An Open Letter to Trump Supporters and the GOP Establishment

 

My fellow Americans:

It hasn’t been a good week for relations between us, has it?  Make that more like a month.  I’d like to dial the temperature down a bit and take a look at where, and who, we are. You have every reason to be frustrated and angry with our current politics. Only on occasion do our leaders do something useful; only slightly more often do they stop something terrible. But screaming that we’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore — while cathartic — doesn’t take anyone anywhere.

The establishment side of this discussion hasn’t always covered itself in glory. Senator McCain should not have referred to Trump’s supporters as “crazies” and then tried to pass it off as the normal rough-and-tumble of politics. It was wrong, and he should have said so.

The problems with this back-and-forth are fourfold:

1. Good, patriotic citizens are talking or yelling past one another, not to each other. Here on Ricochet, we’ve had some interchanges that, quite frankly, reflect poorly on us. Arthur Brooks is right: Obama has helped to create a mirror image in us, his opposition. He has governed with such cynicism, division, and contempt that we have felt free to respond in kind. That habit is hard to break. We can easily tell everyone what is wrong with our current situation; we feel smacked in the face every time the president opens his mouth. Describing the problem is an essential part of the solution, but it’s just the beginning.

2. Although I don’t know for sure, we probably agree on principle much more than we disagree about the issue that Trump supporters say animates their outrage: immigration. The most pro-immigration among us (I might count myself in this group) are outraged that the President thinks he can violate the Constitution and federal law at will under the guise of “prosecutorial discretion.” We abhor the way illegal immigration undermines the rule of law.  We mourn the way mulitculturalism undermines the notion of e pluribus unum, and facilitates the divisive interest group politics that FDR initiated and Obama perfected. We want people who live in America to be Americans, not “dwellers of a polyglot boarding house,” as Teddy Roosevelt put it.

The most restrictive of us don’t want mass arrests; they aren’t nativists or racists; they believe anyone can come from anywhere to America and truly embrace not just our economy but our culture; they want what immigrants want, for all our children to have a better life than we have had. They want each of us to fulfil our God-given potential and make our country better.

The problem is we talk at each other as adversaries, not friends. Pro-immigration Republicans want to erase the border and don’t care if the country is transformed demographically. Restrictionist Republicans hate foreigners and want to turn the clock back to 1870. Neither caricature is true, and both are deeply destructive. Yet if we just sit here and yell at one another, this is the impression that the country will remember, which brings us to our third problem.

3.  We need every vote we can get. Every single one. As Dr. Brooks correctly observes, people won’t to vote for you if they think you don’t want them on your team. I can’t call someone an idiot one moment and in the next expect them to check the space next to my name. We can’t expect people to vote our way if we haven’t even asked them to do so, in their neighborhood, in the world they inhabit. Rick Perry’s advice — and some of the things Rand Paul have said — have been more helpful on this score. We can change the perception people have of the party by asking for votes in places where we have no chance of winning a majority. We don’t have to win a majority of the black vote to win; we need to persuade those people that are willing to listen to us, but haven’t heard from us for a while.  We need to show people that conservative principles apply to everybody, from the inner city to the gated community.

Canadian Conservatives can also be a model for us this way.  They did not form three consecutive governments by maximizing the number of Calgarians who voted for them, but by actively campaigning in ethnic minority neighborhoods in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and other cities. They won the so-called ethnic vote. Visible minorities in Canada are the entrepreneurs, the social conservatives, the professionals. Sound familiar? There is no reason why American conservatives cannot win a much larger percentage of non-Anglo voters, unless we talk and act as if we don’t want them on our team.

We need to stop demonizing people who support Donald Trump. These are patriotic Americans whose frustration has too often not found a voice in Washington. In case anyone has forgotten, Ross Perot went a long way toward denying Bush 41 a second term, and gave us eight years of Bill Clinton (and the precursor of a President Herself). Perot was crazy; his supporters weren’t. The recent debate and its aftermath may have alienated some of Trump’s supporters, but a lot of people like the idea of Trump sticking a thumb in the eye of the GOP establishment. That frustration is real and legitimate. We need to hear, and respond to, what they have to say. This calls for patient persuasion, not snark. This brings us to problem number four.

