Leaders Cannot Lead Without Earning Trust
Republican leaders have a long history of not standing up to leftist attacks.
If conservatives and Republicans in the establishment wing — particularly those who are “Never Trumpers” — ever want to understand why nobody listens to them, it really comes down to a single word: Trust. Loyalty, like civility, is a two-way street. In order to have any sort of claim on it, you need to give it.
Leftists who falsely accuse grassroots Patriots of racism, sexism, Islamophobia, being okay with “kids eating crap,” or any host of other dreadful things have long ago forfeited any right to complain about return fire from the Right. For far too long, leftists used those cries to silence criticism. For far too long, so-called “leaders” of the Republican Party failed to defend themselves and the grassroots Patriots who backed them.
Let’s assume that you’re called a child-killing domestic terrorist by some Mike Bloomberg stooge because you oppose an onerous slate of anti-Second Amendment legislation, like that pushed by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Who would you trust to call out that Bloomberg stooge’s lies? Would you count on Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren or would you trust CNN’s Trump-skeptic Amanda Carpenter?
We can’t speak for anyone else, but we’d trust Lahren to have our backs much more readily than Carpenter. Not that we don’t believe that Amanda is a conservative, but Tomi has shown the necessary fight.
In a similar vein, let’s assume that for opposing reparations, you are attacked with phony claims similar to those tossed at John McCain in the 2008 campaign. Who comes to your mind as someone who will defend you (and others) against that defamation? PragerU’s Candace Owens or New York Daily News editorialist Robert A. George?
Once again, we mean no disrespect to Robert, but, in recent months and years, Candace has proven that she will have our backs. Robert is conservative, but he seems to embrace the political doctrine of Republican unilateral political disarmament.
Similarly, if there were claims from the likes of Elizabeth Warren that those opposing new campaign-finance laws on First Amendment grounds were actually pro-corruption, who do you think would be more likely to call out Warren? The Dispatch’s David French or Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter? Most would count on Schlichter to have our backs, despite the yeoman’s work French did exposing the abuses of the “John Doe” laws in Wisconsin in the pages of National Review, his former employer.
It’s not just defending Patriots working at the grassroots level, it’s also about being willing to defend themselves. Paul Ryan is a brilliant economic conservative. He was widely seen as a great hope when he was picked as Mitt Romney’s running mate. He was arguably the politician with some of the best ideas on how to help Social Security and Medicare to keep functioning through the 21st century without bankrupting the country.
Many Patriots defended Ryan’s budgets and plans for entitlement reform, but Ryan seemed unable to defend those who defended him. Worse, when smeared as someone who would push grandma over a cliff, he couldn’t even muster the will to defend himself. At that point, many Patriots understandably questioned whether he was capable of sticking up for them.
The same thing happened when George W. Bush failed to defend himself against clearly phony charges of lying about the justification for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Many Patriots did step up, defending the operation and supporting the mission, but were then left hanging out to dry.
So, when more establishment conservatives are asking why Lahren, Owens, and Schlichter have such a following among Patriots, they need to look in the mirror. Just having a good policy agenda is no longer enough; those who seek to lead conservatives have to earn their trust.
Tomi, Candace, and Kurt have earned trust by fighting leftists. They have stuck up for Patriots at the grassroots. If establishment-types did the same, they might win back some of the trust that they lost over the years.