Twenty-two writers at the National Review, countless evangelical leaders around the country, and much of the contingent of people supporting Ted Cruz’s candidacy have created the situation where Donald J. Trump may well sit behind the desk in the Oval Office a year from now.
That opening sentence above may seem harsh — but it’s the truth. Republicans, conservatives, and Christians have failed to adequately fight the political information war since Ronald Reagan left office — that is the reason Trump leads in the polls.
The meltdown taking place among my friends, allies, and writers I respect is disappointing, but completely understandable. A line from another Donald (Rumsfeld) applies here. These smart and committed people (that I agree with on almost everything by the way) don’t know what they don’t know. And so their heads are exploding about a possible Trump victory.
What they don’t understand is this election is not about Trump, it is about their failures.
Some think this election is about conservatism. It is not. What most Americans know about conservative principles is what they have learned through the liberal K-college schools, heard through pop culture, or bumped up against through the dominant liberal old and new media.
This election is also not about the Republican Party. Everyone knows that the GOP “brand” continues to suffer under the ongoing failures of its leaders. Voters have given the party chance after chance. There is no clearer example than the fact that for the last five years a Republican-controlled U.S. House has failed to use its massive bully pulpit potential to hold up a standard and move public opinion en masse in the right direction.
This election is about $20 trillion in debt, hundreds of trillions in unfunded liabilities at the state and local level, and dozen’s of major policy areas where Republicans still fail to effectively communicate the solutions that exist that are in line with their party’s platform.
This election is also about credibility and competence. Since Republicans, conservatives, and evangelicals have failed in the information war, Donald Trump is taking the nation to school like leaders are supposed to — like they have failed to do since The Great Communicator retired.
Scores of people don’t like Trump’s history or his behavior or his choice of words — so they are tapping previously untapped personal energy reserves in an attempt to destroy him.
What they should have been doing with all that energy for the past several decades is opening schools, buying news networks, and writing fiction for TV and movies. Then maybe we would not have so many low information voters or two terms of Barack Obama.
The National Review’s “gang of 22” and most of the rest of the rabid Trump critics have failed to engage in mass communication. Why aren’t there Rush Limbaugh-like giants playing on every field? There should be dozens of them in every state and on every issue accomplishing task number one — which is to win the debate in the public square and change minds.
I’ve been writing about our side’s abject failure in the information war for many years, as well as the sad fact that few conservatives or Christians even seem to be aware that politics is not a spectator sport. We all have a duty to engage in grassroots and party politics.
Despite what the typical National Review writer might think, grassroots and party politics is not a lower level of politics any more than the foundation of a building is less important because it touches the ground.
I am a Republican, a conservative, and a Christian. But after decades of work at ground level I see what most people can’t from 30,000 feet, or from the couch watching the Fox News Channel like they watch the National Football League.
Most people are not hearing what conservatives would do about the debt. Or healthcare. Or foreign policy. Or anything else. They’re not. They’re really not. I am very sorry to bring such terrible news to any who are blind to that reality.
Republicans have not had a policy success since Newt Gingrich was Speaker. And over the past twenty years the GOP infrastructure has dwindled down to pro forma nothingness.
So in 2016, Republicans, Independents, and many Democrats and yes, even Christians like the great Phyllis Schlafly, are turning to Donald Trump to shake things up. Is he a flawed vessel? Of course. But here’s the thing: he also knows how to get things done. And in light of the political right’s failure, people see the ability to get things done as a very good place to start.
Getting what done? Of course that’s the key question. If Trump gets the GOP nomination and wins the White House, my greatest hope is that political conservatives and my fellow Christians will have the largest possible influence on the direction of a Trump presidency.
Then, and only then, will we have a decent chance to “make the country great again.”