Charisma Caucus

Rather Than Bash Trump We Should Be Trying to Influence Him

Donald Trump
(Reuters photo)

Opponents of Donald Trump have raised the dark art of political hyperbole to new heights, especially when they label Trump a "hater" and equate his slogan "Make America Great Again" with racism or xenophobia. 

Jason Greenblatt, a Trump adviser and executive vice president and chief legal officer of the Trump Organization and a co-founder of put it this way:

It is easy for the media to paint a scary story of hatred and bigotry among Mr. Trump's supporters by choosing to focus their attention on the tiny minority of individuals who preach such abhorrent principles, but it is unethical and dangerous to do so. 

What many members of the public do not realize is that the media often relies on sensationalism to increase circulation and click-throughs, because telling the whole story just does not generate the audience that increases the all-important bottom line. For example, the media paid scant attention when Mr. Trump called The New York Times to unequivocally disavow statements made by David Duke, a conversation for which I was present and in which Mr. Trump said: "Anti-Semitism has no place in our society, which needs to be unified, not divided." 

Mr. Greenblatt is, as would be expected, sticking up for his employer, but he also made this point that is undoubtedly true: "The attempt by certain critics to hold Mr. Trump accountable for every ugly statement of any supporter anywhere, while holding no other candidates to the same standard, has grown tiresome." 

And it particularly tiresome from individuals and groups purporting to represent the movement conservative voter. 

In our article "Erick and Bill Have Jumped the #NeverTrump Shark" we specifically challenged our friends Erick Erickson and Bill Kristol for continuing to promote the idea that running a Third Party candidate was a viable path to achieving conservative government in this country. 

What was even more astonishing was Erickson's subsequent statement (to Katie Couric no less) that "If the Republican Party wants to go in his direction, I guess I'm not a Republican anymore. I never signed a party oath." 

All of this reminds us of a comment Mr. Erickson once made regarding the establishment Republican Capitol Hill leadership, which might be paraphrased as "what the Republican establishment was looking for was a party without voters or supporters to satisfy." 

Trump haters on the right seem to think that the battle to govern America according to conservative principles is over, and nothing could be further from the truth. 

We need only look back to 2008 to recognize that we can have vast influence over the campaign and its direction, even if we are not enthusiastic about the top of the ticket. 

CHQ Chairman Richard Viguerie recounted in his book Takeover, Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, went so far as to publicly state that he would not vote for McCain. Jim Dobson later softened his rhetoric somewhat, but he remained critical of the Arizona senator throughout the campaign. "I have seen no evidence that Sen. McCain is successfully unifying the Republican Party or drawing conservatives into his fold," Dobson said in a written statement released in May 2008. "To the contrary, he seems intent on driving them away." 

Conservatives had refused to fall in line behind the Republican Party's grudging choice of McCain as the nominee—those who maintained their independence, at the price of being ridiculed as "cranky" or "impossible to please," had made it clear that, without a strong, principled conservative on the ticket, we would vote for it— but do little else.  

Movement conservatives were subjected to some pretty harsh criticism, but as CHQ Chairman Richard Viguerie concluded in his book Takeover, conservatives were the ones responsible for John McCain's brilliant, game-changing selection of Sarah Palin.  

Those who backed John McCain as the "lesser of two evils" did no favors for themselves, their movement, or for Sen. McCain. To unite the conservative grassroots of the party, Senator McCain needed to know what conservatives really thought, and he needed to know what had to be done to get conservatives enthusiastically on board his campaign. What he had to do was pick Sarah Palin—or some other limited-government, constitutional conservative—as his vice presidential nominee.  

The conservative base of the party had been listless. But with the selection of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee, nearly all would work enthusiastically for the McCain–Palin ticket. In fact, as I traveled the country as a lead advance representative for Governor Palin, it seemed the conservative grassroots of the GOP were the most enthusiastic they had been since the era of Ronald Reagan.

The same might be said of Donald Trump's crowds and the enthusiasm his populist conservative supporters have injected into a listless Republican Party grown stale with the daily betrays from Capitol Hill. 

And in 2016, unlike John McCain in 2008, Donald Trump and his team are reaching out to conservatives. 

In a recent column for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt made this observation about the destructive hyperbole aimed at Donald Trump from both the Left and the Right:

The truth of Mr. Trump's convictions, that all Americans should have the opportunity for a better life, may not garner as many clicks as placing his photo alongside that of a hooded klansman and the Confederate battle flag, as Haaretz did a few days ago. But whenever media outlets turn voters' attention instead to the issues they truly care about—jobs, the economy and national security—Mr. Trump picks up support. 

Irresponsible language appears on the internet and elsewhere all the time, from the left and right alike—sometimes from anonymous social media users and other times from journalists out in the open. But for anyone to lead people to the conclusion that hate speech espoused by a fraction of often anonymous individuals is indicative of the environment that Mr. Trump will foster in our great country is reckless and ill-informed. When we focus on the issues voters genuinely care about, rather than on petty distractions and vendettas, we can set about the important work of Making America Great Again. 

Jason Greenblatt is most certainly right, especially as it regards organizations and individuals who purport to represent conservatives.  

Donald Trump was not your candidate or you think he is morally unfit to be president, so be it. But the battle to govern America according to conservative principles is hardly over; it has just begun. To say "I guess I'm not a Republican anymore" is to give up on those principles and throw in the towel before the Republican Party Platform is written and the candidate for Vice President is even chosen.  

But what's even worse is for "conservatives" to join the Democrats and liberal media and engage in untrue attacks on Donald Trump. Conservatism is about ideas and principles; hyping destructive over-the-top attacks on Trump as a "hater" is destructive to the principles upon which the conservative movement was founded and upon which we hope to govern this country. It's time for people truly interested in the future of this country to stop trashing Trump and start trying to influence him.

George Rasley is editor of ConservativeHQ, a member of American MENSA and a veteran of over 300 political campaigns, including every Republican presidential campaign from 1976 to 2008. He served as lead advance representative for Governor Sarah Palin in 2008 and has served as a staff member, consultant or advance representative for some of America's most recognized conservative Republican political figures, including President Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. He served in policy and communications positions on the House and Senate staff, and during the George H.W. Bush administration he served on the White House staff of Vice President Dan Quayle.

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