For months now, I, and many other concerned voices in the conservative movement, have written about the danger a Donald Trump nomination presents not just to the future of the GOP, but to the foundational values upon which our nation was built. We have outlined how Trump’s past and present statements and actions overtly contradict even the most fundamental precepts of conservatism.
Yet, no matter how eloquent the argument, cogent the logic, or veracity of the examples we provide to support our thesis that Trump unquestionably is not a conservative, the end result feels very much like talking to a brick wall. Why is this?
It seems the mistake has been in assuming the Trump supporters we are attempting to reach are conservatives; to whom reason (rather than emotion) is the basis on which they make decisions, especially political ones. Listening in person to Trump supporters, and reading the comment sections of my and other writers’ articles against Trump, I am no longer convinced of this. It is time to take off the gloves, and stop pretending we are talking to well-intended, but misguided, political allies who can be won back over with a firm but gentle tug on the arm.
Trump supporters are vehemently anti-establishment, but support a man who has made his fortune buying and supporting Establishment candidates. Trump supporters champion how he “tells it like it is” and that he “will do what he says,” but invariably dismiss when Trump contradicts himself – sometimes only minutes apart – as “chattering class” fabrications, rather than a window into his character. Trump supporters decry how the GOP has compromised with liberals, but support Trump’s polices that are cut from the same cloth as the likes of Obama and his cronies in Congress.
In short, they see the world not as it is, but as Trump tells them it is. This is not the hallmark of a rational electorate, or even embittered conservatives temporary blinded by anger; but of devotees to a cult of personality. And, as those supporters freely admit, every attempt to use conventional methods of discourse to highlight this hypocrisy “is reinforcing the determination of us regular folks to stay with Trump.” In other words, “true conservatives don’t understand Trump supporters.”
They’re right; and conservatives have to realize and accept this reality if we are to stop the GOP from slipping into their hands and the abyss beyond.
The time for pens is over. Now must come the swords.
Contrary to the blustering of Trump supporters about the inevitability of their Dear Leader, Trump’s pre-convention triumph is by no means a foregone conclusion; and his winning at the Republican National Convention is far from a sure bet. We need to resolve to avoid such a scenario.
Interestingly, history itself offers a clear example of the damage to a political party that can be wrought by a rogue candidacy like Trump’s.
The 1924 Democratic National Convention in New York City, often referred to as the “Klanbake” because of the active presence of the Ku Klux Klan in support of one of the candidates, was a chaotic mess much like that to which the GOP now is careening with Trump fighting to maintain a grip on the steering wheel. At that “brokered” convention nearly a century ago, it took 103 ballots before a nominee was chosen – not one of the front-runners going in, but a lesser-known individual who initially polled at a mere 2.8 percent, and eventually emerged to become the Party’s “compromise” candidate.
Not surprising, the Democratic Party brand was so tarnished and torn by that convention melee that its eventual nominee lost in a general election landslide to the Republican nominee (Calvin Coolidge).
The lesson here? If a Party allows itself to be dragged into its national convention by a populist agitator, and then throws itself open to the uncertainty and bedlam of searching for a “compromise” candidate at a “brokered” convention (even though its rules allow for this), the self-inflicted wounds it suffers will almost certainly doom it to defeat in November.
Fighting back cannot wait; the GOP in 2016 cannot afford the debacle of a “Trumpbake,” any more than its Democrat counterpart could afford the “Klanbake” in 1924. Republican voters must unite behind a true conservative now and at every opportunity until the National Convention this summer. The way forward is not hypothetical. The candidate is staring us in the face. It is not a “compromise candidate” like John Kasich. It is a true conservative. It is Ted Cruz.