By D. Allan Kerr
New Hampshire primary voters have a history of stubborn, sometimes unexpected independence.
Lyndon Johnson learned this in 1968, when a strong showing by insurgent fellow Democrat Eugene McCarthy convinced him to not run for re-election.
George H.W. Bush learned it in 1992, when Pat Buchanan’s surprisingly high numbers demonstrated the depth of Bush’s rift with conservative Republicans.
“I understand the message of dissatisfaction,” Bush said at the time.
Now Donald Trump, who spent much of his 2016 campaign complaining about a “rigged system,” is trying to ensure there’s zero dissension in this year’s primary process.
At least four states – South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Kansas – have decided to cancel their GOP presidential primaries or caucuses in 2020.
Republican voters in the Granite State will not be denied this opportunity on Feb. 11. And they can send Trump a loud message that day.
There are genuine conservatives within the GOP concerned with the country’s record-threatening, trillion-dollar budget deficit and waning global influence.
Other pro-military Republicans are offended by Trump’s attacks on the records of war heroes, his tendency to use troops as toy soldiers on parade, and his apparently random use of force. Still others who cherish their Christian ideals question his emphatically un-Christian behavior and policies.
Next month, Trump’s name will appear on the New Hampshire primary ballot alongside former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh, along with many other lesser-known individuals. None pose a serious threat to Trump.
But if there’s ever been a moment to get the attention of a politician running amok, so arrogant he ignores the advice of everyone who doesn’t appease him, then Feb. 11 is this moment.
Republicans can speak bigly without saying a single word – they just have to check off the name of any other candidate.
The genius of such an action is if GOP voters want Trump to be their president because they can’t bring themselves to vote Democratic, but they want to send a message, they can vote for someone else knowing he will still win.
Unless something really crazy happens – crazier than what’s considered normal now, at least – Donald Trump is going to win the Republican nomination.
What I’m proposing for New Hampshire Republicans isn’t a “Stop Trump” movement – it’s more of a “Shut Up for a Minute and Listen!” movement. In the end, it might actually help him in the general election.
To date, the guy has inoculated himself against honest critique.
The impressive cadre of retired generals he brought in at the start of his term are all gone now, replaced by rampant sycophants. His primary engagement with voters is thru the public lovefests he schedules whenever things get rough at the office. Folks who voice disagreement at these rallies are quickly escorted out.
The problem is, he’s only engaging with roughly 40% of voters according to most polls, when he’s supposed to be the president of all Americans.
Next month, moderate Republicans can choose in Weld a candidate more closely aligned with their positions. He boasts of cutting taxes 21 times as a Republican governor of liberal Massachusetts, reformed the welfare system and was designated the country’s most fiscally conservative governor – but he’s also pro-choice and was an early champion of LGBT rights.
Those who lean harder to the right have in Walsh a candidate who’s actually more conservative than Trump, and has a similar history of blunt and explosive rhetoric. Walsh, a Tea Party congressman-turned-firebrand radio host, was a staunch supporter until the infamous Helsinki news conference when Trump publicly buckled in the presence of Vladimir Putin.
“When the President of the United States stood in front of the world and said ‘I stand with that guy and not my own people,’ that’s disloyal. That’s unAmerican,” Walsh said when announcing his candidacy.
Trump has never been who he wants you to think.
This is why he’s terrified of releasing his tax returns, his academic records, his medical history, and documents related to multiple scandals. He’s not a self-made, rags-to-riches success story. He never gave a rat’s behind about people with less than seven-figure incomes – until he needed their vote.
Donald Trump is a used car salesman who wants you to think he’s Henry Ford.
The recent Christianity Today editorial which rocked the evangelical community – and the Republican Party – underscored a key point many Trump supporters want to overlook.
By condoning Trump without question or censure, right-wing evangelicals who decried the immorality of Bill Clinton prove they never really cared about Clinton’s behavior – they just opposed his politics.
Likewise, self-proclaimed conservatives who preach about fiscal responsibility have shown they genuinely don’t care about the national debt. As Walsh himself notes on his website, Trump promised he would that out in eight years “but he’s on track to contribute more than $4 trillion to the national debt. This is not just unacceptable, it’s unsustainable.”
Both of these groups have lost credibility with mainstream Americans by embracing Trump’s more egregious behaviors for the sake of shared policy beliefs. And by surrounding himself with yaysayers, Trump isn’t being counseled when he risks alienating voters he may need come November.
Come February, this would-be emperor should be reminded he’s not infallible.
D. Allan Kerr wonders where the brave souls of the Republican Party have gone.
(Jan. 11, 2020)
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