I’ve mostly lost track of the various politicians and media personalities who have thrown up their hands in despair over the nomination of Donald Trump and declared that they are leaving the party because they can no longer in good conscience be associated with such a hive of scum and villainy. George Will did it a while back, and most recently Sally Bradshaw joined the club. Of course, the more polite ones always seem to couch their resignation letters with some kind words for those who refuse to knuckle under to the perceived inevitability of a President Hillary Clinton. These usually include some compassionate comments about how you should be free to follow your own conscience, even if it’s a shame that you don’t have the same conservative values and principles that they do.
This trend seems to have gotten under the skin of my friend Matt Lewis. At Roll Call, he offers a beseeching letter to those who are abandoning ship to not be so hasty. It’s not because he wants them to vote for Mr. Trump, of course, but rather because we’ll need some strong conservatives to pick up the pieces once The Donald finishes demolishing the GOP.
Besides, fleeing the party is a tacit concession that this is now Trump’s party. It isn’t. You don’t abandon your house the first time a houseguest overstays his welcome (unless you’re Dennis Wilson, and that houseguest is Charles Manson — but that’s a different story). Trump’s attempt at a hostile takeover isn’t complete.
Trump could lose in November, and the base could then come to its senses. If that happens, Republican voters might finally have to have a “Come to Jesus” meeting.
If Trumpism turns out to be a bubble, then that means voters might start looking around for Republican leaders who can help lead them out of the wilderness when it finally bursts.
I’ll leave you to read the whole thing as the saying goes and offer a few brief thoughts in response.
The short version for those of you who choose to leave comes with both some medicine and some sugar to help it go down. First of all, don’t let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you on the way out. But second, don’t let anyone (including me if you take it that way) get you down over it. You see, it doesn’t really matter. Heck, I’ve been registered as both a Republican and an independent at various times in my life myself. The number of people who are technically registered Republicans in the nation at any one time is an irrelevant figure outside of media circles. The only ones you’ll be doing any harm to are the pollsters and the cable news spokesmodels and they could all probably use a good tweak now and again anyway. All that really matters is who you wind up voting for, and if you are a conservative at heart those votes over the hopefully long arc of your life will add up to plenty of good work being done. Be of good cheer. Yes, if you actually go so far as voting for Hillary Clinton this November instead of sitting it out or going third party, I’m fairly sure you’ll wind up burning in a lake of fire after you die, but the rest of us up here on the material plane will forgive you eventually.
The only other point I would make in response to Matt is that the Republican Party (or the Democrats for that matter) is not an animal which can be bled out by any one candidate or any group of people throwing a fit and burning their registration cards. A party can die a slow death if so many people leave that they are no longer relevant in elections at any level, but that’s not happening. In order for that particular death sentence to be carried out, those people would need a place to go. And at least for now, that doesn’t exist.
All of the individual registered members are simply blood cells in the vastly larger beast, and whether it’s the party’s nominee for the presidency, a high profile pundit or the guy on the bar stool next to you, no one blood cell brings the beast down. Donald Trump is incapable of destroying or even fundamentally changing the definition of the Republican Party. But what seems to be lost in this blizzard of opinions is that the same goes for the rest of us. No single one of us, nor even any group of writers from a prestigious Right leaning magazine or think tank define the GOP. Nor do they define conservatism. The definition of these larger concepts, much like the beast, is arrived at by averaging out all of those blood cells pumping through the system.
People can leave the party if they want. They can come back or new voters can join. New “leaders” will spring up, not in response to some desperate cry from the aggrieved, but from the consensus of those who make up the larger body as time goes by. This is not only not a time to panic or beg people not to leave, but it’s instead a time to be sanguine. The battle continues. Some soldiers may leave the field but the armies march on. And nothing we say, do, or write in our columns changes that fact.