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Deconstruction is underway

In February of 2017, then-White House political strategist Steve Bannon said he foresaw the major goal of the Trump agenda as “the deconstruction of the administrative state.”

A Washington Post story from that month saw Bannon vowing that President Donald Trump would not moderate his policies nor seek political consensus. The article seemed to limit this “deconstruction” to taxes, regulations, multi-lateral agreements and trade deals Trump inherited.

Indeed, Trump dumped the Trans Pacific Partnership, dumped NAFTA, undercut NATO, pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, tried to institute a travel ban and eased environmental and business regulations.

One other part, though, that appears to be part of this deconstruction is the dismantling of the establishment wing of the Republican Party. While one would hardly think of a political party (particularly one as conservative as the GOP) as part of the administrative state, the president bristles at the attempts of the establishment to rein him in.

This week he referred to members of the GOP who are critical of him as “human scum.” He made clear that he was not only referring to those who opposed him from the beginning of his candidacy (the so-called “Never-Trumpers”), but also some who served in his administration, left, and then began to criticize him.

He also has apparently included in the “scum” group the large contingent of Republican members of Congress who have retired rather than appearing on a ballot with him.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee ripped the president as unfit for office and referred to the White House staff as members of an Adult Day Care Center. But, he didn’t run for re-election in 2018. Sen. Jeff Flake took to the floor of the Senate to announce that he could not sit quietly by and watch Trump disgrace the office of president — then announced retirement.

Four GOP senators — Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Mike Enzi of Wyoming — have announced they will not seek re-election in 2020. They have not cited Trump as the reason, but . . .

Sixteen GOP House members will not be on the ballot in 2020. Six of those congressmen are from Texas, perhaps putting that state into play in the 2020 presidential election.

Certainly, if Trump and Bannon intended “deconstruction” to reshape the Republican Party, they are succeeding beyond their wildest dreams. The establishment is gone — Trump nationalists have taken over completely.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.