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In the world of presidential politics, today is clearly the day of guys named Rick. To start with, Ricochet’s own Rick Wilson published a piece in Politico detailing why “Trump Voters Are Hillary’s New Best Friends.” The article lit up social media and included the likes of Jon Gabriel posting pictures of nuclear explosions. The whole thing is worth reading, but I found his fourth point to be the most persuasive:
4. You don’t care about his record. It’s an ideological train-wreck of epic proportions if you care about any conservative values. He’s been pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax hikes, pro-single-payer and is a past master of crony capitalism, to say nothing of his political and financial support for the Clintons and Barack Obama. It’s a mess. You’d never give any other candidate the benefit of the doubt on such a wide portfolio of positions that have changed 180 degrees and back again so many times. And yet, I imagine you can drill into Marco Rubio’s or Jeb Bush’s or even Scott Walker’s record for some sign of apostasy that you can never, ever, ever forgive.
Above and beyond anything else, Trump’s lack of conservatism — irrespective of his current bombast — should be the focus of Republican and conservative primary voters. If there is an actual RINO in this race, it is Trump. If we want someone who represents us, our party, and our ideals we must look elsewhere. Sure, he says a few things we may agree with, and he may say them in a way that gets our blood flowing and puts us in a fighting mood, but consider whether or not he believes what he says enough to lead the party into the fray. Judging by the convoluted smorgasbord of positions he’s held, the politicians and causes he’s given money and lip-service to in the past, Trump is not a fit head for this body politic. We are being conned by a reality television celebrity. Think about that while you read the way Wilson put it:
9. You think Donald Trump is the character he plays on television. You think his swagger and bellowing is the Leadership America Needs and that he’s an antidote to the herd of RINOs running for president. You think Donald Trump is the only one speaking truth to power. You think he’s the only one who really gets you. Remember when you had a crush on some movie or TV star as a teenager? Of course you do. You weren’t really in love with them. You were infatuated by a crafted, manufactured, stage-managed image. The purpose of what Clive James called “The Fame Planet” is to manage and monetize celebrity; you’re being played by a celebrity branding operation. There is nothing authentic about the character of Donald Trump that you’re seeing on the campaign trail. (Certainly not that exotic item that rests on his head.)
Trump simply is not what he appears to be. He may currently be playing a Republican on T.V., but this election is about reality, not reality T.V.
The other Rick to “go nuclear” on Trump (as Sean Davis headlined it at The Federalist) is Rick Perry. The former Texas Governor and Republican hopeful — who has shown no fear of taking the wood to Trump — devoted an entire speech to the matter today. At the Opportunity and Freedom PAC forum in D.C. Perry set to the task of diagnosing Trump as a “cancer on conservatism” which must be excised before he “metastasize[s] into a movement of mean-spirited politics that will send the Republican Party to the same place it sent the Whig Party in 1854: the graveyard.”
Though he spoke very harshly of Trump, the speech on whole was uplifting. Perry spoke of Washington, Lincoln, and Adams as men who served with humility. He spoke of conservatism that unites the nation, uplifts the poor, and is the only hope for a nation in the doldrums of nearly a decade of bad governance.
We have tried the policies of the progressive left for the last six and a half years. The Democratic candidates for president could offer them for the next eight.
Their failures are self-evident. We have never spent more money on welfare in the history of our nation, with few results to show for it.
They have mastered the politics of grievance, when in reality Americans are the victim of their policies that caused the housing crash, that have produced the slowest recovery since the Great Depression, that have caused a precipitous increase in the cost of college tuition.
The solution, according to Perry, is conservatism, what can only be described as Reagan type vision, and the American People.
American workers aren’t looking to get something for nothing. They want to make an honest wage. They want a shot at a good job. And big government won’t give it to them.
That fair shot can only come from free people, and free markets, and the free market incentive known as the profit motive.
Conservatism can lead us out of the Valley of Economic Ruin.
It places faith in individuals, not government.
It restores personal freedom instead of restricting it.
It lets business owners and families keep more of what they make, so they can invest it in the economy and create jobs.
I believe in a conservatism that empowers people to make the most of their lives rather than government that makes a mess of their lives.
After giving historic examples of humble leadership and outlining a conservative vision for the future, Perry turned back to his assault (and brought me out of my seat just reading the material) when he tied it all together with this hard truth about Trump:
But most telling to me is not Mr. Trump’s bombast, his refusal to show any remorse for his comments about Senator McCain, but his admission that there is not a single time in his life that he sought the forgiveness of God.
A man too arrogant, too self-absorbed, to seek God’s forgiveness is precisely the type of leader John Adams prayed would never occupy the White House.
He concluded his remarks (I think) perfectly with this:
We need a president who rises above personal grievances, petty differences, raw partisan politics. Who puts the nation first, who inspires Americans to believe again and produce again and dream again.
We must move past the empty calories of Trumpism, and return to conservatism.
We shall not give up on the animating idea of our Republic – a nation founded on the principle of “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
There is nothing wrong in America that cannot be fixed with the right leadership.
We need leadership that repairs the breach in America, that brings the country together, that sets our sights on greatness after a long period of pettiness.
In all, today was a great day to be a Rick, and hopefully foretells of great days to come for being a Republican and an American. Happy Rick Day, Ricochet!