4. Donald Trump is not a worthy vehicle for your frustration. I don’t need to go through the litany of characteristics that make him singularly unsuited to be President, but I’ll mention one. Anyone whose first instinct is to call someone stupid or living in a fantasy world, or to whine about difficult questions, shouldn’t be anywhere near the nuclear launch codes. The world isn’t reality TV. The election process chooses the next leader of the free world. There are other candidates who can more legitimately express your disdain for the GOP establishment — Cruz, Rand Paul on his better days, Carly Fiorina (my personal choice) — without exacerbating divisions within the conservative movement.

We need to beat Hillary in 2016. We will do so only if we work together and add to our numbers, while dividing our opposition. Let’s have a vigorous clash of ideas, then come together and win the country — both in our culture and at the ballot box.

Thanks for listening.

Sincerely,

Brian

 

 

 

There are 29 comments.

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  1. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    There is no us. There is no we. There never was or will be. That is perfectly clear to me now.

    There are no conservative principles. There are just dirt bags going around showing old wheelchair bound women shingles to get a check and skip town.

    What a fool I have been.

    • #1
  2. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Can I add a note in the same spirit to all Trump defenders?

    I don’t want Jeb!  I think he would be a disaster.  I think he would lose to Hillary.  I don’t trust his philosophy.  We agree on this.

    It’s too early to endorse — but for now, my support is likely Scott Walker’s to lose.  I’m surprised at how many of you I’ve discussed Trump with end up somewhere similar when it comes down to it.

    We’re disagreeing largely about tactics: is Trump hurting Bush or hurting the rest of the field?  Is his style a breath of politically incorrect fresh air, or just juvenile hot air?  Those are substantial disagreements.

    But on the main points, turns out we’re virtually on the same team.

    • #2
  3. David Sussman Contributor
    David Sussman
    @DaveSussman

    Fantastic post. I would add that the Trumpkins seem to think it’s either a choice of Trump or a robotic establishment Rovian. It’s not. One thing that impressed me at the debate me was the incredible slate of options we have.

    While I’m not a fan of Trump as a candidate, I think Erik Eriksons decision this weekend was wrong. He created a sympathetic character. As long as ANY candidate is able, he/she should be on the dais. It’s not up to the media or Erik Erikson to determine who is a viable candidate. That right still belongs to us. In the meantime, respect each. Be civil. If Trump is disrespectful, then that’s his bed. He can sleep in it.

    UPDATE: Just saw this… adult beverage just shot out my nose.

    • #3
  4. Brian McMenomy Inactive
    Brian McMenomy
    @BrianMcMenomy

    Leigh:Can I add a note in the same spirit to all Trump defenders?

    I don’t want Jeb! I think he would be a disaster. I think he would lose to Hillary. I don’t trust his philosophy. We agree on this.

    It’s too early to endorse — but for now, my support is likely Scott Walker’s to lose. I’m surprised at how many of you I’ve discussed Trump with end up somewhere similar when it comes down to it.

    We’re disagreeing largely about tactics: is Trump hurting Bush or hurting the rest of the field? Is his style a breath of politically incorrect fresh air, or just juvenile hot air? Those are substantial disagreements.

    But on the main points, turns out we’re virtually on the same team.

    Carly Fiorina made a great point today on Fox News Sunday; campaigns reveal how candidates react under pressure, over time.  Put another way; the same sun that hardens clay melts wax.  There is a long way to go and I don’t have 1 candidate to endorse.  I’m comforted that we have at least 6 quality Presidents-in-waiting running; the Dems don’t have 1.

    • #4
  5. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Brian,

    Thank you.

    • #5
  6. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    A wee bit of nervousness, now we are getting somewhere. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    • #6
  7. Brian McMenomy Inactive
    Brian McMenomy
    @BrianMcMenomy

    Quinn the Eskimo:Brian,

    Thank you.

    Very kind of you, thanks for reading.

    • #7
  8. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    Who are the “Pro-immigration Republicans (who) want to erase the border and don’t care if the country is transformed demographically” of which you speak?

    • #8
  9. Tom Wilson Inactive
    Tom Wilson
    @TomWilson

    Thank you Brian Watt for calling for a reality check. Wild accusations will not further conservative aims. Level heads nead to prevail to convince others to join us.

