09 Nov To Win, Just Ignore Trump
If this blog were an advice column (which it is not), our mailbox this week might have contained a letter like the following:
Dear Principle Based Politics,
Your blog’s recent open letter to the political parties entitled “Next Time You Nominate Candidates…” (Nov. 5, 2021), reminded us of a problem we have with our son. (We will talk about him euphemistically here, because, although he prefers television and does not read much, he sometimes throws tantrums—despite his age—if he happens to see something he takes personally.)
You see, our son lost his job a year ago. Since then, he had to move out of our Washington, D.C. home, where we live for extended periods every four or eight years, and has been in Florida. He is very upset and, other than playing golf, spends most of his time stewing about how to get back in his old office and even trying to control who else will get positions with his former employer.
We totally agree with your letter to the political parties about choosing people with the right principles, but we don’t know what to do about our son. Sadly, we are afraid of him.
Worried in Washington D.C. and Florida,
Mr. and Mrs. R. Party
We are tempted to answer like this: “So sorry to hear about your son. A troubled and temperamental child can be very difficult for caring and responsible adults to handle—at any age—when out of work.” But…
Just. Stop. It. Enough of this cowering behind coded language! Everyone who reads your letter knows you are talking about the most recent President of the United States, Donald Trump. And we know you are the GOP, the Republican Party. Let’s get this out in the open.
We will get directly to the point of how you should handle him, and it goes all the way back to how an actual parent should react to a two-year-old who is acting out. As our mother used to whisper to the older children when the baby of the family was naughty, “I, G, N, O, R, E.” The best way to respond to fits and threats from Donald is to pretend you are unaware of his existence.
Specifically, if the former president says he will not support any Republican candidates who don’t make the so-called “stolen 2020 election” the biggest issue facing our country, do not let that sway you. Even though he threatens to undermine principled candidates in the primary elections, don’t give in to him. If he runs himself in the 2024 presidential election, simply don’t nominate him.
Why do we give this advice? Presumably you want your party to win elections, right? If you let Mr. Trump dictate who you nominate as candidates—people picked for their past loyalty to him—they are likely to lose in most states. If you make the 2020 elections and Donald J. Trump the issue in 2022 House and Senate races, it will not go well for you. All that would do is give Democrats, Independents, and even many Republicans another reason not to vote for your nominees. Remember, about 80 million people voted against Donald Trump in the last election.* We hate to be the one to tell you, but the majority of the world thinks you are crazy if you continue to espouse a platform of “Trump Made America Great Until He Got Robbed.”
*You may have nominated the only Republican in the country who could not defeat the main presidential candidates your opponent put forward in 2020, including the supposedly moderate person they chose, Joe Biden. In making your mistake, you copied the one your opponent made in 2016, when their main contenders (Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders) may have been the only two Democrats who could not have defeated Mr. Trump.
Elections are about the future, not the past. At least winning elections are.
No doubt you run some risk that Trump supporters will not show up to vote for Republicans that aren’t Trumpians themselves. We are aware he has threatened that. Nevertheless, you need to get over Trumpism and move on to the many great ideas Republicans historically have had for running America the right, principled way.
In short, Mr. and Mrs. Party, you have a golden opportunity to starting living in “your” Washington home—and to surround it with your family—if you ignore the noises coming from your son and nominate principled candidates and only principled candidates.
Quentin R. Wittrock, founder of Principle Based Politics.
Look for his posts each week, as this blog will explore and promote the idea of principle in politics, both as to individual elected leaders and our federal government as an institution.