Where Do We Go From Here?

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., listens as Treasury Secretary Jack Lew defends President Barack Obama's new budget proposals, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. Rep. Ryan, who agrees with Obama on extending the earned income tax credit to more workers without children, says he hopes that lawmakers and the administration could agree on ways to finance expanding the EITC. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Donald Trump, the thin-skinned tough guy who has conned millions of Americans into supporting the folly that his candidacy has been, now poses a conundrum for GOP leaders. For most #NeverTrump individuals, myself included, it is incredibly painful to see our favorite politicians tentatively or, in some cases enthusiastically, endorse Trump.

We’ve experienced a unique election cycle during which the Republicans somehow managed to hand the nomination to a man who has promoted war crimes and failed to disavow racist organizations, voiced intent to “open up” libel laws and impose trade policies that would be detrimental to the American economy, and insulted POWs, women, minorities, and pretty much everyone else.

Since Trump announced his bid for president, he has proclaimed in victorious tones his plans to build a wall that will save Americans from Mexican rapists, disparaged John McCain’s war service record, encouraged violence at his rallies, advocated torture “even if it doesn’t work”, failed to define “nuclear triad”, and praised Vladimir Putin.

Sadly, the GOP had its fair share of opportunities to hinder his candidacy. Reince Priebus could’ve easily laughed Trump out of the race in 2015—Trump proved in debates with Rubio he can throw a fit worthy of a toddler and pout like a child when he’s laughed at but he simply cannot thoughtfully respond to criticism.

These attacks from Rubio, however, came far too late and only after constant goading from the non-Trump-ified members of the GOP grassroots. These attacks did wonders to expose the irrational foolishness of Trump’s political stint but were soon stifled by equally ridiculous claims that Rubio’s assaults were somehow more unprofessional than every preposterous thing Trump has done.

The reality is that Trump, as a novice politician and an obvious idiot has been held to a different standard for the entirety of the election cycle. Priebus, or any number of Republican party leaders, could’ve put a swift end to Trump’s run but feared the wrath of his overly-enthusiastic supporters or the loss of free media coverage or insulting his fragile character and ending up in one of his stream-of-consciousness rants on Twitter or at his rallies.

Whatever the reason, the problem of Trump was not appropriately dealt with.

And a large percentage of the GOP has drifted behind him as a result. As Thomas Paine said, “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.” Without a universally accepted, published, and preached exposé of Trump’s absurdity, his “Trump Train” has gained enough steam to acquire the nomination.

Marco Rubio’s brilliant active combat against Donald Trump came eight months too late, and the condemnation from the GOP we needed never came. The depravity of Trump’s influence has already begun to seep into the Republican Party. Perhaps Trump’s nomination is the condign punishment the conservative coalition deserves.

But for the hundreds of other Republicans up for election this year, for the governors, and other party leaders who remain un-swindled by Trump, a tough choice is presented. To endorse or not to endorse?

Several months ago George Will at the Washington Post wrote:

We are about to learn much about Republican officeholders who are now deciding whether to come to terms with Trump, and with the shattering of their party as a vessel of conservatism. Trump’s collaborators, like the remarkably plastic Chris Christie (“I don’t think [Trump’s] temperament is suited for [the presidency]”), will find that nothing will redeem the reputations they will ruin by placing their opportunism in the service of his demagogic cynicism and anticonstitutional authoritarianism.

At the moment this was true, but the situation has changed radically since. Donald Trump is undoubtedly neither conservative nor fit for office, but he is the leader chosen by the voters.

The implications of not supporting the party in 2016 not only includes running a third-party candidate who, while perhaps standing for appropriate ideals, would no doubt lose gloriously, but would also affect funding and grassroot efforts for Congressional races and controversy in future elections which may place multiple qualified conservatives in contention. Ben Sasse’s grand proposal, while alluring, is a logistical nightmare.

Whether we like it or not, the party system is fundamental in almost every facet of every election on nearly every level. Money, support, media coverage—all necessary benefits of party support. For this important reason a beseech you to not too-harshly judge your favorite elected official who suddenly supports Trump. After all, politics is a long-term game.

But Trump poses a bigger problem to the core of our conservative platform.

What party leaders need to do now, what Paul Ryan is trying to do, is to approach Trump in an attempt to help him. Whether any logical conservative likes it or not, Donald Trump is now a public face of the Republican Party.

Donald Trump’s stream of inane and constantly-changing ideology needs to be tailored to fit the party platform. As things stand, it is the duty of elected Republicans to respect the will of the people while upholding the principles that got them elected. Ryan, Rubio, Grassley and other party leaders have expressed the desire to allow Trump time to clarify his views, walk back previous statements, and enter into the party fold.

If he is willing to do so.

Ryan has expressed interesting in meeting with Trump to discuss the core ideas of Republicanism. Trump did not appreciate these exceptionally reasonable comments and lashed back on Twitter. This puts the GOP in an interesting predicament. How do you help someone who isn’t willing to talk to you?

Many Republican politicians have painfully admitted they will indeed be voting Trump in November. Although we as #NeverTrump may be inclined to condemn as Mr. Will suggested above, especially against well-respected individuals like Rick Perry who seem overly-enthusiastic in their sponsorship, we may be misjudging their intent. It is disgustingly discouraging to see positive remarks about Trump, but we also know that Donald Trump is a bully. He’s not an easy person to talk to and impossible to have a sensible conversation with—especially if he’d rather be roasting that person on Twitter. Kind words to Donald Trump may be the bridge the GOP needs to coax him to conservatism.

Personally, I’d love to see a reasonable conservative like Rick Perry as Trump’s Vice President. Not because I want Perry to pander to the con-man we’ve nominated, but because the one thing Trump really needs is a rational, respected, knowledgeable conservative at his side telling him what to say and do.

We’ve seen after every debate and interview Trump changing his position entirely on matters after he’s talked to his advisors. Trump is really just a puppet repeating other people’s ideas—he’s certainly not smart enough to run a campaign, never mind a country, on his own. What the GOP needs now is the right person feeding Trump his words. Rick Perry would be ideal.

Reince and other Republican leaders need to work together to corner the terror we’ve unleashed this election and train him into at least a puppet of a suitable candidate. My expectations for this endeavor are low but I have great respect for conservative leaders who are trying to tame this beast. As Donald Trump’s favorite Russian dictator says, “Everything will probably never be okay, but we have to try for it.”

About the Author

Natalie Fraehlich
Natalie is a pragmatic Progressive Conservative from Iowa. She works in communications and politics as a Republican staffer, campaign consultant, and supporter of bi-partisan progress. Her preferred pastimes include travel, music, and art. Natalie's major influences include Thomas Paine, George Washington, and George Will.