    • #9
  10. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    I love it. Don’t even have to think about it, gotta stand with these two. If Fox were Fair and Balanced as advertised, they would be on Fox and Friends.

    David Sussman:Fantastic post. I would add that the Trumpkins seem to think it’s either a choice of Trump or a robotic establishment Rovian. It’s not. One thing that impressed me at the debate me was the incredible slate of options we have.

    While I’m not a fan of Trump as a candidate, I think Erik Eriksons decision this weekend was wrong. He created a sympathetic character. As long as ANY candidate is able, he/she should be on the dais. It’s not up to the media or Erik Erikson to determine who is a viable candidate. That right still belongs to us. In the meantime, respect each. Be civil. If Trump is disrespectful, then that’s his bed. He can sleep in it.

    UPDATE: Just saw this… adult beverage just shot out my nose.

    • #10
  11. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    Brian Watt:Who are the “Pro-immigration Republicans (who) want to erase the border and don’t care if the country is transformed demographically” of which you speak?

    Jeb and Rubio come immediately to mind. I don’t think either would accomplish much as President because they would be too busy standing at the border handing out green cards.

    • #11
  12. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Carey J.:

    Brian Watt:Who are the “Pro-immigration Republicans (who) want to erase the border and don’t care if the country is transformed demographically” of which you speak?

    Jeb and Rubio come immediately to mind. I don’t think either would accomplish much as President because they would be too busy standing at the border handing out green cards.

    John McCain, Lindsey Graham et.al. … the list exceeds the 250 word limit, only a Reagan member could provide a complete list.

    • #12
  13. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    Carey J.:

    Brian Watt:Who are the “Pro-immigration Republicans (who) want to erase the border and don’t care if the country is transformed demographically” of which you speak?

    Jeb and Rubio come immediately to mind. I don’t think either would accomplish much as President because they would be too busy standing at the border handing out green cards.

    As much as I dislike Jeb even characterizing him as someone who wants to erase the border becomes just hyperbole. Rubio has been consistent in supporting a plan to secure the border in the comprehensive reform measures he’s offered, which also call for financial penalties of illegal immigrants already here amongst other measures (eVerify).

    Of course, there’s always Trump’s plan to somehow get Mexico to pay for and build a massive wall which is apparently the most realistic solution on the table. Uh…yeah…what was I thinking?

    • #13
  14. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    Brian Watt:

    Carey J.:

    Brian Watt:Who are the “Pro-immigration Republicans (who) want to erase the border and don’t care if the country is transformed demographically” of which you speak?

    Jeb and Rubio come immediately to mind. I don’t think either would accomplish much as President because they would be too busy standing at the border handing out green cards.

    As much as I dislike Jeb even characterizing him as someone who wants to erase the border becomes just hyperbole. Rubio has been consistent in supporting a plan to secure the border in the comprehensive reform measures he’s offered, which also call for financial penalties of illegal immigrants already here amongst other measures (eVerify).

    Of course, there’s always Trump’s plan to somehow get Mexico to pay for and build a massive wall which is apparently the most realistic solution on the table. Uh…yeah…what was I thinking?

    I don’t think either Jeb or Rubio can be trusted on immigration. Jeb thinks a mass migration of Latinos is the best thing that could happen to America. Rubio isn’t quite that far around the bend, but his association with Chuck Schumer on immigration reform showed extremely poor judgment, at best.

    • #14
  15. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    Carey J.:

    Brian Watt:

    Carey J.:

    Brian Watt:Who are the “Pro-immigration Republicans (who) want to erase the border and don’t care if the country is transformed demographically” of which you speak?

    Jeb and Rubio come immediately to mind. I don’t think either would accomplish much as President because they would be too busy standing at the border handing out green cards.

    As much as I dislike Jeb even characterizing him as someone who wants to erase the border becomes just hyperbole. Rubio has been consistent in supporting a plan to secure the border in the comprehensive reform measures he’s offered, which also call for financial penalties of illegal immigrants already here amongst other measures (eVerify).

    Of course, there’s always Trump’s plan to somehow get Mexico to pay for and build a massive wall which is apparently the most realistic solution on the table. Uh…yeah…what was I thinking?

    I don’t think either Jeb or Rubio can be trusted on immigration. Jeb thinks a mass migration of Latinos is the best thing that could happen to America. Rubio isn’t quite that far around the bend, but his association with Chuck Schumer on immigration reform showed extremely poor judgment, at best.

