First, let me say that I’m personally ready for this election cycle to be over. I’ve lost Facebook friends, sleep, and maybe even my sanity- all over two unqualified candidates who have managed to evoke the worst in all of us. Some friends of mine have even taken a social media hiatus while others engage in just about every political post or tweet as if they were on some Trump-ian crusade.
While my interactions with leftists remains largely unchanged, erroneous statistics and virtue-signaling, my conversations with fellow conservatives have morphed into a strange combination of camaraderie and latent animosity. We seem to put up with each other because we have the same opponent (leftist ideas and tyrannical government policies), but divide over whether candidates like Trump can defeat this foe.
Whatever side of the Trump debate you fall on, one thing both sides needs to accept is the fact that after November eighth, we’re going to have to come together and figure out what happens next.
To be clear, I’m not talking about the Alt-Right, a group of pro-Trump white nationalists who conflate politically incorrect speech with douchbag-ery and tweet antisemitic posts. I’m talking about Republicans and Conservatives who still believe in the Constitution and what it stands for as well as basic morality, even if it does not include a higher power.
I think the first thing the Right needs to do is realize we have a problem, that we’ve made a mistake. Our party had 17 candidates, 16 of whom who were decent enough to run against a truly terrible candidate like Hillary and we voted for Donald Trump to represent us. We had a Christian doctor, governors, a constitutionalist senator, a former CEO of a huge tech company, etc. Now we are losing to Hillary- Hillary.
To be fair, the media hoarded Trump’s skeletons in their closet, letting us see Trump in a positive light, until after the primaries. Anyone watching saw the media defend Trump as a bold businessman challenging the establishment types like Jeb Bush rather than an uninformed and immature narcissist. Trump also had name recognition. No one knew who Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina were until they took the first debate stage. Meanwhile, Donald Trump had published books, built hotels and casinos, starred in a television show ‘The Apprentice’, etc.
We’ve fallen short in three key areas, however.
Firstly, we failed to do our research. We took no initiative to uncover the skeletons before anyone had a chance to spin them in a particular direction. The media, as well as Trump’s surrogates, have had a huge influence on voters when they might have been rendered innocuous if voters had looked for the facts first.
Secondly, much of the Right has forgotten the values that embody true Conservatism, making them vulnerable to exploitation. A good example of this is when a candidate says he’ll bring jobs back to Americans by creating trade tariffs with other countries. This sounds great to Americans until they try and buy an iphone, only to discover it now costs twelve hundred dollars. “Make America Great Again” sounds…well, great, until we realize we no longer have the freedom to trade with countries for cheaper products and have less and less money in our pockets. When Republicans forget the values that brought us together, it’s easy to be swayed by those who claim to fight for us when, in fact, this isn’t always the case.
Thirdly, we’ve fallen short on the issue of morality. The argument this entire election has been that Trump is the only one who can beat Hillary. Even some of my staunch-ier conservative friends traded in their Cruz and Carson t-shirts for Trump hats when the polls largely favored Trump. The problem with this argument is that we’re choosing victory over values- and there’s a good chance we’ll end up with neither. Instead of holding out for a true conservative contestant, we’ve chosen one we thought would beat Hillary in a landslide, giving up our deeply held principles to support him…and now we (most likely) have neither the presidency nor values.
Am I saying that all Trump supporters are bad or dumb? Absolutely not. Your vote is your vote and I know that in this particular election, you are not casting it lightly. We’ve all lost some sleep over this decision. There’s also still a decent argument for voting for Trump- he’s better than the evil and morally bankrupt Hillary. The ‘lesser of two evils’ argument still holds. With today’s polls, however, it’s looking like Hillary is still likely to win the election, even with the Wikileaks/email server scandal. Would the Right have lost if we’d supported another candidate- possibly- but at least we wouldn’t have been associated with someone who’s accused people of assassination, supported transgender restrooms, attacked veterans and the disabled, and wrongly pitted voters against decent congressmen. (I’m sure that last part will get me labeled as part of the establishment).
After the election, especially if Trump loses, we will have to do some major soul-searching and rediscover the fundamental principles the party was built on. Unlike a small minority, I personally do not want to burn the party down and rebuild a whole new one. I still believe we can change and refine the party we have into a strong and powerful movement by recommitting ourselves to our founding principles. People like Donald Trump have done some good in calling out the media bias and forcing the left to confront issues like radical Islam, but he’s also put a rift in the party. After the election, even if we lose the battle, we’re going to have to come together- all Trump voters and “Never Trumpers”- with compassion and grace, if we’re going to win the war. There is no divide and conquer here.