So this past weekend, the politicians and political pundits dominated the headlines with questions as to whether and how presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump could unify the Party. Before you get all nervous about this let’s remembers a couple of things. First, controversy is the mother’s milk of political reporting. I mean, who wants to report about some kumbaya gathering? That’s one news cycle at best while controversy, conflict and mayhem can go on for days.
And second, the news people that are reveling in the reports of more difficulty for Mr. Trump are the same people who routinely predicted the doom and demise of Mr. Trump at every turn in the road. Even the staid Wall Street Journal has joined the “Armageddon” crowd in publishing an article by some nitwit named Bret Stephens who suggests that the best thing for the Republican Party is the election of Hillary Clinton. The sheer lunacy of suggesting that a money-grubbing, corrupt, congenital liar who has made the politics of personal destruction – including the destruction of the women her husband abused – an art form, as a plausible solution for what ails the nation or the Republican Party, consigns Mr. Stephens to the lowest rungs of stupid. In a twist on the immortal words of Charles Barkley – they may be right, but I doubt it.
Does Mr. Trump have an obligation to unify the Republican Party? Absolutely! But just who constitutes the Republican Party? Is it the 301 Republican members of Congress? I doubt that. The rise of Donald Trump is largely due to the unwillingness or inability of the Republican Congress to do anything to address the nation’s problems despite the fact that they control the purse strings absolutely. Is it the Republican political elites? I doubt that. That group put up thirteen of their “best and brightest” and each fell woefully short of attracting even a plurality of votes during the primary season.
Well maybe it is the vast middle class of Americans who have given Republicans at the state level a majority of governors, state legislators and statewide elected officials. Maybe it is those state level Republicans who have repeatedly pulled their states out of the economic doldrums caused by the failure of President Barack Obama to actually understand or address an anemic economy where marginal growth and massive unemployment (as evidenced by the lowest national labor participation rates in nearly four decades) have become the “new normal” and the Congressional Republicans have sat idly by – critical but unwilling to act. Maybe it includes the working men and women who now earn less than when Mr. Obama took office, and pay more for healthcare with fewer choices before Obamacare was imposed on them by lying, cheating and paying for critical votes.
Maybe it includes men and women who fear for their safety – waiting for another attack by Islamic terrorist and cognizant that Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton are unwilling to condemn the attacks as emanating from the radical wing of Islam, unwilling to secure the borders through which these terrorists pass, and unwilling to suspend the wholesale immigration of Muslims from countries currently engulfed in wars with Islamic terrorists until a verifiable screening process is in place. (Remember, the Obama administration procedures admitted a fully radicalized Tasheen Malik prior to her entry and thus unleashed her on the San Bernadino community resulting in the deaths of fourteen people and the serious injury to twenty-two others.)
Yes, Mr. Trump has an obligation – but it is to unify the disaffected before he unifies the party stalwarts.
Is Mr. Trump a Republican – a conservative? Well sort of. There is no question that he believes in economic growth, smaller and more effective government, less governmental intrusion, a strong national defense and an immediate reduction in the nation’s massive and unfunded debt. He doesn’t believe in international free trade but he does believe in international fair trade. He does believe in the importance of America as a stabilizing force in the world – but he does not believe that it should be free to those nations who benefit from that stabilization. And in that regard he does not believe that America must necessarily be universally loved but he does demand that we be respected – there is a difference that has escaped Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton for eight years.
But more importantly, there is not a single one of those principles with which Ms. Clinton agrees – a fact that the “not Trump” idiots seem to miss. Regardless of what you may think of the man, the principles to which he adheres are definitely mainstream Republican, and more importantly, mainstream America.
However, unifying the Republican Party is not enough. Mr. Trump needs to change. First, stop “rising to the bait.” In the calm aftermath of one of his blowtorch responses, Mr. Trump must recognize that the press is goading him. He needs to turn that back against them. My favorite response has always been: That’s the dumbest effing question I have ever heard and I’m not going to answer it.
Second, get a thicker skin. Ms. Clinton and the Clinton machine are masters of the politics of personal destruction. What they are going to say about Mr. Trump – virtually all of which will be based on innuendo, half-truths and guilt by association – will devour the normal person like piranhas on prey. Don’t get angry, get even by winning the election and then loosing the Justice Department on the Clinton crime family.
And finally, be prepared to apologize when you are wrong. There is a telling exchange between Mr. Trump and FOX News journalist Megyn Kelly in an upcoming television special hosted by Ms. Kelly. Mr. Trump acknowledges that he has great respect for Ms. Kelly because of her willingness to reach out to Mr. Trump for an interview despite an eight-month feud between the two. In doing so, he admits that he personally doubted that he could have done the same. And yet he has to be able to do precisely that. If you aspire to be the leader of world’s most powerful nation, you must accept the humility to admit mistakes as a prerequisite to lead. (Contrast that with the arrogance of Mr. Obama and his insipid presumption that he is the smartest man in the room.)
In the end, the presidential race boils down to one of two choices – Mr. Trump or Ms. Clinton. You can wish like hell that it was somebody else on either or both tickets but this is what it is. The third choice of not voting simply leaves the decision in others’ hands and far from washing your hands of any responsibility for the outcome, you are precisely responsible for not having acted.