Today’s passing of the American Health Care Act in the House of Representatives was the Triumph of Trump. Make no mistake about it. No one had more skin in the game than the president, and no one worked harder to see this bill pass.
Trump’s effort this week is reminiscent of Reagan, who worked the phones tirelessly to win over votes for his agenda. Reagan’s success at governing is the stuff of legends, and it was predicated on bringing politicians together to do the people’s business through charm, charisma and leadership. It wasn’t easy. Here is an excerpt from President Reagan’s diary in 1981:
“Wed. May 6 • More meetings with Cong. These Demos. are with us on the budget and it’s interesting to hear some who’ve been here 10 years or more say it is their 1st time to ever be in the Oval office. We really seem to be putting a coalition together.”
and then the next day:
“Thurs. May 7 • The Budget bill passed 253 to 176. All the Repubs. stayed together & 63 Demos. voted with us. We never anticipated such a landslide. We felt we were going to win due to the conservative block of Demos but expected R. defectors so that we might win by 1 or 2 votes. It’s been a long time since Repubs. have had a victory like this.”
That was then and this is now. Much has changed. The polarization of politics on Capitol Hill is is at a high water mark. One would have thought that the repealing Obamacare would be a lock, given the fact that the Republicans control both houses of Congress and the Presidency. But contention within the Republican party these days is palpable. To get the various coalitions within the GOP to work together was and is a challenge of leadership. Donald J. Trump met the challenge. He did it by keeping his eye on the goal, exhibiting a winning smile and burning up the phone lines. He listened. He exhibited servant leadership by constantly posing the question: “What can I do to change your vote?”
At the end of the day, every phone call counted. The bill passed by one vote.
While this is a huge victory, and one that should be savored by all who love freedom, it is just the beginning. Next stop: the Senate. For now we can celebrate having won the battle. But the war is far from over. With Trump leading the charge, this could get exciting!