It has been fashionable the last two weeks to pen articles attacking Donald Trump, the front-runner in the race for the Republican Party nomination for President. “He’s not a true conservative.” “He’s not Ronald Reagan,” they said. The jury’s still out on whether or not he’s a true conservative, but we can agree that he is not Ronald Reagan.
I would say he is more like Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln had been elected to Congress as a member of the Whig Party, but he parted company with the Whigs and joined the Republicans, when the Whig leaders wouldn’t take a stand on the biggest issue of the day—slavery. The country’s whole future hung on the issue of slavery. Lincoln was against it, but the Whigs didn’t want to ruffle the feathers of pro-slavery voters. Lincoln became President, won the Civil War, and ended that barbaric practice. The Whig Party disappeared from the national stage and became a paragraph in history books. You can almost hear the Whig poobahs saying about Lincoln, “He’s not a true conservative. He flip-flopped on the tariff issue.” Small minds, small issues.
Similarly, Donald Trump took a stand on the big issue of our day—immigration—coming out strongly in favor of securing the border and deporting illegal aliens, while the Republican leadership and the other candidates in the race for President (with maybe only one exception) talked about “immigration reform.” They don’t want to ruffle the feathers of “Latino voters;” while Trump wants to save America. Immediately, Trump jolted into the lead in the race and has stayed there ever since, in spite of being rude, bombastic, and obnoxious. By contrast, Marco Rubio, arguably the most likable guy in the pack, will never rise much above 15% in the polls because he is on the wrong side of this issue. Unless Rubio comes out and says, “to hell with the so-called Latino vote, I’m gonna deport every last one of the illegal aliens,” he will stay in the pack fighting for second or third place twenty points behind Trump.
The media pundits don’t get it, though. They offer up all kinds of explanations for Trump’s success that have nothing to do with the issue of immigration: It’s his simple sentences. It’s his rudeness and bruskness. It’s his hair. He’s an outsider. The people who support him are stupid (40% of Republicans!).
Some critics argue that Trump was a liberal Democrat until recently and we cannot trust him to keep any of his promises on immigration, or anything else. The answer to that is that lots of Republicans were elected as Tea Party candidates a few years ago, yet they ended up supporting the big-government-open-borders policies of the Obama administration once they got into office. Why should we trust anyone? Maybe all of the candidates are lying. In which case, Trump is no better or worse than the others. But, if he is telling the truth and he ends up keeping his promises, since he is the only one with a plan to reverse the illegal immigration problem, shouldn’t we put our support behind him?
Going back to the Ronald Reagan comparison, Mark Steyn noted rightly that Reagan could not get elected governor of California today. The demographics have changed so much that the state is now solidly left. America is going in the same direction. With more and more people coming into the country with different ideas about work, liberty, the rule of law, morality—it will be hard to elect anyone who is not pandering to them, promising more subsidies, more government, more corruption.
With this election the country stands at a crossroads—do we keep going in the same direction—the one leading over the cliff—or do we change direction? Many people believe Trump will lead the country in the right direction. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. But it is certain that most of the other candidates will not.