The weekend’s last RedState Gathering panel tried to keep a stiff upper lip in the face of the Trump Revolution.
Only reality kept getting in the way.
Katie Pavlich, a Townhall editor and Fox News contributor, spoke what was probably on many attendees’ minds Sunday. She clearly didn’t take any joy in putting it out there.
“There aren’t as many conservatives in the country as we thought there were,” Pavlich said during the last of three intellectually packed days in Denver. The rise of Donald Trump, compounded with avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, made that all too clear over the past six months.
“When people like [conservative Sen.] Ben Sasse are the ‘enemy,’ we’re in a really bad spot,” she added.
Pavlich shared the stage with Townhall.com’s Guy Benson, RedState Managing Editor Leon Wolf and radio talker Erick Erickson.
The focus? Moving forward after Election Day.
No votes have been tallied yet, but the panel agreed on the outcome. Trump will lose, and lose badly to Hillary Clinton.
“The die is cast,” Wolf warned the crowd. “I feel more at peace with that every day. We’re not facing 30 percent unemployment or a physical civil war. … I have faith in the country that we’ll get through it either way.”
Benson gently disagreed.
Democrats spent the last eight years undermining much of what makes this country special, Benson said. Now, we’re about to elect a woman he called both “corrupt” and a “liar” who could do even worse.
“We need leadership desperately … we have a lot of work to do,” Benson said.
Next page: Some reasons for optimism.
The group pointed to leaders like Carly Fiorina, Josh Hawley and Sasse in particular as reasons for optimism.
“These are some good people, and they’re on our team,” Benson said.
The panelists pointed to one area where Republicans had only themselves to blame for the current mess: making promises they knew they couldn’t keep.
Take ObamaCare. How many GOP hopefuls campaigned on repealing the serially flawed legislation? Yet without controlling the White House, there was nothing a senator or congressman could do about it.
That left voters seething.
In other ways, the voters themselves let the GOP down. Pavlich said the Republican Party of old would never have accepted a candidate like Trump, whose positions on health care, free speech and trade sound downright progressive.
“We used to hold our elected officials to a higher standard,” she said.
The rise of Trump, whose statements on women and minorities have made him a laughingstock in many quarters, also undid eight years of outreach by Republican officials. Those groups are critical to the party’s future success.
“Now, it’s been completely wiped out,” she said.