What an interesting position I find myself in. I uninvited Donald Trump from the RedState Gathering and spent nearly a month unable to let my kids check our mailbox at home for fear of them finding God knows what.
And while I agree with my friend Russell Moore on the merits of Donald Trump’s proposal to bar muslims from entering the United States, including muslim America citizens currently outside the country, I feel compelled to defend Donald Trump from the reaction to his proposal by many of my other friends.
The rush to condemn Donald Trump feels more like a “finally we can take him out” surge than a serious consideration of his proposal. You may very well find his proposal unserious, but there are a few million Americans who do not. They are not laboring under distinctions of constitutionalism and values. They see an American President willing to curtail the second amendment without due process and have responded in kind.
For the entirety of the 2016 election season so far, Donald Trump has given voice to a growing segment of the American population who feels completely ignored by Washington politicians of both parties and who think the country is deteriorating with both the knowledge and consent of Washington politicians from both parties. The only reason issues like immigration are being discussed right now is because Trump forced them to be discussed.
So Trump comes up with a proposal that is, at least in part, clearly unconstitutional (the part about US citizens abroad) and instead of offering other constructive policy proposals, most of the rest of the Republican field, Republican pundits, and other talking heads responded immediately with “Trump is a fascist idiot.” Along the way, Trump signals a recognition of a core issue in this campaign season, i.e. a sovereign nation should get to decide who can and cannot enter its territory.
Trump is brilliantly smart here from a short term political perspective. He just forced almost all of the GOP field to side with both Barack Obama and MSNBC. The other Republicans could have critiqued Trump’s proposal by offering a counter proposal, but instead they all went right to attacking Trump himself. As we have seen thus far, these attacks are interpreted by at least a quarter of the GOP base as attacks on them because Trump is offering policy proposals and is countered not by other proposals, but by attacks.
Beat Trump by treating him like a candidate. Challenge his proposals. Attacking Trump for being unhinged, an idiot, or some other personal attack is just read as an attack on his voters. Twenty-four hours after Barack Obama gave one of the stupidest speeches ever to be given from the Oval Office — a speech that did not reassure anyone — Donald Trump opened negotiations on a different position and he started with “ban all the muslims.” Donald Trump is a negotiator. The GOP should not have attacked Trump, but engaged in the negotiations with “That’s probably not constitutional, but here is what I would do to accomplish the same thing, which is to keep Americans safe from Islamic radicals.”
Nope, they couldn’t do that. And because of the hysterical response from so many, including good friends of mine on the right, Trump wins the round.
And there is one other thing. The candidates attacking Trump, who are at 2 and 3 percent in the polls are enabling Donald Trump to continue. If Jeb Bush really thinks Trump is unhinged, he should withdraw from the race because he is getting his ass kicked by an unhinged man. I hate to put it that bluntly, but it is true. The presence of so many candidates still in the race in December before the Iowa caucuses allows Donald Trump to remain in pole position. The other candidates are jockeying with each other for position instead of in a position to joust with Donald Trump. It is their fault Donald Trump remains on top. They and the Washington GOP, that for so long failed to address the issues the base cares about, created Donald Trump.