Is It Time for Republicans to Move Past Trump?
People have different ideas about the appropriate role for government. Democratic political institutions allow citizens to express those ideas, albeit imperfectly, by campaigning, contributing monetarily, and voting for candidates and parties whose ideas correspond closely with their own. The troubling thing about many Trump supporters is that they appear to be supporting the man himself rather than the ideas he stands for.
Some people consider themselves conservatives, others view themselves as progressives, some as socialists, others as libertarians. They support candidates and parties based on the ideologies behind those labels. Republicans (mostly) self-identify as conservatives, and political institutions give them the opportunity to join with others to further those views on the appropriate role of government.
There is an analogy with sports teams. University of Alabama fans love Nick Saban because he’s made the Alabama football team a consistent winner. At my own school, Florida State University, Bobby Bowden was revered for decades for that same reason, but fired before he wanted to go because the team’s performance was declining. It was sad to see him go (everybody loves Bobby Bowden!) but allegiance was to the team. Nick Saban won his first national championship at Louisiana State University. How many LSU fans shifted their allegiance to Alabama after Saban went there? Not many. The allegiance sticks with the team, not the coach.
This should be even more true in government, where outcomes have a direct effect on everyone’s lives. A nation slips into dangerous territory when citizen loyalty shifts from ideas to individuals. Trump lost the election. It is time for Republicans to move on and support politicians who can further their ideas on the appropriate role of government.
Some Republicans might agree with Trump’s claim that the election was stolen from him. Fine. But he still lost, and for Republicans who hold that view, the appropriate response is to work for election reform to prevent stolen elections, not to support Trump. Do you think that mail-in ballots and early voting contribute to voter fraud? Then put your energy into those issues rather than supporting a loser.
We enter dangerous territory when people give their political allegiance to people rather than to ideas. That moves us closer to the types of governments ruled by the Hitlers, Stalins, