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September 14, 2015

How to Crush Trump

The republican establishment seems perplexed by Donald Trump’s appeal. They hoped he would implode, but instead he gathers strength with every utterance. What to do? Since the Republicans inside the beltway are clueless, let me provide them a simple primer to follow. If they take these commonsense steps, The Donald will fade away like an apparition.

First, the easy actions.

Step 1

This is mandatory. Don’t skip this step. Get about a half dozen big, powerful establishment types to sit down with Jeb Bush and convince him that for the good of the country he must withdraw his candidacy. If you want to make Trump zealots see red, wave a Bush in front of their eyes. Get him the hell out of the arena.

Step 2

After Bush vacates the scene, tell Graham, Gilmore, Pataki, and Santorum to get lost. Then give the remaining dirty dozen an ultimatum: secure 10% in polling by January 1 or go back to your day job.

Step 3

Tell the establishment back-up quarterback (John Kasich) that he’s on his own. Do not try to sneak him into a starting position … unless you want to give Trump the excuse he needs to remain center stage.

Step 4

This one is for Rupert Murdoch, the consigliere of the Republican establishment. Take a page from Trump’s playbook. Pick up the phone, call Karl Rove, and simply state, “You’re fired.” You may need a few more words to make sure he understands that he’s fired from Fox News and The Wall Street Journal. Next, tell your pundits to quit conflating legal immigration and illegal immigration. They are no more alike than pharmacists and drug dealers. In both cases, the former went through an arduous process to get certified and strive to remain lawful. These kind of people naturally join the Republican Party and are worthy of constituent service.

The above steps are straightforward management actions that any competent leader would take for the betterment of an organization. Leaders who do not take these kind of personnel actions watch their organization dwindle away. Giving Jeb the hook tells the rank and file that the establishment finally got the message. Rove is symbolic because no one any longer pays him any mind anyway. Leaving Kasich to wander in the wilderness shows the base that you’re not up to your old tricks.

Now for the tough stuff (not that I believe for a second that the Republican elite will actually take any of the previous steps). The remaining actions are hard because they require wit and courage. Two qualities lacking in Beltway Republicans. Here they are anyway.

Step 5

Force the Democrats to take formal responsibility for the Iran deal. Play hardball! Do not use the “resistance is futile” excuse. Do not whine. Do not beg. Stop all Senate action until Reid allows a vote. If push comes to shove, change the filibuster rules. In a similar situation, Reid would do the same in a heartbeat. And for goodness sake, do not settle for a token vote that everybody knows is valueless. If you can’t figure out a way to achieve this one simple goal, step aside. Resign your leadership position. Get the hell out of the way.

Step 6

After you put Democrats behind the 8-ball, punish them with the power of the purse. In the continuing budget resolution, go nuclear. Don’t just defund Planned Parenthood. Cut IRS funding. Cut funding for the enabling Department of Justice. Cut Education, EPA, Commerce, Labor, and Transportation. And finally, cut the White House budget — big time. Make it hurt. If you follow these six steps, people will no longer feel hopeless and abandoned. Anger will abate. Republicans will no longer need a savior. Absent a power vacuum, Trump’s shtick will no longer draw an audience.

Even if the Republican establishment does all the above, a lot of work remains to be done. But if you take these first six steps, you’ll soon be jogging, then finally running marathons to the hurrahs of grateful Americans.

Here are some clarifications for the dunderheads inside the beltway. None of these actions are directed at Donald Trump. All of these action will erode his base. None of these actions may seem reasonable to you, but vast numbers of Americans know that they are both reasonable and necessary to save the nation. None of these action will appear easy to you, but with a smidgeon of courage, all are eminently doable.

Listen up, Republican establishment: Donald Trump is your creature. You made him. You gave him his platform. Either get your act together or prepare for a tsunami.

James D. Best is the author of Tempest at Dawn and eight other books.

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