Eight years ago, Charles Krauthammer assessed America’s future and famously wrote, “Decline is a choice. … Decline – or continued ascendancy – is in our hands.”
For the eight years that followed, under the administration of Barack Obama, decline was our chosen destination. Over the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency, America is choosing to ascend again.
Obama’s presidency was defined by the expansion of government at home and appeasement and retreat abroad. Justly so, President Trump’s mission to correct our course has involved a wholesale rejection of his predecessor’s approach to government and view of the world.
Unlike Obama, President Trump has surrounded himself with men and women from the private sector who, like him, understand how businesses are run, jobs are created, and pay checks are grown. Those of his appointees with public service backgrounds, like Vice President Mike Pence, are principled conservatives who want to empower those outside of Washington, not in it.
Obama pledged to “fundamentally transform” the United States and tried many methods to do so. Changing the dominant judicial philosophy of the Supreme Court would have meant changing the very character of our country, but thanks to a major promise kept, that will not be happening anytime soon.
Simply put, President Trump saved the high court from a hostile liberal takeover. The importance of this victory for the cause of limited Constitutional government and the rule of law cannot be overstated. The rewards of replacing Antonin Scalia with another originalist like Neil Gorsuch will be realized for decades. On everything from First and Second Amendment rights to the many debates centered on federalism, this can only be seen as a major conservative achievement.
Ironically, the same pen used by Obama to enact much of his agenda is now being wielded by his successor to undo it. With each pillar of the Obama legacy he pulls down, President Trump is effectively unleashing our economy and setting America in a more dynamic direction.
President Trump understands that one of the greatest impediments to economic growth has been excessive red tape imposed by Washington. That is why in January he signed a monumental executive order requiring that for every new regulation written by federal agencies, two existing regulations must be cut.
The Obama years saw overregulation reach a record high with more than 20,000 new rules that collectively cost our economy more than $100 billion. The Trump years are already promising the opposite. By utilizing the Congressional Review Act (CRA), the president has signed more bills to repeal more regulations in his first 100 days than any president before him.
According to the American Action Forum, through the CRA and separate executive actions, President Trump’s regulatory rollback will save Americans more than $60 billion and more than 56 million hours of paperwork. He is succeeding in getting government out of the private sector’s way and protecting taxpayers in ways until recently unthinkable.
Once targets of frustrating political obstruction, the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines have now been approved for construction and completion. Once a cornerstone of liberal climate policy, the war on coal is now over. With the abolition of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United Sates rule, an industry that employs thousands and provides affordable electricity to millions will no longer be strangled by smug federal bureaucrats.
Even on the matter of defending the unborn, President Trump affirmed his administration’s pro-life convictions early on when he reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which protects taxpayer dollars from funding abortion overseas.
Other areas of domestic policy have also been addressed by President Trump’s multitude of executive orders. With each action, he has commanded the federal government to ease burdens on the American people and set the stage for larger projects, such as the repeal and replacement of Obamacare and pro-growth tax reform.
In the global arena, America is undeniably leading with strength and confidence again.
No better snapshot of our rediscovered spine was seen than when Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad once again attacked his own people with chemical weapons. When this line was crossed in 2013, Obama publicly dithered for weeks and ultimately failed to enforce his own threat. This time, President Trump responded decisively within days and sent 59 Tomahawk missiles to destroy the airbase from where the gas attack was launched.
Our retaliation sent a simple yet unmistakable message to the entire world, friend and foe alike: We are a mighty superpower to trust, fear, and respect again.
Above all, we are an America that respects itself again.
Think about it: 100 days ago, we had a president who actually scolded us not to “get on our high horse” when criticizing radical Islam because of actions by Christians during the Crusades and slavery.
Now, we have a president unafraid to use both his inaugural address and a primetime speech to Congress to call our enemy by its name, condemn ISIS as “a network of lawless savages,” and declare it our war’s goal to “extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.”
As President Trump put it before the election: “We will stop apologizing for America, and we will start celebrating America.”
This renewed confidence in our righteousness was felt as we dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in combat history on an ISIS cave in Afghanistan. It is why our Guantanamo Bay naval base is no longer at risk of being closed for ridiculous symbolic reasons.
Where there were apologies, there is now pride. Where there was indecision, there is now resolution. Where there was moral relativism, there is once again American exceptionalism. Instead of a lecturer as president, we now have a leader.
No president’s agenda has ever or will ever be completed in 100 days or even a year. There is still much work to be done and many promises to be fulfilled. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that our trajectory of weakness has been stopped and reversed.
As President Trump visits Pennsylvania this Saturday, those of us welcoming him will celebrate the beginning of an era in which the world’s greatest republic rejected decline and instead chose to reaffirm its strength, its principles, its potential, and yes, its greatness.
Republican Mike Kelly represents Pennsylvania’s 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.