It took them nearly a year to pass anything meaningful. This fact is absolutely ridiculous as they’ve had over six years to prepare for the inevitable control of the House, Senate, and White House once Obamacare passed and sealed the short-term fate of the Democrats. Coming into 2017 flatfooted and disorganized was inexcusable, but that’s what happened. They can’t let it happen again in 2018.

Most conservative pundits say their next task is selling the tax cuts they just passed to the American people. This is somewhat true, but it’s more of a game of attachment rather than hitting the streets and selling it as some are suggesting. They need to hope the economy stays strong and point to the tax cuts any time good things happen. This doesn’t take much effort. They just have to be aware of their fiscal surroundings.

Now, their goal must be to get more accomplished if they have any hope of retaining control of both the House and the Senate with the 2018 election. Now’s not a popular time to sound skeptical. Most Republicans have high spirits, but this tax bill will not suddenly convert voters to support them come election day. It can, however, be used to drag some of them down. That’s the curse of a majority.

For full disclosure, my skepticism is rooted in a year-long detachment from the GOP. I stopped being an apologist and started trying to build an alternative in the Federalist Party. I do everything I can to be fair, highlighting when Republicans do well and denouncing when they do things that continue to expand the government, increase spending, or build more reliance on DC in areas they don’t belong.

I’m an American before a Federalist which is why I can, in good conscience, give the GOP advice. If they play it safe in 2018 and let tax cuts do all the talking for them come election time, they’ll lose big time. They definitely won’t plan on doing that, but if they can’t come together in the Senate, tax cuts may be all they really have. They need much more.

Here’s a short list of accomplishments they need to add to their resume for 2018. Keep in mind that there are plenty of other things they need to do, but some of it will need to wait until after 2018. They need to get certain things accomplished before the election knowing they may not have the same opportunity after it. They also will have to save certain issues until after the election. As badly as we need entitlement reform, I can’t see that being on the table until after the 2020 election no matter how hard Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pushes for it.

Their 2018 to-do list:

  • Repeal Obamacare: This is non-negotiable. It’s the reason they have a majority in the first place. They missed their opportunity to do it early in the summer when public sentiment supported repealing it. Now that sentiment has shifted under them, they may be tempted to table it. This would be a catastrophic mistake. The Republican base that gave them their Capitol Hill majorities will not be energized by a request for two more years after being given everything they need to repeal it already. This has to happen early. It cannot wait until around election time. They need to repeal Obamacare before the summer and then hit the road selling whatever plan replaces it.
  • Fund the Wall: Some would argue they should wait until 2019 so they can ride it to another term for President Trump. There’s some validity to this argument, but what’s more valid is the questioning they’ll get if they can’t deliver before the election. Who will be asking those questions? President Trump. They can’t prompt him to turn on them.
  • Pass a Weak DACA Fix: I wish I could say they’ll let DACA die, but that’s not going to happen. Even a good chunk of their base has followed the President’s lead in softening on Dreamers, so Republicans in Congress have a problem. If they pass a strong DACA fix, the Democrats will make it their victory. The only way Republicans can keep their own base energized is to pass something weak under Democratic protest that still “fixes” DACA.
  • Defund Planned Parenthood: If taxpayers are still paying for abortion come election time, the GOP will be officially worthless to social conservatives. This isn’t an issue where the sentiment can be shifted. The lines are drawn. They must defund it and let them raise their own money. They’ll be fine on their own, and those who have lukewarm support for Planned Parenthood need to see they’ll be fine so it doesn’t become an issue during the election.
  • Tackle Cyberterrorism: George W. Bush won his second term because he had the war and a terrorist boogeyman keeping Americans concerned. We simply didn’t trust John Kerry to protect us. Now that the threats against us have shifted, the GOP needs to build themselves up as the party capable of protecting us from North Korea, Islamic terrorism, and cyberterrorism. The President will help with the first two,  so all Congress needs to do is make be proactive against the third.

There are plenty of other things that need to happen, but this is strictly for the election itself.

It makes me cringe knowing how many decisions are made in Washington DC based upon election campaigns rather than the well-being of the nation. That’s the biggest problem with a two-party system. The ruling party’s agenda is driven by party first, America second. Sometimes these goals are aligned. Other times, they’re in direct opposition. We need to end the duopoly. Otherwise, we’ll continue to be stuck with representatives who think no more than two years ahead with all of their decisions.

Despite prognostications by #NeverTrumpers going into President Trump’s first year in office, he hasn’t been the liberal Democratic plant some expected him to be. I expected a couple of liberal programs and policies to hit this year, but so far they have all been pushed forward. 2017 has focused on Obamacare repeal, dismantling the regulatory state, improving border security, getting right-leaning judges on the bench, and our latest push for tax cuts.

This is good and bad news for conservatives. It’s good because we’ve been able to stay focused on the active components of the agenda and so far those active components have been aligned ideologically. I could go into great detail about the failings of the false attempts to repeal Obamacare (we were presented with “tweak and rebrand” efforts instead of “repeal and replace”) or the small degree we’ve been taking down the regulatory state (it should be a three-pronged attack with major cuts instead of the minor PR victories we’ve been seeing), but at least they’re sort of trying. It could have been worse.

Rich Lowry over at National Review went after those who continue to point to President Trump’s liberal actions when in reality, they haven’t been as liberal as many of us thought they’d be. I was on the verge of contacting him to explain what I’m about to write about here, but he finished the article by acknowledging what everyone needs to know.

The good conservative stuff was intentionally frontloaded into the administration’s agenda. Before the midterm elections, expect the White House and Congress to push the populist and liberal aspects of their agenda:

  • The trillion-dollar infrastructure plan that mirrors Chuck Schumer’s plan nicely will get a big push
  • Amnesty may be coming, regardless of what they call or it or how the President tries to justify it
  • “Fair trade” is still being pushed hard as the Establishment tries to convince conservatives in 1984 doublespeak style that we are opposed to free trade and have always been opposed to free trade
  • Budgets are going to be quietly engorged until the GOP is able to spend more money than we did in the Obama era
  • A continuation of silence on social issues; we’re still funding Planned Parenthood even today

It’s important for conservatives to be cognizant of all these things and anything else that screams of creeping liberalism coming from the GOP-controlled House, Senate, and White House. All of them, particularly the President himself, have demonstrated a willingness to be reasonable and even malleable when it comes to denouncing liberal ideas. We have to be loud. We have to be willing to oppose even when faux-conservative sheep announce their undying support for whatever their dear leader pushes. Be aggressive. Stay conservative.