Pundits, commentators, and professional politicos hit pay dirt with high ratings during President Donald Trump’s first fifty days in office… but beyond the liberal riots, protests, and hyperbole, something important is happening in America. As the co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, Citizens for Self-Governance, and the Convention of States Project, I know the real Americans who have been working to make this nation great again before it was a campaign slogan. These aren’t just "likely voters." These are the folks who walk precincts, knock on doors, work candidates’ phone banks, donate money, support causes and disproportionately influence their friends and neighbors. In this nation, we pay more attention to the talking heads on television than these high level influencers, even though these grassroots activists have a disproportionate impact on both public opinion and the results of elections.
Maybe that’s why almost every “professional” political expert was gobsmacked by the election of Donald Trump?
Anyway, I asked these highly engaged activists some questions, because I know what they think matters. Within hours, thousands had responded from all fifty states. The results are far more important than whatever the pundit on CNN is telling you we think.
I wanted to get to the heart of what these activists are thinking. For example, I asked, “What letter grade would you give President Trump in terms of keeping his campaign promises to grassroots?” You might not have heard this statistic from any mainstream media report, but 67% gave Trump an "A."
Republican leaders didn’t fare quite as well. “What letter grade would you give Republican leaders for working with President Trump to keep his campaign promises?” I asked. Forty-one percent gave Republican leaders a "C."
More specifically, the grassroots are sick of Republicans in Congress. When I asked people to give letter grades to them based on their ability to fulfill legislative priorities, the results were even worse: 37% gave Republicans in Congress a "C" in that category.
Guess who scored lower than Republicans in Congress? The unelected “fourth branch” of government, which is supposed to provide healthy checks and balances on what’s going on in Washington, D.C., has been apoplectic over the new administration. Their hysteria has made normal Americans unwilling to trust them. When asked to score the members of the media on how well they’ve covered the goings on of the new administration, 79% gave them an "F."
"CNN and others in the mainstream media continue to beclown themselves with their outrageous bias,” one grassroots activist replied. Another said “the parsing, misdirection and contradictions are all very disturbing.” In particular, the "Russian hacking" story is ruining whatever shred of trust remained between reporters and citizens. One activist told me it is “absolutely a false narrative in order for the left to distract Trump and other conservatives from discovering the real story that Obama administration has been using the deep state and surveillance state to go after political rivals."
But another group is even less popular than Republicans in Congress and members of the media. Democrats received the lowest scores for their inability or unwillingness to reach across the aisle and cooperate with the new leaders. “What letter grade would you give Democratic leaders for working with Republicans in Congress?” I asked. The mainstream media won’t tell you that Americans are sick and tired of their behavior. Three thousand five hundred and forty-seven respondents gave Democrats an F. Two hundred and eighty-eight mustered up a D for the highly partisan politicians. In a related question, the majority of respondents believe Democratic leaders refuse to accept the results of the election. (Note to Democrats, this was not intended to be a compliment.)
But even more than their perceptions on what’s going on in D.C., I wanted to know what’s most important to them right now. No, it’s not about the pink hats worn in the Women’s March or the latest Oscar winning actor’s rants against Trump’s supposed xenophobia. Respondents ranked the following issues in order of importance:
Appointing constitutionalists to the courts
Repealing and replacing Obamacare
Making our military stronger
Meaningful tax reform
Rolling back regulatory EO's put in place by the Obama administration
The most fascinating responses of the grassroots’ activists, however, came down to what they expect to happen next. I asked them which of the following statements is closer to their view: “Republican leaders in Congress won’t keep the promises they and President Trump made during the campaign” or “Republican leaders in Congress will deliver on promises that they and President Trump made during the campaign.” On this question, the respondents were clearly divided. Two thousand and twelve people said they won’t. One thousand nine hundred and ninety-eight said they would.
You’ll never go broke betting against the moral fiber of America’s politicians. However, after the past few months of unexpected political developments, who knows? Maybe they’ll surprise us and actually keep their promises. Over the next fifty days, our political leaders have an opportunity to ensure that pundits, commentators, and professional politicos aren’t the only ones profiting from the political upheaval. It’s time to really make America great again, and American grassroots activists are watching to make sure that happens.