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Let’s Never Do This Again

“I’m conservative, but I’m not a nut about it.” –President George H.W. Bush

I don’t know about you, but I constantly have to remind myself that not everyone loves politics as much as I do. People have better things to do. They have more important things to worry about; things that, frankly, the current two candidates haven’t been addressing. They don’t watch 3 hours of FOX, NBC, CBS, or CNN every night, and they don’t tune into the debates uninterrupted. People have families to take care of, bills to pay, work to do. I keep realizing that if I’m sick of this election (as much of a political junkie as I am), then the general public has to be just on the edge of vomiting.

We have come a long way in the last eighteen months, through a Democratic primary that primed the coronation of a woman who has always wanted to be president, and a Republican primary field so large that it paved the way for a clown to take over the ringmaster duties at the circus.

We are now approximately three weeks out from the day of reckoning, and God bless America for having endured this.

This election has ripped at the fabric of our communities, our political parties, our friendships, and our families. It has disgraced the dignity of the office of President of the United States, and set ablaze our process of nominating two qualified people to be commander-in-chief. I fear it will never be the same.

The only hope we have at this moment comes from a resounding victory provided to us by our Constitution and Founding Fathers: coequal branches of government. The latest NBC/WSJ Poll showed just that 53-percent of respondents said they would be “more likely” to vote for a Republican congressional candidate to be a “check-and-balance to Hillary Clinton.” How awesome is that? The same voters who give Clinton a massive lead in that poll are willing to split their collective tickets and vote for Republicans to ensure that she does not wield the power that comes with unified party control in the federal government. That should stand as a stunning indictment of the GOP: your voters (at least a good chunk of them) are willing to support you down-ticket, but not at the top. The GOP is standing behind a candidate who is driving away some of the most important groups: women, minorities, young people, college-educated voters, and even several religious group. That is not a winning coalition for the future; and the future should always be the main concern.

Trump supporters can yell all day long about media bias, polling bias, or a rigged systems, but none of those things are distinct to Mr. Trump– none will explain his loss. If his voters focus on those, they’ll fall into this same trap year-after-year. Mr. Trump is likely going to lose handily, and it won’t be because of some rogue poll-worker in Philadelphia– it will be because he chose to be the worst candidate ever nominated to run for the highest office…and I don’t say that flippantly. I mean it.

No other candidate that I can think of has run a less-organized, haphazard, destructive campaign, completely devoid of ideas or policy. I would call it laughable, but it isn’t. It isn’t laughable to put our relationship with our allies in jeopardy. It isn’t laughable to incite violence at a rally and offer to pay the legal fees. It isn’t laughable to mock the disabled. It isn’t laughable to suggest a 45-percent tariff is better for the American worker than free trade. It isn’t laughable to brag about using celebrity status to get away with sexual assault. It isn’t laughable to believe that the world needs more nuclear weapons. It isn’t laughable to suggest that you know more about ISIS than the generals do. It isn’t laughable to attack members of your own party who question or doubt your ability (especially when you’ve shown no ability at all). It isn’t laughable, when you’re losing, to attempt to butcher your political party on the way out. It isn’t laughable.

It isn’t conservative. It isn’t patriotic. It isn’t helpful. It damn sure isn’t winning.

At some point, this election turned. I believe it turned with nomination of Donald J. Trump. He has had ups-and-downs in polling, but his chance to win has always been a steep climb. He once promised so much winning that we would be “sick of it.” If this is what it looks like, then yes, I’m sick of it. He’s losing in almost every battleground, and in almost every reputable national poll. Post-convention national polling has not been wrong since 1948. Voters would be well-served to remember that.

Donald Trump avoided political gravity right to the moment that it snuck up, and grabbed him by the… yeah. He’s outmanned, outworked, out-strategized, and out-funded. Losing is not a good look on him, and he’s not taking it well. He’s decided not only to crash, but to crash and burn. The best hope for the GOP is that people separate the identity of Donald J. Trump from the true Republican Party. We must hope he hasn’t made an irreversible impression on voters of color, of the female gender, and of the younger age group. The grotesque stench of the Trump campaign will be basted on the party by opponents, but we must overcome it. We cannot pretend he never happened, and we must acknowledge why he happened. But for the sake of the future, we can’t allow him to keep happening.

Donald Trump’s voters cannot be written off. They are needed. Their concerns are legitimate. Their collective crying out for something different is understandable. (In this regard, it’s important to keep in mind that the problem wasn’t his lack of political experience; it turned out to be his lack of a willingness to learn. We could see a non-political candidate in the future perform much better).

The GOP must have a tent large enough to include them. That same tent can’t be exclusive to GOP voters, though. It must be large enough to win a general election. It must include moderates, independents, and swing voters. It must include women, Hispanics, African-Americans, college-educated voters. It must be a coalition, not a devoted cult. It cannot revolve around personality. It must revolve around ideas. It must bind us together, not rip us apart.

Hillary Clinton would be the least-liked presidential candidate in history if we hadn’t nominated the least-like presidential candidate in history instead. I hope this election and the deplorable depths it has reached, serves as a long, sorrowful glance in the mirror for those of us who consider ourselves Republicans, whether the hard-right or the moderate-middle. Voters are tossing aside some policy differences with Mrs. Clinton over the economy, abortion, and healthcare, in order to maintain the basic stability of the office of president. They have moved away from seeing this a “Left-versus-Right” election, and are seeing it as a “qualified-versus-unqualified” election. It’s a stunning moment in American history, and we can only hope it’s not a lasting one. Barring something explosive or catastrophic, voters seem ready to choose dishonest-but-steady over different-but-unstable. That should never have been the choice.

Let’s never do this again.

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