So this is an interesting dilemma? The usual haters of Chairman John Whitbeck and RPV are backing him on the recent Politico story that talks about the state party instituting a loyalty oath, with the apparent support of Ken Cuccinelli. The focus of this idea is Donald Trump, who has refused to say he would endorse whoever the eventual nominee is. This looks to be a way to end around Trump out of possibly appearing on the state primary ballot. This is a hilarious turn of events as primary supporters argued that their method of nomination was the best way to build a big tent so everyone could participate. Now they are using a loyalty oath to do the exact opposite, something that could have been solved with a convention. Oh well, water under the bridge.
This also isn’t the first time a loyalty oath has been floated by RPV. In the winter of 2011-2012 this came up and I blogged about it a couple of times on my old site. What I said back then still applies today, we shouldn’t have to pledge loyalty to the party, the party should pledge loyalty to us. The only oaths I’ve made in my life are to God and my wife, and I honestly don’t plan on expanding that much more. Letting the state party decide who is a Republican and who isn’t is a bad idea. If you don’t like Donald Trump, get off your butt and organize your friends and neighbors around the candidate you support. Shutting out him and, more importantly, his supporters is a dangerous precedent that can be used against anyone in the future.
The way to defeat Donald Trump is not with attacks and exclusion but with kindness. His supporters are real, their issues are real, and they are not raging racists. And if you want to play that raging racist card, let’s think back about how some of our past GOP presidents have acted (Reagan kicking his campaign off in Philadelphia, MS and George W. Bush’s campaign in South Carolina against McCain, for starters). I can’t say I can ever foresee myself voting for Trump but I want to make sure his supporters remain in the party and part of that big tent the establishment of our party have claimed they want so badly. Attacking Trump and disenfranchising his supporters shrinks the party, shrinks our energy, and exposes primary supporters as hypocrites. You want the party inclusionary, but only with your people. Creating party policy and precedent out of spite or anger at one person you don’t like is not how a party should be run.
Lastly, I want to address Trump’s reasoning itself. He isn’t willing to support whoever the GOP nominee is and instead of working to make sure that happens, we are trying to put a gun to his head. I understand and respect those who say if you want the party and it’s infrastructure to work for you, you should be willing to work the same for whoever the nominee is. But Trump’s views on supporting the eventual nominee are held by more Republicans than the party probably wants to admit. Attempting to keep him off the ballot through a loyalty oath, or whatever it is, will only further prove Trumps point and makes it more likely many conservatives will sit this one out, especially if a Jeb or Kasich is the nominee. The party’s handling of Trump has been all wrong. The party both state and federal needs to embrace his campaign and treat them fairly, do everything possible to reach out and accommodate. If he then still bolts for a third party run, so be it, but then the GOP will have a the moral high ground to make a real appeal to his supporters that the GOP remains the conservative alternative they want. Our goal shouldn’t be to keep Trump in the party, it should be to keep his supporters in the party. His followers are very loyal and we must remember everything you do to him you are doing it to roughly 30% of the party now (whatever his numbers are).
We need to play nice, let everyone in the pool, and trust our own voters to choose wisely. If the GOP chooses Donald Trump in Virginia in a primary, then I’m sorry, you’ve lost the battle. Want to stop Trump? Do it at the ballot box, don’t game the system, because you will be doing a lot of damage to the base of our party that is supporting him. I know you hate it, I know you don’t like it, but his support is real and his supporters should be respected.