This week has been unusually short — pared on one side by Labor Day, and by Hurricane Irma on the other. But the brief, three-day whirlwind may have been the most consequential thus far of Donald Trump’s presidency.
When he rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and invited Congress to replace it, Trump returned the legislative power to its rightful branch. And when he struck a surprise deal with Democrats to lift the debt ceiling until December, he restored — however briefly — the basic comity necessary for our system to function.
Both of these moves were controversial — and confusing. Conservatives wondered, for good reason, whether Trump had rescinded DACA only to let Congress pass a blanket amnesty for its beneficiaries. And they asked themselves what had become of their party’s hopes to rein in the national debt, which helped fuel the Tea Party wave of 2010.
On substance, Trump has a long way to go before implementing the kinds of policies that would fulfill the promises he made to his supporters, and fulfill the dreams of conservatives who hardly dared to imagine, a year ago, that they would control all three branches of government.
But Trump has done more than conservatives dreamed possible to make our constitutional system of limited, divided, yet responsive government work as it was designed once again.
That process of repair and restoration has been the Trump administration’s silent agenda since January. He began by faithfully executing the law along the country’s borders, letting border patrol and immigration and customs officers do their jobs, slashing illegal immigration by some two-thirds. He continued by overturning excessive regulations that restrained our energy industry and others, repealing some rules that had never even been reported to Congress.
He nominated a solid conservative, Neil Gorsuch, to the U.S. Supreme Court, thus preventing what might otherwise have been a liberal takeover that lasted decades. He withdrew from the Paris Climate Accords, which the previous administration signed in defiance of the Senate’s constitutional power to ratify treaties. And he directed an active federal response to the Hurricane Harvey disaster, showing better management than both of the last two presidents.
The past few days have been more of the same, at a dizzying pace. On Tuesday, Schumer called Trump’s DACA decision “heartless” and “brainless.” The next day, he credited Trump for his “reasonable” debt ceiling deal, which included funding for Hurricane Harvey.
Conservatives fumed that Trump obtained nothing in return. But to most Americans, funding emergency hurricane relief is what the government ought to do quickly, setting politics aside.
Billionaire Mark Cuban, who became such a harsh critic of Trump that he sat in the front row at last year’s first presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, lauded Trump’s debt ceiling decision as “really smart.” Conservatives, understandably, are wary of praise from Democrats and celebrities. But Cuban had nothing to gain from praising Trump — and, given the mood of the Democratic base, much to lose. It is possible he really meant what he said.
Amidst all the worrying about how divided our country is, a new feeling is beginning to emerge, a sense of a society and a government that are actually working. Some of that is due simply to the resilience and decency of ordinary Americans, on full display in Texas.
But some of that is because of Trump. How ironic that the great “disruptor” of our political system is turning out to be the leader who is restoring it — and, soon, public faith in it.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.