Unite, Even Forgive, but Never Forget
In the wake of Donald Trump's election as our next President, much has been made of the GOP's need to unite. I agree with this sentiment. However, I humbly suggest to those Republicans, including Trump who led the successful campaign to retake our country, that while we must unite and even forgive our wayward rank-and-file GOP brethren who chose not to support our efforts, we must never forget those who engaged in outright acts of treachery that jeopardized our cause and our nation's future.
First, I must make clear I am not referring to every Republican who made a personal decision not to support Trump. I am sure that there are registered voters in every election cycle who quietly choose, for personal reasons, not to support their party's nominee. As American voters, we must all act according to the dictates of our consciences.
Rather, I am referring to those Republicans who had such a vested interest (emotional, financial, or otherwise) in maintaining the status quo, maintaining the same stale policies that had long served their personal and business interests at the expense of the Republican electorate and their country, that they poured significant time and energy into derailing the GOP nominee and thwarting the will of the Republican voters who supported him.
We must not forget Jamie Weinstein, a "conservative" editor at Dailycaller.com who advocated a "negotiated Republican surrender" to Hillary Clinton. Weinstein went so far as to publicly urge his fellow Republicans to vote Democrat.
We must not forget Jonah Goldberg, Kevin D. Williamson, and the majority of contributors and editors at the National Review, which posted multiple anti-Trump articles on a daily basis, even dedicating one entire issue to attacking Trump. Williamson became so unhinged at one point that he characterized white-working class communities that supported Trump as "morally indefensible" and wrong to blame their troubles on our nation's illegal immigration problem and policies that have proven harmful to the working class. In Williams's judgment, these white working-class communities had "failed themselves" and "deserve to die."
Following Trump's victory, and a catastrophic loss of subscribers, the National Review has since tempered its message. The staff continue to attack Trump, but now they take the occasional break to give our president-elect "sound conservative advice." Namely, they have advised Trump to abandon the positions that got him elected, to appoint the same stale establishment GOP figures who have repeatedly failed to stand up to Obama for eight years, and to adopt the same stale establishment policies that cost us the White House in 2008.
But National Review has nothing on Bill Kristol and his Weekly Standard. Kristol didn't just criticize Trump or write scathing articles attacking the campaign; Kristol orchestrated a massive search for a third-party candidate to run in the general election. He met with prospective candidates and even tried to line up financial backing for a third-party run. Kristol acknowledged that this third-party candidate had no realistic chance to win but expressed the hope that the candidate would take enough votes away from Trump to keep him from getting elected.
Ultimately, the only candidate to answer Kristol's call was Evan McMullin, a heretofore unknown former CIA operative who had also spent time working in an administrative position within the House of Representatives (i.e., he was a government bureaucrat). It was while working in Congress that he admittedly first came to one of the most important revelations of his life: that the GOP is racist! McMullin later explained that "there is a serious problem of racism in the Republican Party," when asked why Donald Trump had managed to win the GOP's nomination.
McMullin, a Mormon, concentrated his efforts in Utah, hoping to prevent Trump from winning delegates from the traditionally dependable red state. Fortunately, Republican voters rejected Kristol's and McMullin's efforts to sabotage the GOP. McMullin now spends most of his time slinging insults at GOP voters on Twitter and weaving bizarre theories about Trump being a Manchurian candidate for Russia.
We must not forget George Will, the "conservative" writer who threw a public tantrum and left the GOP when Trump won the nomination. Thereafter, he spent his time contributing anti-Trump pieces to the National Review and Washington Post, as well as periodically appearing on Fox News to trumpet the death of the Trump campaign and offer a snide eulogy. On the morning after Trump's election, Will characterized it as "a ruinous triumph for the GOP." Nevertheless, the election results have not prevented "Often Wrong" Will from subsequently offering a steady stream of unsolicited advice to President-Elect Trump.
We must not forget Mitt Romney. Romney did not simply decline to publicly support Trump. Romney did not simply decline to vote for Trump. Romney did not simply critique some of Trump's positions. Romney met privately with moneyed interests to trash Trump, while publicly declaring that Trump's election would be the worst result imaginable to the media and conservative groups. Romney predicted that our economy would "sink into a prolonged recession" if Trump were elected. Romney fretted over Trump's "dangerous" talk about enforcing our borders and putting a stop to the importation of refugees without an effective vetting process. Romney also frequently repeated false narratives pushed by the progressive media in a clumsy effort to embarrass or undermine the Trump campaign, all the while referring to Trump as a "phony" and a "fraud." Post-election, Romney has executed an awkward 180-degree turn, obsequiously praising Trump as part of an all too transparent effort to reap a political handout.
All of the aforementioned "conservatives" (as well as scores more I do not have enough space to properly discuss – e.g., John Kasich, who threw a tantrum and refused to attend the GOP Convention being held in his own state) were all vociferous in their criticism of Trump. Yet they never seemed to find their voices when the topic came around to the Supreme Court and the reality that the next president would very likely choose two, and perhaps as many as four, of the next justices. They never seemed to acknowledge the potential long-term consequences of their actions to the Republican electorate and the country at large should the Supreme Court swing violently to the left. Nor did they seem to be all that interested in discussing the multiple allegations of corruption and illegal conduct that encircled Hillary Clinton and her tight-knit group of devotees like buzzards throughout the campaign. Is it perhaps because a careless, corrupt, and inept Clinton presidency would not have threatened their sensibilities, nor their professional security, nearly as much as a Trump presidency might?
Unite the GOP? Good idea. We should unite to most effectively move forward and capitalize on our recent gains. Forgive? I am willing to welcome rank-and-file Republicans back into the fold. Forget? No. We should never forget the transgressions perpetrated by the leadership of the "NeverTrump" movement. To forget these transgressions is to forget why this revolt of the electorate was necessary. It means forgetting who really will have our back when we face fire from the left and who will have our back only as long as it is professionally and personally expedient to do so. It means forgetting that there are entrenched interests in Washington who do not have our best interests at heart, and are happy to accept our support and vote as long as they know they won't actually be held accountable when they disregard our concerns and wishes.
Elephants do not forget.