“Donald J Trump may not be the most subtle, but he may just be like Andrew Jackson, the kind of person we need to break through and actually get the system to work again. And this, I would argue, is a much better gamble for the future than continuing with the current system, the current policies, and the current mess in Washington.” — Newt Gingrich, Munk Debate on U.S. Election
Last Friday, Munk Debates held what I thought was an exceptionally well-presented debate between Republicans Newt Gingrich and Laura Ingraham and Democrats Robert Reich and Jennifer Granholm. The above quote was just one part of what Newt and Laura so eloquently represented in front of an otherwise peaceful but adversarial Canadian audience.
I’d like to make a few points regarding their “resolution,” which — from a debate perspective — is so classical in style: “Be it resolved: Donald Trump can make America great again…”, yes or no.
First of all, this debate format (and I greatly encourage anyone to take the time to view the entire linked video) turned out to be fantastic. My recommendation to our own Commission on Presidential Debates would be to take this same format, perhaps including at least one session that includes both the presidential and vice presidential candidates on the same stage.
Secondly — and more to the point of this posting’s title — I thought that Newt and Laura continued to make a more fundamental, strategic point regarding the current American political landscape: a sufficient majority of voters are completely fed up with how things are running in Washington, D.C., and even if Donald Trump were not the GOP presidential nominee, these “fed up” trends would still be demanding to be dealt with.
While Newt specifically dealt with three general areas along these lines, I wanted to tie the trends back to the “Never Trump” phenomenon. I actually get the frame of reference from which “Never Trump” originates — the GOP has a nominee that they believe is not trustworthy, has many unknowns regarding what he’d actually do if he were to become President, has taken many stances on various issues over the years, does not have the most pristine personal life, and appears to have come to the Republican party more out of utilitarian convenience than overtly obvious conservatism — the same conservatism that’s been battling DC politics for several years.
I think my questions back to the “Never Trump” folks (however many there may be) include: where were you over the years? Why are you moving the proverbial goal posts now? Did you support the Presidents Bush? How about President Clinton? Why is it just now that — in the clearly imperfect candidate of Donald Trump — you insist that a candidate essentially be purely conservative or pure as the wind-driven snow on various issues, versus the alleged “compassionate conservatism” of W.?
As the Munk Debate clearly demonstrated, there is an obvious, palpable and measurable (by different metrics than pollsters use) aggravation within the American electorate, as just mentioned; it would be there whether Donald Trump were the candidate or not. And this aggravation has been produced by the elitism that is currently inherently presented by the overall leadership of both Republicans and Democrats. Part of it is organic, where some will follow leadership no matter the issue, and part of it is based on feeding off of what’s good for the rich and well-connected, not so much for the often looked-over middle class.
I would wager (not sure what) that Trump supporters are not locked into Donald Trump based on who he is, but quite similarly to Obama supporters, I believe his staunchest supporters project onto Trump that he will similarly bring staggering change to Washington. And the beauty of such salesmanship is the fact that, if after four years said candidate does not fulfill on some semblance of their campaign promises, they can be voted out at that point for failure to perform.
So here’s where I see some serious illogic and disjointedness on the part of a “Never Trump” believer. It’s as if they’ve saved up their passion for the ideal conservative all of this time, and since Donald Trump does not fit this bill, he must be absolutely jettisoned because, in being less than ideal, he cannot be trusted at all. I’d further wager that, should such a perspective be taken to its logical extreme in any other domain, one would either wax into wholly unsupported conspiracy theory and/or end up having an inoperable life!
I think the biggest challenge that someone such as a “Never Trump” believer has with the man is his sheer and utter uniqueness and unknown political attributes that he brings to the table. In other words, nobody really and actually knows what he would do in getting into office. Yet, at a time when the electorate says they want someone completely different in the Oval Office, essentially demanding a political unknown that you’d otherwise be randomly picking from a phone book, is he not this, exactly?
The truth is we don’t know exactly what Donald Trump would do should he become President. Yes, he has a portfolio of policy stances on his web site, and he clearly has spent the majority of his adult life working large-scale business projects throughout the world. But in all fairness, this doesn’t guarantee any future results.
He also scares many associated with the political establishment because he is a Jacksonian American and, to some, brutally so, especially in relation to foreign policy, where a Trump administration essentially promises to be a one hundred and eighty-degree change from our current posture in the world. In other words, once again, we’re so used to the current perspective of globalism on display — something that Brexit has already addressed — that we don’t recall what true nationalism would bring to America (as Newt aptly opined, it’s been well over a generation since we’ve seen pre-globalism).
Allow me to be equally brutal in push-back: A “Never Trump” individual no longer has the courage to face a reality in which American interests are paramount to our foreign posture.
America is going to change after November of 2016, and my gut says it’s not going to go the direction of the 1990s. My gut also says that the polls are not picking up the pulse of those Americans who may never even have voted before. And those who are voting inherently know that a vote for those who represent a government of the last three or four decades is a vote for the problem.