The Republican establishment has made it extremely clear that they are completely unwilling to accept the current 2016 Republican presidential ticket front runner Donald Trump as their candidate and the face of the party. 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has recently been one of the loudest opposition voices delivering a scathing rebuke of Trump’s candidacy where he denounced the billionaire business man as a “a phony and a fraud” with “domestic policies which would lead to recession” and “foreign policies which would make the world less safe. ” Romney also described Trump as having “neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president” and “personal qualities” which would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.” These were somewhat harsh words given that Romney had actively courted and obtained an endorsement from Trump for Romney 2012.
Romney delivered his public denunciation of Trump on Thursday March 3, two days after Trump walked away with the lion’s share of the states on Super Tuesday, losing only Texas and Oklahoma to Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Minnesota to Florida Senator Marco Rubio. March 3 was also the same day as both the Fox News Republican Presidential Primary Debate in Detroit and day one of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the largest annual gathering of conservatives, which was taking place just outside of Washington, DC.
All of the current presidential candidates were scheduled to speak at CPAC. Interestingly enough, the CPAC organizers scheduled all of the other candidates Cruz, Rubio, Ohio Governor John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson for Friday afternoon and scheduled Trump for Saturday morning. Apparently, even CPAC viewed Trump as the headliner. On Friday afternoon, the Trump campaign announced that Trump was canceling his appearance at CPAC so that the candidate could devote the time to last minute campaigning for the Kansas Primary which was also taking place on Saturday. However, insiders say that the Trump campaign decided to skip CPAC because they heard that anti-Trump protests were likely at the event. Their instincts were probably correct given that the CPAC Straw Poll results had Trump in third place.
The anti-Trump movement within the conservative establishment clearly demonstrates that the party is focused on political ideology versus a practical solution for the present day needs of our country. During an interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh created a parallel between Mitt Romney’ s attack on Donald Trump’s candidacy and Romney’s father George Romney’s attack on Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater during the 1964 Republican Presidential Primary. George Romney was the 43rd Governor of Michigan and later served as the US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. According to Limbaugh “The Republican Elite” are rejecting Trump just as they rejected Goldwater in 1964, where Goldwater was labeled a “crazy extremist” because they are “terrified of losing control of the party.”
Senator Goldwater is also well known for having published under his name The Conscience of Conservative in 1960. Ghost written by Goldwater’s former speech writer L. Brent Bozell Jr., who was the brother-in-law of William F. Buckley, the founder of the National Review, The Conscience of a Conservative is credited with sparking new energy for the American conservative movement and creating the framework for the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s. Fifty-six years later, it is apparent that the conservative party has lost its way from the principles outlined in the “conservative Bible”. According to The Conscience of a Conservative, “Only a philosophy that takes into account the essential differences between men, and, accordingly, makes provision for developing the different potentialities of each man can claim to be in accord with Nature.”
If you apply this framework to the candidacy of Donald Trump, one of the reasons why his candidacy is so powerful is because it is based on his individual potential to create new growth opportunities for America, which is supported by his past track record as a business man. In essence, Trump brings to the ticket a unique competency which would be beneficial to the country. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of a party which says that is grounded in conservative principles to recognize and optimize the unique potential of individual candidates, elected officials and other participants in the political process.
The Conscience of a Conservative also made the statement that man “cannot be economically free, or even economically efficient, if he is enslaved politically.” Again, if we say that Trump is not the right candidate because he is not a disciple of the traditional conservative principles, the party is closing themselves off from “economic freedom and efficiency” because they are putting ideology before practicality. Ironically, putting ideology before practicality is at odds with conservatism. Goldwater’s book also describes the “conscience of a conservative” as “pricked by anyone who would debase the dignity of the individual human being.” In reading this sentence, the first response would be to say that Trump has been extremely guilty of debasing other candidates with his comments such as calling Cruz “a liar”, Rubio a “chokehold artist”, Jeb Bush “low energy” etc. And that point is valid. However, in rejecting the front runner candidate by ignoring the poll numbers and trying to paint him as a “dangerous” choice to lead the country, the Republican establishment is also “debasing the dignity of an individual human being.” Once again, this behavior is at odds with conservatism.
So where do we go from here? As of this writing, Donald Trump is still the front runner in the GOP race. However, the gap between Trump and the nearest competitor Ted Cruz has narrowed with Trump holding 384 delegates and Cruz holding 300 delegates. While anything can happen particularly in a campaign that has been as unusual as this one, the greatest likelihood is an ultimate showdown between Trump and Cruz. Even Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has acknowledged that it is highly unlikely that the nomination process will go to a brokered convention.
Given the likely trajectory of the 2016 GOP primary race, the Republican Party needs to wake up and focus on the needs of the country. They need to stop the infighting and come together. They cannot continue to put ideology before practicality. Tarring and feathering Donald Trump serves no purpose. We need to let the process and the people choose the best candidate to go against Hillary Clinton in the general election. That’s the way to continue the conservative legacy.