One thing workaday Republicans have most certainly in common is they know the only way to change things—even in little steps—is to seek and hold office. Getting elected is what matters, and while principles are what they hang in nice frames on their walls, they have to live with the realities of business competition, the price of labor, the challenges of marriage and family, and the drudgery of a political race. Yet, they put up signs, make calls, contribute, and work the polls.
Those with longer memories may remember some advice from Ronald Reagan. In Paul Kengor’s, “11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative,” he thoughtfully provides excerpts of great Reagan speeches. Reagan’s remarks at CPAC, in 1977, are on point. Kengor’s preface says, “Reagan explains what it means to be a conservative and urges conservatives not to leave the Republican Party but to work within the GOP (what Reagan called a New Republican Party) as a means to get elected and change America in a conservative direction.”
Reagan talked about, “the creation of a new, lasting majority. This will mean compromise. But not a compromise of basic principle.” He went on to say, “The American new conservative majority we represent is not based on abstract theorizing of the kind that turns off the American people, but on common sense, intelligence, reason, hard work, faith in God…”
On August 6th, when Bret Baier asked, perhaps, the most important question of the Republican debates, and Donald Trump refused—for reasons of leverage, he said—to forswear a third party run, many hearing his words could predict the immediate consequences of 2016—just as in 1912 and 1992—disaster and defeat.
Once again, it has little to do with principles or party, but everything to do with ego. A political party is about a set of principles, the objectives of which are to be sought and fought for, but it is not about a man (or a woman). Trump’s response and subsequent comments (if “they don’t treat me right” and if “they’re not fair with me”) are coded blackmail. It would be a harder choice if he was a real Republican, conservative or otherwise, but he is not an everyday Republican and never has been. In Mr. Trump’s world, his principles have been about personal greed, manipulating politicians with contributions, and belittling all who disagree. “Fair” is getting what he wants, nothing else, nothing less.
As Stephen Hayes brilliantly put it in a Weekly Standard piece, “Those who still remain Trump supporters seem to be beyond shame. It doesn’t matter that they’re angry about the incompetence in Washington. Turning to Trump to solve the problems in Washington is like turning to an ape to fix a broken refrigerator.”
Who wants Trump to run as a third party?
- The Clintons, because they have encouraged him, and Trump will give them victory.
- State Media—those klaxons of the progressive left—because Trump will help their candidate win, whether it be Clinton, Warren, or Sanders. Why else give him airtime?
- The progressive left, because Trump is the best way to further their agenda.
- Some conservatives, who would rather the ship go down if it doesn’t sail their course.
- Donald Trump, because his ego now controls his every utterance.
Many people were happy that Fox News hosted the first debates because the candidates would be treated fairly, they said. And they were. Suddenly, Fox journalists were vilified for doing their jobs well. Consider Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly, hardly members of State Media, for exposing Trump’s flaws as a Republican candidate and as a man. Complaining about State Media’s journalistic softball with the Clintons, Obama, et al, and then expecting the same for a Donald Trump is an interesting hypocrisy.
So then, Teddy Roosevelt turned out to be the real RINO in 1912, as did Ross Perot in 1992. Thoughtful, honest conservatives also consider Donald Trump a true RINO, because in serving himself, his actions serve only the opposition, and his words demean true Republicans everywhere. RINOs are also those who would throw aside a chance for the White House and an opportunity to manage down the government for someone who simply touched their anger and frustration, but has no ability to govern in a democracy. And finally, a RINO is someone who would risk all for a commercial despot who owes them nothing, who seeks not an office but another, larger throne.
Barry Goldwater said famously, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” But a self-serving ego is, indeed, an addiction. For those who think, “it’s different this time,” that’s what Ross Perot thought.
Think again—it’s always the same.