The GOP Can’t Afford to Leave Trump’s Voters Behind
The president set us on the right course for a lot of policy. It's time to continue down that path without his baggage to weigh us down.
Let’s be perfectly clear, fellow conservatives. 2021 started off on a poor note.
Two hazardously progressive lawmakers are headed to the United State Senate to give the Democrats a slim majority. Minimizing this reality will not furnish a beneficial outcome, nor will submitting to the notion that the left is not actually serious about their espoused platform. That platform includes providing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants; repealing economy-stimulating tax cuts; moving forward with public-option healthcare; eliminating the filibuster; conferring statehood on Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico; and packing the highest court in the land with progressive judges.
Clearly, given its inability even to hold the Senate, the Republican party is at war with itself. On January 6th, thousands of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol, forcing an evacuation and resulting in multiple deaths. Regardless of the fact that President Trump’s numerous litigation was to no avail in states across the country, Trump, a handful of prominent Senators, and many of his supporters still demanded to “stop the steal.” Now, the party is more divided than ever between the Trumpers, the Bush-Romney camp, and those who supported Trump’s policies but wish to move forward with candidates with less panicky volatility.
I am firmly in the third camp. Let me explain why.
President Trump delivered on a lot of promises. His accomplishments are many—as Jerome Hudson rightfully points out in his comprehensive 2019 book 50 Things They Don’t Want You to Know About Trump. Two things can be true at once.
Conservatives can be proud of what President Trump, the outsider, has duly accomplished—and, like me, wholly angered with the conspiratorial, oddball nature that has taken precedent over the policy. There are many conservatives who have taken to Twitter to claim erroneous things—like Trump “won” their state even when the evidence indicates he did not. The president’s rhetoric was never my favorite even prior to his claims being denied in court, but these past few months it’s been completely bogus—as were his ill-advised comments on the imperfectWashington Post leaked call concerning Dominion hacks.
In Georgia, those in rural counties stayed home. They partly did so because their President was endlessly telling them that their votes would not matter, that the game was rigged—and that he would somehow still be in office after January. Trump left the GOP’s rural-white voters with the feeling that Loeffler and Perdue were already doomed. The same goes with Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, who are products of Trump’s wild imagination concerning fraud.
Trump should have been campaigning for Loeffler and Perdue these last few weeks, not parading around like an infantile sore loser, convincing Americans that his race was of great importance instead. Sure, he campaigned for the Georgia candidates. But throughout the process his focus was on his own election. And this was a distraction. He haphazardly condemned the mob, and it showed. He threw Mike Pence under the bus.
Michael Knowles coined a term in 2020: “court-jester conservatives.” These are the Republican lawmakers who enjoy wearing the GOP badge for election purposes but are willing to bow down to the left in voting in order to appease the mainstream culture. The court-jester conservatives crave to be liked in all regards and are thus moderate. They get perpetually patted on the back by the leftist media commentators as somehow legitimate conservatives who submit to the authentically old ways. Of course, the old conservative ways were never favored by the left—and they perpetuate the notion that the right is always getting more and more radical as time goes on.
There are many Trump-policy supporters, myself included, who can find an inroad between the court-jester conservatives and the radical populists. And we should feel welcome to do so. After all, independent thinking is a defining feature of the true conservative, who consciously believes in ordered liberty and freedom of expression. I offer this to Republicans moving forward.
Do not adopt the leftist strategy of trying to oppress the conservative thinker who holds many views at one time concerning political strategy. Many Trump supporters (the strong populist wing) are calling blasphemy on any conservatives who do not necessarily believe the election was stolen—even those like myself who believe that some fraud and suspicious activity occurred. We also believe the media, if anyone, rigged the election by their suppression of important information, such as the Hunter Biden New York Post report. We believe in the courts—and our president’s ability to bring about effective change—but do not believe in peddling in conspiracy theories that merely support the narrative one wishes to be true. These falsehoods caused a major transfer of power in the Senate, and they caused Americans to riot in our capital.
On the flip side, there are NeverTrumpers who are crawling back out of their shells and antagonizing those who do not abide by establishment remedies. Jim Geraghty at National Review suggests that the GOP needs to centralize the suburbanite and not the working-class American. This is purely alienating; we need both. Geraghty and other Republicans who are turning their backs on millions of Trump voters are making a mistake that will cost them in the long run. Because I can tell you one thing: when I went to the Trump rally in Harrisburg, PA this past summer, I met a hell of a lot of great people who merely want their freedom. They want quiet lives distant from government, as well as hellish mobs like Antifa and the other Trumpers who raided Washington, D.C. The left and the right are both getting it wrong right now; while the left is alienating conservatives through an Orwellian social media purge and cleansing — many on the high-brow right are trying to enact the same through class-based division rhetoric.
We need to craft a political future that takes the virtues of the Trump Moment and disposes of the obvious vices. Trump had excellent policies, but his rhetoric and compulsive fabrication of information on Twitter is not for me. Maybe it is for others who do not wish to investigate and verify facts. So be it.
Preparing for the future of this country also means moving forward with legislation on election security. If Republicans are serious about Trump’s allegations, then they ought to make a strong effort in the future to limit mail-in voting, ensure only same-day voting, ensure states have to count votes and let poll watchers inside. It’s time to get down to business with strategizing about this country, not complaining about the past we cannot recreate.
Sure, Trump eventually told the lunatics to stand down; but when he finally did, he managed to also focus on the claim that we must ‘stop the steal’—the precise reason they were rioting in the first place. News flash: if a sectarian wing of a party is continuously told that an election was rigged by their commander-in-chief, isn’t the next practical step in their eyes to attempt a coup?
2021 will be a steep incline for the GOP in the Senate, as well as for the sparring party itself. If the establishment ignores the grievances that got Trump elected in the first place and inspired his supporters to storm the Capitol, things are apt to get much worse.
Gabe Kaminsky is a rising senior at the University of Pittsburgh and a spring Academy fellow at The Heritage Foundation. His writing has appeared in the Daily Wire, Townhall, The Washington Times, Washington Examiner, RealClearPolitics, and other outlets. Follow him on Twitter @Gabe__Kaminsky.