Ignorance can be fixed with patient explanation and information. Prejudice can be sifted through if both parties can find some middle ground. Self-delusion, on the other hand, has no cure. For example, there is a sentiment permeating through the Republican ranks that Donald Trump represents the conservative grassroots. Many establishment folks (read, experienced in Republican Politics) view Donald Trump as the inevitable result of turning over too much of the party to a minority of uncompromising and utterly ineffective activists. Meanwhile, conservative activists are watching the Republican Convention in horror as they witness a new unity coalition between what they view as Donald Trump’s populists and the Republican Party elites. What is absolutely clear, however, is that Donald Trump does not represent the conservative grassroots.
What we’ve witnessed in 2016 is a profound ideological rift within the grassroots activist crowd pitting progressive populists against social and fiscal conservatives. So when Trump Lieutenant and Virginia Campaign Chair, Corey Stewart, remarks to the The Virginian-Pilot that, “The power has shifted from establishment figures and establishment Republican politicians to the grassroots, which Trump really represents and leads“, we can rest assured that we are not dealing with ignorance or prejudice, but self-delusion. As a member of the grassroots and with hundreds of friends and allies in the grassroots, I can positively attest that Donald Trump neither represents nor leads our efforts.
This week at the Republican National Convention, Virginia staple and conservative icon Morton Blackwell introduced a series of reforms aimed at wresting power away from the establishment and opening the door to greater cooperation between the RNC and the grassroots who do so much of the groundwork required to elect Republicans. It didn’t take an hour in Cleveland before Donald Trump’s supporters were shaking hands and making backroom deals with Reince Priebus and the RNC to kill Morton Blackwell’s conservative reforms.
In the same interview with The Virginian-Pilot, Corey Stewart explained. “Although there will be no floor fight with regard to the nominee, this convention does mark a watershed moment, I believe, where the grassroots has taken back control of the party away from the elites“. While I have no doubt that Mr. Stewart actually believes this is true, it is yet another clear example of severe self-delusion. The grassroots haven’t taken power away from the elites. They went before those very elites with a moderately strong hand and requested their cooperation. All Corey Stewart and Donald Trump’s people had to give up were their conservative principles and any opposition to the authority of Reince Priebus and the RNC. Only the self-deluded can engage in this kind of behavior and then claim to have taken anything from anyone.
While I could not support any attempt to steal the nomination from Mr. Trump at the National Convention, I cannot understand how our friends in the populist crowd could sell us out so unanimously. There was no remorse, no guilt, and no shame in their actions. They celebrated their victory against Morton Blackwell’s reforms across social media. Tomorrow they will be calling for “party unity”. How can that happen now?
We must defeat Hillary Clinton’s bid to become the next President of the United States of America and that means doing everything we can to elect Donald Trump. I will do everything in my power to ensure that my county goes heavily for Trump in November, helping Trump supporters (many of whom are new to politics and the Republican Party) organize for and support their candidate. I would hope that Republicans from other factions within the party would do the same for a candidate I supported, even if they were less than excited to do so.
I do believe that every member of the Republican Party should be working hard to elect Donald Trump. I do not believe that members of the Republican Party who actively work against Donald Trump should remain in their committees, simply because they can no longer advocate for future candidates without an obvious degree of hypocrisy. This hypocrisy is likely to cause drama and infighting which we simply do not need in our local committees.
Beyond that, however, the self-delusion of many of Donald Trump’s most prominent supporters will continue to gnaw at the wounds and divisions left from such a contentious primary battle. Any attempt made by Donald Trump or his supporters to speak for me or the conservatives grassroots must be quickly and definitively shot down in order to preserve the true image of the conservative movement in America. We are for free trade, oppose corporate subsidies, do not support aggressive tax increases against the rich, oppose higher tariffs, and we most certainly do not support subjugating the 1st amendment rights of journalists. These are but a small number of examples where conservatives disagree with Donald Trump and his populists.
We have no choice, moving forward, but to publically address and deal with any claims Donald Trump or his surrogates make related to conservativism or the grassroots. While we all need to come together to elect our entire Republican Ticket, we must preserve the meaning and “shield” of the conservative movement at all costs.