What Does the GOP Stand Fow Now?
First things first. I was wrong. I did not think Republican voters would choose Donald Trump as their nominee for President. There are plenty of people dissecting and offering opinions as to the how and why; I’ll probably add my two cents to that discussion later. But I prefer to focus on the future, and now Mr. Trump is the presumptive nominee, that future begins today.
I seriously considered going down to the courthouse today and changing my registration from Republican to Independent. When I went to bed last night, that was my intention. After all, if I am to remain #NeverTrump (and I do), then how can I honestly consider myself a member of the party that supports him? But here’s my problem: there are many other people who consider themselves Republicans who also do not support Mr. Trump. Governors, Senators, Congressmen and others who have expressed no interest in even voting for him, much less actively supporting his candidacy. People like Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ben Sasse in the Senate. Conservative writers Geroge Will, Ben Shapiro, Eli Lake Philip Klein and Jamie Weinstein all penned columns this morning on the same theme: they remain adamantly #NeverTrump.
I certainly do not want to hand over the downballot races this November to the Democrats. That would turn fiasco into disaster, as the only hope the nation has is that the Congress will act much as it has for the 8 of the past 10 years. Which is to say, by simply refusing to even consider any of the sitting President’s proposals, much less act on them. Trump cannot trample all over the Bill of Rights and Clinton can’t seat liberal SCOTUS nominees wihout a compliant Congress. States under conservative leadership can continue to foul up the insane progressive programs sent down from 1600 Pennsylvania Avnue.
So, in the interest of protecting those downballot candidates, I’m not changing my voter registration – yet. What I’m waiting on is the party platform to be decided at the GOP convention in July.
We already know Trump is wildly inconsistent on policy and as socially inept a candidate as we’ve ever seen. But distilled down to their basic elements, the principles Trump has run on are as follows:
- Nativism: the idea that “others” cannot participate in the American Dream.
- Protectionsism: The US cannot compete – militarily, diplomatically or economically – with the rest of the world.
- Isolationsism: The rest of the world is a big, dangerous, scary place filled with “others.” We must disengage from it and let the “others” fend for themselves.
- Bigotry: Everyone is great – but some people are greater than “others.”
- Government: The bigger and more intrusive, the better. A powerful Federal government is the only way to ensure peace and prosperity.
A platform is the shared policy positions of the party. It also outlines the enabling principles of the party. The problem facing Republicans in July, and particularly the platform committee, is defining those standards. If they adopt any of the principles above, then the Republican party has given up even the pretense of being a conservative party. Conservatism (or the term now being bandied about to seperate from Trumpism, “Classical Liberalism”) is the antithesis to all of those princples. As conservatives, we understand how dangerous any of them can be by themselves. Combinations of two or three yield the Democratic platform since the days of Bill Clinton; combine everything but the bigotry and you get the Democratic platform of Jimmy Carter, Teddy Kennedy and Michael Dukakis. Combine all 5? Yes, that would look eeirly similiar to the platfrom of the American National Socialist Movement Party.*
Should that happen, I will bolt the GOP faster than Usain Bolt with a case of diarrhea. Here’s the thing: should the GOP adopt a truly conservative platform (or even a center-right platform, giving up prior socially oncservative positions), I don’t expect Trump to actually run on it. After all, he’s done his own thing and changed positions as often as five times in one day, so expecting him to suddenly have the discipline to follow a platform would be completely out of character. But I would fully expeect downballot candidates to point to it and say, “this is what being a Republican means.” It would provide a blueprint, one that would find Trump instinctively opposed, but something the rest of the party and country could point to. And I would fully expect Republicans to honor that committment once elected.
Do I have hope that such a thing is possible, that the GOP could adopt a platform opposed to everything their Presidential candidate believes? Yes, and here’s why: we’ve seen conservative candidates win some of the downballot races in the same states where Trump has been strongest. People who are for lower taxes, reduced government, less regulation and have both feet firmly planted in the real world. So, as enamored as a sizable chunk of the Republican electorate seems to be of Mr. Trump, it also seems to want true “Classical Liberalism.”
We’ll find out come July which the way the wind prevails. Until then, I will continue to fight for conservative principles to be the GOP’s guiding light, and for the GOP to return that light to the Shining City on the Hill.