Are we sure we want to go forward with Trump?
Is four more years of this really what we want?
Don’t get me wrong. I have been a Trump supporter since the morning of the Iowa caucus. I cheered at his election. I stood in the cold at his inauguration. I have been grateful for so much that he has done.
But there is a Trump fatigue, a fraying of nerve as he jumps from one miscue to the next, one unnecessary distraction to another, one reason to doubt his ability to the next.
From a policy standpoint, the nation is undeniably better because of the Trump presidency. From a social fabric standpoint, it is demonstrably worse.
And as the nation begins another presidential election cycle, I think the Republican Party should make sure Trump is the road it wants to go down. The GOP needs to honestly ask itself if the pleasure and pain ratio is acceptable, or if another candidate might not be able to take us to the same policy place with a lot less national stress.
Yes, I understand that progressives in politics and the press are engaged in a slow-motion coup, a years-long refusal to accept the results of the 2016 election. I know that Trump can’t catch a break, that the news media has worked around the clock to tear him down and obstruct his agenda. I recognize that he is facing off against people who hate not only him and his supporters, but the United States as well.
All those things are true.
But they were also largely true for George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. Opposition for opposition’s sake is the normal procedure of the Democratic Party. It is a disappointment, and a hindrance, but presidents have dealt with it in the past.
And Trump is not dealing with it now. He is fueling it, getting wrapped up in it, giving his opponents near-daily opportunities to attack him and his followers.
From his tweeting to his lying, the exaggerations and apparent delusions. The rash decisions and failure to use a staff and cabinet of his own creation. The ongoing obligation of supporters to find some excuse to explain his actions and words.
The persistent fear that, if the chips were down, this guy wouldn’t have what it takes, that wars or crises could be started or lost because he’s a train wreck.
After a while, blaming it on “fake news” or saying he’s “draining the swamp” doesn’t quite get it.
Maybe he’s not the smartest guy in the room, maybe he’s not playing four-dimensional chess, maybe he’s just a dumb blowhard.
And maybe before we take this ship to sea again, we ought to look at what else is in the harbor.
Because the Republican Party is not short on capable candidates who could both win the election and lead the nation.
Nikki Haley, Marco Rubio, some of the folks Trump has chased out to the White House. They all would be capable. They all would advance constitutional values, they all would get the job done, and they would do it with a lot less national stress and embarrassment than we get from Trump.
And they would win.
Not by polarizing, but by appealing. Not by some cult of personality, but by offering America the Republican priorities that the nation truly needs.
On the Democratic side, they have amassed a flock of dolts, a group of people singularly impressive for their complete lack of connection to reality. They have staked out a battlefront so far to the left of their own core constituency that their only chance for electoral victory is the anti-Trump vote. A competent, calm, non-insane moderate Republican beats any and all of them.
And America could return to normal.
A normal in which there are issues other than the president, where each day doesn’t bring the anxiety of, “What is he going to say today?”
Trump has done much good. He rolled back significant government overreach through executive orders. Where the Congress would support him, he has legislated wisely, with tax reform being a tremendous boon for America. He has made good Supreme Court nominations, and he stopped the federal war on police. He has reminded us that a president can love America, and that we should love it to.
Republicans were wise to elect him, and they and the country have gotten a worthwhile return on their electoral investment.
But it has come at a price we don’t need to pay.
Not when another candidate and another Republican president could bring all of the good and a lot less of the bad.
The Republican Party should decide now whether or not it wants to advance another candidate. Before all chance of primary or caucus choice is shut off, there should be some thinking. And maybe some polling.
Because, yes, Trump will win if he runs. But the purpose of politics is not just to win, but to govern.
And the Republican Party should make certain that its 2020 candidate can do both.