The Heart of the GOP
There’s no shortage of ink (both literal and virtual) spilt analyzing the danger, disruption and fear of destruction underway within the Grand Old Party. The presidential primary features a mobilized base of voters who appear through their support of “outsider” candidates like Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina to be ready to end the current practice of governing by Republicans. And make no mistake: The establishment is panicking.
It’s fascinating that the glare of the spotlight is fixated on the personalities of these political novices. The establishment argues that these candidates' lack of experience should disqualify them for the highest elected office in the world. Yet voters see their inexperience as a positive attribute, and largely favor the solutions these candidates offer.
The Leftmedia and the governing elites cringe when Trump proposes a pause in the immigration of individuals whose countries of origin are either in the heart of the Islamic State or in close proximity. However, average Americans don’t want terrorists entering our nation among the masses who truly are displaced by Islamic extremism. The Islamic Trojan horse is a serious threat.
December’s passage of the latest spendthrift budget by Republican majorities in the House and Senate was praised by Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. And why not? It funded everything Obama wanted, including his Syrian refugee plan. In part, Republicans were budgeting for a GOP president — to remove the budget as a political weapon in the 2016 race — but most grassroots conservatives simply feel betrayed. Again. Still.
Likewise, governing Republican majorities have made no progress in securing the border or making reasonable policy regarding even legal immigration. But pesky outsiders, again, led by Trump, speak the language of average Americans on the issue, promising to protect the jobs of the working class that have been undercut by artificially low wages due to cheap, illegal labor.
In the mind of the average voter, illegal immigration has become both the foremost national security and economic issue facing America. Yet Beltway Blindness, Potomac Fever, or whatever malady one prefers to blame tends to afflict most elected “representatives.” This inability to see the obvious has permitted Trump’s effective message to draw Democrats, Independents and Republicans of all races and incomes to his camp.
The message of Trump, Carson, Fiorina and also Ted Cruz is off the script of DC consultants and pollsters. Yet, Beltway anger is likely rooted in embarrassment for their failed effort to “grow the party” by ignoring the organization’s very platform, which is largely based on constitutional conservative principles.
For the record, the problem we in our humble shop have with Trump is the perplexing conundrum that his message also doesn’t have anything to do with constitutional conservative principles. His nationalism certainly has (understandably) wide appeal, as does his promise to break down politically correct barriers to getting things done. But he is not conservative or constitutional.
Ronald Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan argues that’s not the point: “Mr. Trump’s supporters don’t care if he’s classically conservative. Doctrinal purity is not the story this year.” Which isn’t to say issues don’t rule. “[I]ssues do matter,” Noonan writes, “and Mr. Trump has functioned this year not as a great communicator or great compromiser but as the great disruptor. He brags that he has brought up great questions and forced other candidates to face them and sometimes change their stands — and he has.”
Ironically, the Republican National Committee long has been very “flexible” in embracing leaders and nominees that depart from the stated beliefs of the GOP — the party’s platform. Reagan was, unfortunately, only an exception, in that he actually embodied what Republicans say they believe. Yet the GOP has been comfortable overlooking the activity of elected “public servants” whose bona fides could be challenged when viewed through the lens of the party platform.
It’s time for a brutally honest assessment of the political class. Even with divided government, perhaps excepting perhaps the Contract with America days of the Republican Congress, the result is malignant and dangerous spending, a message on legal immigration that’s redefined and controlled by the hard Left and Big Business, and a public that trusts no one in any branch of government.
Many Americans have had their fill of the lines being dished out. They’ve lost their appetite for pretentious decorum and collusion dressed up as collaboration. Through years of disappointments, failures and lies, both the Democrats and the GOP have created the environment for a candidate such as Trump to succeed.
Contrary to the assertion of Washington Post columnist and former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, Trump’s nomination won’t “rip the heart out of the Republican Party.” The GOP long ago abandoned its heart — and its spine.
It’s interesting to note that Bush’s speechwriter doesn’t understand that. Reagan’s speechwriter, on the other hand, does. What better illustration of the disconnect?