News & Politics

Trump Is Anti-Republican, Not Anti-Establishment

I confess to being obsessed with the Trump campaign. A long-time friend with whom I attended high school and now know primarily through social media contacted me the other day to gently suggest I moderate my protest against the unconventional candidate. He wrote:

I understand you do not like Donald Trump. When you and many other republican friends have 100% of their last 20 some posts mention Trump, I worry that even negative publicity is good publicity. Do you have a good alternative to promote instead of talking about Trump all the time? Maybe it’s part of your job to talk about Trump?

My reply:

No not part of the job, just an obsession of the moment. I think the reason is because of the stakes folks like me perceive if Trump is the nominee. For me, someone who has contributed much to the Republican cause over the past eight years, this is deeply personal. My party is being destroyed. The progress of efforts to define the brand as inclusive and respectful of individual rights is being undone in a fraction of the time it took to make it. It’s like someone affiliating with your church in your community only to treat everyone around them like garbage and completely misrepresent doctrine. He’s ruining our reputation and destroying our “ministry.”

I don’t have an alternative to promote. My alternative dropped out of the race weeks ago, and those left don’t inspire much enthusiasm. Besides, at this point, I think there’s little point in hoping for another nominee. At this point, Republicans who feel like me can only work to denounce Trump in hopes of salvaging something of the Republican brand.

I got involved in Republican Party politics in 2009 as part of the Tea Party wave and have fought the “establishment,” defined as the status quo, each year since. The goal has been reforming the party toward a focus on individual rights, fiscal responsibility, and constitutionally limited government. Trump’s candidacy threatens each of those goals. His acquisition of power would serve only his personal interests, not those of the nation, and certainly not those articulated in our founding documents.

Recent days have seen an unprecedented movement within a major party to oppose its own presumptive nominee. House Speaker Paul Ryan denounced Trump in a statement responding to the candidate’s hesitation to renounce David Duke and the KKK. Senator Ben Sasse has taken the lead among elected Republicans to declare he will not support Trump as the nominee. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney will address the state of the race on Thursday, presumably speaking directly to the prospect of a Trump nomination. On the ground, activists spanning the ideological spectrum within the Republican Party, from “establishment” to Tea Party, express exasperation at the prospect of a Trump nomination. There’s serious talk of the Republican Party imploding and a legitimate third party emerging.

Strange bedfellows are being made between previously disparate aspects of the party. When Lindsey Graham suggests voters rally behind Ted Cruz, you know we’ve entered a political Twilight Zone. It all bolsters the conclusion that Trump is more than “anti-establishment.” He’s fundamentally anti-Republican. No other conclusion explains the widespread rejection of his candidacy by thought leaders from every faction within the party. He represents only unrefined angst against the status quo, anger with uncertain purpose. Nothing good will come of his nomination.