    It did. And Rubio addressed that at CPAC. He actually stopped supporting the Gang of Eight bill before it came up for a vote because he felt the issue was too complex to be handled in a single gargantuan bill. Admittedly, he needs to offer up a more coherent message prior to primary season on precisely what his form of immigration reform looks like – but whatever it is, it will include increased border enforcement. But to say he has advocated erasing the border is just hyperbole fueled by anger or character assassination.

    Thankfully we have The Donald (Coulter’s “Big Man”) who by force of personality will solve this and all America’s problems because everyone else is a loser or a flake.

    • #15
  16. Could be Anyone Member
    Could be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    I concur with Mr. Watt. the Trumpkins are letting their anger over percieved political failures blind them in rage. As Mr. McMenomy already stated, most of us on the right have the same political goals. The issue I think is that many on the right (and the left) love these tenets out of blind love for tradition. In both cases you hear them speak of defending their way of life without any substance on why it is more efficient or morally superior to alternative ways. This was perhaps most personified with Trump during the debate and his lack of substance and personal slur attacks on others when asked about policy by the moderators.

    This is why Trump appeals. He promises the messiah like salvation from the failures of the previous administration (just as Barack did the same when campaigning against McCain and painting him as the same as the alleged failure of Bush) and that he will make America “great again”. Couple this with his celebrity status and anti-politician rhetoric and you have that popular demagogue.

    He promises the purge of politics and its inefficiencies (which people on both the left and right find appealing, the right because they think they get nothing currently and the left because they think they don’t get enough) in favor of a dictatorship raised on a throne by the people to enact their unified will as the benevolent philosopher king of old. To be honest I find his talk to be empty and disgusting but I know many like it, regardless of location or alleged political identify (in the small town I was raised in I knew of several who voiced approval of him during 2008 and 2012, mostly because they thought he was smart because he was wealthy).

    This ignorance feeds into his cult of personality and is a symptom of our lack of out reach in advocating classical liberal ideals. If a person is a classical liberal then they would never support such populist demogaguery because the ends do not justify the means. Trump’s wealth was inherited and given that the legal system since FDR has favored the political entrepreneurs this means his rise in wealth (founded in heavily regulated markets like casinos and real estate) is most likely a result of corruption (as he proudly proclaimed during the debate).

    This is a symptom of his narcissism which enables him to take any side he sees as advantegous to himself and has resulted in his many political changes. In short he has no principles and is a symbol of the failure of the progressive vision.

    • #16
  17. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Guruforhire:There is no us.There is no we.There never was or will be.That is perfectly clear to me now.

    There are no conservative principles.There are just dirt bags going around showing old wheelchair bound women shingles to get a check and skip town.

    What a fool I have been.

    What exactly are you talking about?   I have no idea what you are saying.

    • #17
  18. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    As far  as  I can tell,  Trump  Supports want a fighter  who speaks clearly.

    Ted Cruz is  fighter who has fought on a Big Stage ( the Senate ),  speaking clearly at personal risk to his career.   He has not won many of the battles,  but has prepared the ground for victories to come.  I do not personally like him or his tactics,  but I respect him and his integrity.   He is the real deal.

    Scott Walker is a fighter who has fought on a Big Stage (Wisconsin ),  speaking enigmatically,  at personal risk to his career.   He has also won big battles against long odds.  He is the real deal.

    Donald Trump is a fighter who has verbally destroyed a Fox Talking Head,   who has driven multiple businesses bankrupt while getting exceedingly rich himself ( no personal risk ).    He is flashing lights  and noise  at a casino.

    I think Trump supporters who want a True Fighter should abandon Trump and  either support Cruz  or Walker,  depending on their personal taste.    At least get a real fighter that fights about real issues  at real risk to themselves.  Both  Cruz and  Walker present a real chance at real victories.

    • #18
  19. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Brian Watt:Who are the “Pro-immigration Republicans (who) want to erase the border and don’t care if the country is transformed demographically” of which you speak?

    He’s not speaking of any.  Check the context (emphasis mine):

    The problem is we talk at each other as adversaries, not friends. Pro-immigration Republicans want to erase the border and don’t care if the country is transformed demographically. Restrictionist Republicans hate foreigners and want to turn the clock back to 1870. Neither caricature is true, and both are deeply destructive.

