage the House’s then-incoming Republican majority had over spending issues for most of 2023. That vote came months after Wicker backed a $1.5 trillion omnibus bill funding President Biden’s federal Covid vaccine mandate.

Wicker has regularly supported shipping endless amounts of U.S. taxpayer money to Ukraine. The Mississippi Republican was one of 22 Senate GOPers to help Democrats pass a $95 billion foreign spending package that included funds for (mostly) Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. The measure did not, however, include provisions addressing the ongoing invasion at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Wicker has also voted to confirm radical Biden appointees such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The latter of whom colluded with former intel officials to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop story ahead of the 2020 election to help Joe.

A Tale As Old As Time

Wicker is hardly the only establishment candidate to receive Trump’s support during a critically important Republican primary.

Months ahead of the 2020 North Carolina Senate GOP primary, for instance, the former president preemptively endorsed incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis among a crowded field of challengers. In his remarks, Trump praised the Republican senator as someone who is “Strong on the Border and fights hard against Illegal Immigration.” Yet, Tillis has demonstrated the exact opposite behavior since winning reelection.

Prior to Republicans assuming control of the House in January 2023, Tillis, along with Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, reportedly pressed Senate leadership to fast-track consideration of their bipartisan “immigration reform” bill before Congress’s lame-duck session ended. These “reforms” allegedly included provisions establishing a so-called “pathway to citizenship” — which usually involves bypassing the pathway that already exists — for 2 million illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors.

Much like Wicker, Tillis has also been a big supporter of dumping U.S. taxpayer dollars into Ukraine. Ahead of the Senate’s passage of the aforementioned $95 billion foreign spending package — which Tillis supported — the North Carolina Republican insulted the intelligence of conservative voters by claiming: “Our base cannot possibly know what’s at stake at the level that any well-briefed U.S. senator should know about what’s at stake if Putin wins.”

He also previously supported gun control legislation and a bill redefining the traditional definition of marriage.

A few other GOP establishment candidates endorsed by Trump in recent cycles include Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and Dr. Mehmet Oz, who ran for Pennsylvania’s Senate seat in 2022.

A Silver Lining

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand Trump’s endorsement philosophy. If a candidate says nice things about him, they’re likely to receive his support.

Yet, despite his track record of endorsing squishy candidates, the former president has shown that he can be a powerful force in kicking establishment figures to the curb. Case in point: Texas, where several GOP state House candidates backed by Trump defeated — or forced into runoffs — incumbents who supported the failed impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Among these is Republican David Covey, who managed to force House Speaker Dade Phelan into a runoff election. In addition to leading the impeachment against Paxton, Phelan has used his position as speaker to stymie various conservative legislative priorities, such as election integrity.

Unlike their establishment-backed rivals, grassroots candidates often lack the financial and political capital necessary to mount a successful campaign. While Trump’s endorsement doesn’t guarantee victory, it can go a long way in elevating the profile and name ID of these candidates. And in politics, name ID is everything. If nobody knows who you are or what you stand for, they’re less likely to vote for you.

Trump would be well-advised to take a harder look at GOP candidates’ portfolios before handing out endorsements like candy on Halloween if he has any interest in furthering an “America First” agenda. Otherwise, he should continue to expect these same feckless Republicans to betray him — and, more importantly, his voters — at every possible opportunity.

Shawn Fleetwood is a staff writer for The Federalist and a graduate of the University of Mary Washington. He previously served as a state content writer for Convention of States Action and his work has been featured in numerous outlets, including RealClearPolitics, RealClearHealth, and Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnFleetwood

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[By: Shawn Fleetwood

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