April 15, 2011

GOP versus the Tea Party versus the GOP

Donald Trump has caused a miniature firestorm on conservative blogs, from the big ones to the small ones, everyone on the right has an opinion. I'm sure those on the left have been talking about it a lot too although in an entirely different context. That's not important - Trump is not flirting with running as a Democrat, he's thinking of running as a Republican. That means it's the business of conservatives and Republicans right now. People have been pretty vocal. That's good - debate is a great thing and unlike many on the left, we encourage internal debate because debate and competition we believe, are healthy things. But it seems to me the debate has gone off on some weird tangent concerning Trump's positive or negative impact on conservatism and the Republican party.

Specifically, the debate that started out as he's got guts and says what he thinks versus he says a lot of stupid stuff, has turned into an us versus them rift.  Alright, it's not a full on rift, but the Tea Party versus the GOP mentality seems to have taken hold. It's almost Palinesque.  No doubt Palin was treated almost as poorly by the GOP establishment as by the liberal propaganda machine.  Just like Christine O'Donnell.  Just like Reagan for that matter, though he weathered it better than anybody.  The argument about the Trump candidacy however, seems needlessly to be about us versus them.  Trump has flip-flopped.  So have others.  Trump has said some stupid things - so have others.  Trump has said some great things.  So have others.

Conservatives who normally want to eschew vitriol and embrace debate on ideas, seem uncharacteristically emotional about a Trump presidential run.  That bodes both well and ill for him.  But that isn't my point.  My point is about the Tea Party versus GOP establishment, the 'us versus them' mentality. A lot of Trump support seems to be an anti-RINO, give-me-anybody-with-guts anger.   I am no party insider, and I'm certainly no fan of RINOs.  I do firmly believe that a GOP without RINOs is a better GOP. I don't want a RINO president.  I did not back McCain willingly, only because I knew the disaster the Obama presidency would become.  But, and there's a big BUT;
  • A RINO president with a conservative Senate and Congress will achieve more conservative agenda items than with BO as president.
  • A RINO president could set the stage for more conservative gains in other areas in future elections
  • Trump is not the only non-RINO in this potential GOP field
  • A split conservative vote and another Obama term would be disastrous for the nation and the western world
  • Most importantly people in the US vs THEM camp must remember, the GOP establishment may not be to your liking but the GOP is a political party and the establishment are only the establishment because voters (you) allow them to be.  If weeding out RINOs is the only objective then an election to replace Michael Steele was more important than who the next President might be.  I'm pretty sure there are more objectives than just a purge.  The GOP will be re-conservatized over time.  Wars aren't won in a day. 
I'm not suggesting that a Trump candidacy is bad, just that it has broader implications.  I'm not suggesting a RINO president is a good thing.  It's not, it's a bad thing.  But there are worse possibilities.

As for Trump, his candidacy and possible nomination should hinge on only two questions. (1) Is he a real conservative? and (2) Can he win?  That's all. I don't think at this point anyone has anything more than opinions on either point.

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