Trump Has 'The Squad' Right Where He Wants Them, but It'll Take More to Win in 2020 | Opinion

The week began with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused of racism by ultra-left-wing members of her congressional caucus. It ended, thanks to a few tweets, in a shouting match over President Donald Trump's fitness to remain in office.

The power of social media to define what everyone talks about and what news organizations cover is stronger than ever. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Periscope and other platforms have given every American the ability to express their opinion to the world in nanoseconds. And, no matter what you think about what the president tweeted about the "Gang of Four"—U.S. Representatives Ilham Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley—it made them the story, reinforcing that they and not Pelosi are the face and heart and soul of the modern Democratic Party.

For the Democrats running for president, from whom you did not hear much lately unless they were commenting on the controversy, this is not good news. Trump is defining his 2020 election opposition before it can define itself. He's running against "The Squad" and the anti–Middle America positions they've taken, something folks who claim to be "woke" won't like, not just because they disagree but because it's electorally threatening.

What the left hasn't figured out is how many people agree with Trump that America is basically a good country of which we should be proud. They don't agree with Omar and Ocasio-Cortez and the others, who now determine what the Democrats stand for: that America is fundamentally flawed, has been from the start, and needs major change.

This helps Trump. That's why he keeps bringing it up, though it's not enough by itself to guarantee him a win. He must give people something to vote for. If he doesn't while Democrats are promising voters all kinds of free stuff, the wave may break left instead of right and swamp him and the GOP at the polls.

There are lots of people with ideas on how Trump can grow his vote. Some are good. Most, like stopping the tweets, are bad. Twitter is his megaphone to push back against the dominant liberal narrative, amplified by the media until it's heard everywhere. The media seems not to realize they're helping rather than hurting his efforts to define himself and his opponents.

Others, like putting even greater emphasis on law and order in light of the violent acts by resistance groups like Antifa, and using his administrative powers to stop all immigration into the United States until Congress passes immigration reform, have merit but still may not be enough.

The real threats to Trump's ability to win re-election are not cultural; they're economic. Winning passage of the U.S.-Canada-Mexico (USMCA) free trade agreement has to be a priority.

The votes to pass it are there in Congress if a way can be found to get around Pelosi's current refusal to get it to the floor. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates it could bring 176,000 new jobs and increase the size of the economy by $68.2 billion. The Tax Foundation's Kyle Pomerleau figured in a rough calculation it would have the same economic effect as cutting the corporate income tax rate from 21 percent to 17 percent.

That's permanent change that could allow many of the Trump-imposed tariffs to be lifted. It would help in Midwest farm states and might even provide cover to ease up on China, which also wants to make a deal, just not in writing.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump talks with reporters as he departs the White House on July 19, in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Also giving the economy what might be the big lift it needs is the proposal to index capital gains for inflation. This is a "must-do" that will generate revenue for the federal treasury as assets transfer and will protect future Americans from having to pay taxes on illusory gains created by inflation caused by bad government fiscal policy. It's currently being batted back and forth between the White House and the Treasury Department, and Trump may just have to order it done.

The last thing Trump must do is keep filling the federal bench with solid judges who interpret the Constitution rather than make law from the bench. He's done a yeoman's job thus far and could do better—and this would please the base—by getting older federal district and circuit court judges eligible to take senior status to do it. Then he can replace them with bright, young men and women who will be ruling on cases long after his library is built and he's in permanent retirement at Mar-a-Lago.

Taken together, these three initiatives—pushing USMCA through Congress, indexing capital gains for inflation and getting more good judges on the federal bench—will solidify his base, grow his vote and sway the independents he needs to win in 2020.

Newsweek contributing editor Peter Roff has written extensively about politics and the American experience for U.S. News and World Report, United Press International and other publications. He can be reached by email at RoffColumns@GMAIL.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

Trump Has 'The Squad' Right Where He Wants Them, but It'll Take More to Win in 2020 | Opinion | Opinion