My father had just got home on June 15, 2015, and I had been working on starting a College Republicans chapter at Southeast Missouri State University. “Donald Trump announced he’s running for president,” he said. My response was a half-hearted laugh, knowing his candidacy would be a joke and last until August or so. After all, I was expecting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to runaway with the lead.
Now, more than a year later, Donald Trump is the Republican Party nominee. Riding on a platform of anger and indignant jingoism, Trump won just enough states by plurality to put him in frontrunner status. By the time a non-Trump alternative emerged, the delegate count was already determined.
Even after the GOP convention, Trump maintains one of the largest unfavorable ratings of any modern general election candidate. In the primaries, he often brought up the polls, something he doesn’t do anymore– probably because he’s losing most of them. It’s bad enough that even my home state of Missouri is at play, even though the state is more Republican leaning than ever before.
The worst part is the image Trump has created for the GOP. In a year that our party could have won by a landslide, Trump has deeply damaged Republican credibility. By subscribing to a mentality of anger and insult instead of a steadfast hold to small government and personal liberties, Donald Trump has led the party astray. In a year when the American people needed positivity and policy, Trump has offered fury and resentment.
There are countless reasons to support Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, and as much as he is a flawed candidate, she is even worse. The question is not whether you should or should not vote for Trump in November, but rather where the Conservative movement and the Republican Party go after November 8th, 2016.
We have a choice between building walls and attempting to deport 12 million people, or encouraging Americans from all walks of life to take pride in our truly great country. We have a choice of using anger to support a protectionist, costly trade policy, or we can free people with free markets. Ultimately we have the path of Trump and anger, or we can revisit and rebuild off of the likes of Lincoln and Reagan.
When November comes, the Republican Party is likely going to be prepared to write yet another autopsy report. Instead of blaming and having a trade policy to punish China and foreign entities, we need to move to a position of reforming our regulatory state to encourage small business to stay here and larger businesses to come back here. Instead of playing around the tax code, we can propose closing loopholes and work on reducing the middle and lower-income tax burden. Instead of supporting the status quo of expecting a government shut down every few years, we can slash spending and reform social welfare programs to give people a hand and ensure generations to come will not be shackled to debt.
It’s time we seriously take our compassionate conservatism to the urban communities so that they understand our reforms, beliefs, and values work. We have to come together as a united Republican Party.
Anger that has fueled the likes Donald Trump and Paul Nehlen is understandable, but this is not the future of the Grand Old Party. The examples of Senators Ben Sasse and Marco Rubio, Governors Nikki Haley and Scott Walker, and individuals like Carly Fiorina and Matt Pinnell are the new faces of the Republican Party.
The Conservative movement is a car and we are the driver. Overall, the cracked pavement of an election season will not dictate our road to a brighter and better tomorrow. It’s just our job to drive responsibly enough to keep our movement going.