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Harold Hutchison / Jan. 12, 2021

The GOP Must Face a Reckoning

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the party’s mixed performance on November 3.

In a free republic such as ours, elections themselves are supposed to be the ultimate form of political accountability. Unfortunately, the 2020 elections featured shenanigans that tainted the results. Thus, it’s time for further accountability.

This includes accountability for the riot at the Capitol, something that law enforcement and our court system are working on. Those who are guilty of breaking the law should be punished accordingly. End of discussion on that front.

Politically, GOP leaders must answer for the devastating results of this election. This will require some tough, honest conversations among the leadership and grassroots Patriots, not just an emotionally incontinent blame game. It will require adaptations, and, just to dream big for a moment, that may need to include the construction of our own infrastructure in technology, finance, and education.

The Republican and conservative establishments cannot escape blame for the 2020 election, largely because of their documented track record of failures to address double standards and attacks on the norms over the years.

Republican officeholders must be held to account for acceding to Democrat-instigated changes to election rules, like the signature verification debacle that contributed to GOP defeat in Georgia or problems with ballot counting in other battleground states.

Meanwhile, despite his defeat, Donald Trump will likely leave office with significant popularity among Republican voters. Why? Because he kept many of his promises, and because he delivered for grassroots Patriots on issues where the establishment’s performance was hit-or-miss at best, when they won despite tactical and strategic incompetence, or when they lost.

Back in 2018, we argued that changes in the political and media landscape required a reevaluation of strategy and tactics. In 2016, Trump was all that stood between America and a shamelessly corrupt Hillary Clinton administration.

Then he also delivered for our nation. Trump built more than 450 miles of border fencing and held the line against amnesty — when many in the establishment pushed heavily for the latter while slow-walking the former. He appointed superb judges when the establishment’s track record seemed to be a coin toss at best — for every Scalia, Thomas, or Alito, we got a Souter, Kennedy, or Roberts. He also stood up and fought back against a Left that for decades got away with smearing Republicans as Nazis, white supremacists, racists, bigots, and worse. Contrast that to the shameful silence from John McCain and Mitt Romney when Sarah Palin was falsely accused of inspiring the 2011 Tucson shooting that wounded Gabby Giffords and killed six others.

For all his flaws, Trump was taking on China and Russia, he was trying to get our NATO allies to pay their fair share, and he sought to fix a lot of dubious trade deals. He also, for good or ill, revealed the true colors of so many who purported to be Republicans and conservatives, yet were silent over many outrages from the Left. On the contrary, many made excuses for the outrages and abuses. And they wonder why grassroots Patriots turned to Trump?

At his best, Trump was an out-of-the-box thinker who had flashes of brilliance in tactics and strategy. At his worst, he was undisciplined and spoke without considering how his words could be used against him. He was both a charismatic messenger and a flawed one, and he alone bears responsibility for those flaws.

Back to the point at hand: Accountability must also be meted out to the Republican and conservative establishments. Officeholders, consultants, and pundits failed across the board. Some fought tooth and nail for the pre-Trump status quo, and thus lost the trust of grassroots Patriots. Trump’s rise — and his continued popularity and support among Republican voters — is a direct response to their many failures over the past 25 years. That alone will be a check on their power.

Yet the alternative Right is not without blame. Some of these folks gained trust by trafficking in misleading or outright false conspiracy theories. That failure also demands an accounting. Our side can’t just imitate the Left’s game of falsehoods. We’re not as good at it, for one thing, and it’s not what principled conservatism is supposed to be about.

Ultimately, the GOP must figure out how to proceed, whether with or without Trump in future elections, by heeding the lessons he taught and his supporters demand the party learn.

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