This is probably not even within the realm of the practical, but let’s toss it out there and see if it floats — right?
From this morning’s POLITICO :
Establishment stalwarts in their 60s, meanwhile, are rolling their eyes at the angst of these rarefied intellectual purists, saying there’s nothing wrong with tinkering with your ideology for the sake of forming a coalition to hold power, no matter how motley. To them, Trump is a black swan event, and the way forward, though significantly more difficult after the chaos he’s wrought, isn’t all that fraught: Toss some ideological dead weight overboard to bring in more voters, and run a candidate like Trump’s VP pick Mike Pence in 2020.
That is an appalling prospect to the younger conservatives, some of whom have begun to use the word “collaborator” to describe the Republicans who publicly signed on with Trump as he steamrolled toward the nomination. “I know lots of high-value donors who have no desire to have any collaborators at the top of the ticket in 2020,” Glover said of Pence. “That’s a commonly held opinion.” “Pence has disgraced himself in this election,” says reformicon archpriest Pete Wehner, a senior fellow at the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center and a former senior adviser to the younger Bush. “He has been making arguments that he can’t possibly believe, on behalf of a man he can’t possibly believe in.” To them, Pence made a pact with the devil, and says Wehner, “There should be consequences for that.”
I will freely admit that I am no fan of Donald Trump. What grates at me most of all is the fact that he has mainstreamed ethnic and racial nationalism to the point that it is a definable feature in both the Democratic and Republican Parties. Perhaps I come from an era where non-racialism was the goal… but the devolution into anti-racism and pro-racism camps is shocking, demoralizing, and against everything I believe as a Catholic. So if you want to put the finger on my opposition to Trump — there it is.
Let’s weigh the scales for a moment though. Not every Trump supporter buys in to the “alt-right” messaging — in fact, far from it. Personally, I bristle at the idea that the conversation on foreign policy and trade is being defined as a grand melee between globalism and nationalism (Americans are neither, we are federalists), but the economic concerns over Schumpeter-style “creative destruction” shipping jobs overseas? That’s a serious one.
The tidal wave of an automated workforce is equally concerning in an era of globalization, as 17-40% of the jobs people do right now are going to be obsolete in 5-10 years, and no one — not Washington, not Richmond, not your local courthouse — is worried about workforce development or microfinance as solutions.
But this is all a digression from the main points we want to make here:
(1) The progressives and liberals have a very different idea of America than we do.
(2) The conservatives and the populists are going to have to find a way to forge a “grand coalition” that matches populist concerns with conservative ideas — or vice versa.
I don’t know what this grand coalition will look like, nor do I know who will lead it. But the one thing I think we can all agree upon is this — a Republican “civil war” might be tempting, even cathartic… but it will deliver the nation into Democratic hands for the next 4-6 years.
Now obviously this doesn’t have to be the case. Democrats after their 2004 shellacking were able to reinvent themselves in just 18 short months to come over the wall in 2006 . One side — typically the well funded one — can reinvent the party in the event of a loss…
…but that doesn’t rebuild the friendships lost after a particularly harsh battle where one side considers the other as traitors, the other as collaborators.
So here’s the idea (and RPV, listen up — this is good petition fodder). Everyone reading this needs to subscribe to this basic pledge or some variant that doesn’t sell our or morph into a “loyalty oath”:
I, _______________ do hereby pledge that I will neither do harm to nor blame my fellow Republicans for their position regarding the Trump presidential candidacy of 2016, and will work to advance the Republican cause in 2017.
Call it the Non-Recrimination Pledge.
Now obviously, folks are clutching their pearls over criticism of fellow Republicans in an election year. Pshaw, I say… the same folks whining over a critique of Trump certainly have no compulsions about throwing rocks at Comstock, Taylor, or Goodlatte (or Ryan).
Repeat after me: Criticism is not disloyalty — stamp it in bronze plates and hand them out at the RPV Advance to everyone who comes through the door… we’re the party of free ideas, free speech, and a free society: own it.
To wit? Rep. Dave Brat certainly has no problems recriminating against Speaker Paul Ryan, according to the New York Times :
“There’s a huge chunk of people who want to see a fight taken to D.C.,” said Representative Dave Brat, Republican of Virginia and a member of the House Freedom Caucus, which has pressed Mr. Ryan on several issues since he became speaker last year. Mr. Brat said many conservatives remained perplexed as to why Mr. Ryan and Republican leaders would choose to criticize Mr. Trump rather than focus their energy on Mrs. Clinton.
“Leadership comes and smacks our guy?” Mr. Brat said. “That’s where you’re going to put down a marker? Really? And the American people are just scratching their head saying, ‘Really? That’s rich.’”
Mr. Brat’s advice for Mr. Ryan: “He’d better pivot. He’d better pivot hard.”
That’s one hell of a thing to say about a Speaker Ryan who just dropped $800,000 in a VA-05 effort that claims to be up 11 points .
But see what I mean? If Brat wants the civil war, right on — pistols up and let’s do this. Of course, were I the good congressman, I might be more worried about pivoting on Brat’s pro-abortion yet somehow still pro-Constitution stance  and how that synchronizes with the values of good Christian folk back home… but I digress yet again.
Recrimination on Trump? Either it’s going to redefine the GOP or not… but let’s not identify the populist surge by its worst elements anymore than we should identify the “establishment” conservatives by their worst.
Let’s give this one a mulligan — and give each other a break.
UPDATE: Apparently Ben Shapiro and I are on the same brainwave — or at least a similar one. From the pages of National Review :
The only way to rebuild a Republican party based on conservative principle is to acknowledge the good motives of those who disagree about Trump. We all want to stop Hillary Clinton and her vile agenda. We all want to reverse decades of Democratic policy on immigration and government growth, on social leftism and leftist race-baiting. If Trump loses, we’ll have to get over our differences about him to do that. We all had sincere positions on Trump. It wasn’t just preening. It wasn’t unearned moral superiority. We had serious disagreements, but we agree on basic principles. If we can agree on all of that, there’s a future for conservatism.
Unfortunately, the immediate feedback from both camps has been one of mutual recrimination. Collaborators and traitors seem to be the marching orders of the current environment.