    • #19
  20. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    E. Kent Golding: I think Trump supporters who want a True Fighter should abandon Trump and  either support Cruz  or Walker,  depending on their personal taste.

    Moreover, so far as I can tell Cruz’s position is no further left than Trump’s (to the extent Trump’s is coherent) and Walker’s is to his right.

    Moreover, unless you think the name “Republican” is the very definition of “establishment” and Clinton friendship doesn’t apply, those two are as alien to the real establishment as you can get.

    Trump is a card-carrying member of the East Coast social elite: proud of his wealth, proud of his corruption, shameless in his disregard for the manners that hold a decent society together (under the guise of political incorrectness).

    Cruz is anti-establishment by definition: his whole career is focused on tearing it down.  That’s why he refuses to criticize Trump directly — a position I’d respect more if he didn’t spend so much time criticizing every other Republican.  That elite detests Cruz.

    Walker hasn’t spent time attacking the establishment because he has real things to do, and he doesn’t call anyone names.  But he’ll calmly sign a gun-rights bill as the media screams about “timing.”  He hasn’t collected billions — he gave thousands back to Milwaukee County.  He’s the one who is willing to hold his ground on a position even if it means he loses a Wall Street backer.

    • #20
  21. Flossy Inactive
    Flossy
    @Flossy

    As Mark Halperin has infamously said:

    “Hillary’s primary focus it to create mayhem in the GOP primary race.”

    Welcome to mayhem.

    • #21
  22. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Who’s more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?

    • #22
  23. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Brian McMenomy: Ross Perot went a long way toward denying Bush 41 a second term, and gave us eight years of Bill Clinton

    It has been a while, but I don’t believe the exit polling at the time supports this theory. “New taxes”, not Ross Perot, did in Bush.

    • #23
  24. Adriana Harris Inactive
    Adriana Harris
    @AdrianaHarris

    Great post. I’m constantly surprised at how vehemently Trump supporters defend him. They want someone who will fight for their beliefs, but they are backing a guy who doesn’t share their beliefs. Until recently Trump has supported single payer healthcare and amnesty. He says the system is corrupt and gives examples of he he has personally corrupted it. I don’t need a paragon of virtue to vote for, but I’d like someone who has been a conservative for more than five minutes.

    • #24
  25. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Jamie Lockett:Who’s more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?

    I want to follow old Ronnie Wan on some damn fool idealistic crusade like my father did.

    • #25
  26. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    On the immigration issue: My own views have changed over the past 6-8 years, and my impression is that this is also true of the Republican base in general.

    For me personally, and I think for most of the base, a “path to citizenship” is now out of the question.  And, generally, a politician supporting a “path to citizenship” is unacceptable.  Ten years ago, if I remember correctly, I supported a “path to citizenship” concept, though not “amnesty” — meaning that my policy preference at the time was to require payment of significant fines as a condition of legalization for anyone here illegally.

    My impression is that this changed dramatically, and mainly as a result of the political maneuvering of the Democrats, who are transparently trying to build their voter base by converting illegal immigrants into Democrat-voting citizens.

    Now I find it hard to imagine that I could support any bill allowing citizenship for illegals.  To the contrary, my strong inclination is to tell the Dems, as a starting point in any negotiations on immigration reform, that they must agree that those who came here illegally will never be allowed to be citizens.  We may or may not allow them to stay as a practical matter, and we may or may not grant them legal residency, but citizenship is completely off the table.

    • #26
  27. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    If we manage to secure the border first what is the objection to a path to citizenship?

    • #27
  28. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    Jamie Lockett:If we manage to secure the border first what is the objection to a path to citizenship?

    New citizens are forever. The border is only as secure as the administration in power will let it be. If the Great Wall of China were teleported to our southern border, Obama would order the military to blow holes in it.

    • #28
  29. Adriana Harris Inactive
    Adriana Harris
    @AdrianaHarris

    Jamie Lockett:If we manage to secure the border first what is the objection to a path to citizenship?

    I’m in favor of a path to legal status after securing the boarder, but citizenship is a prize that should not be awarded to people who broke our laws to come or be here.

    • #29
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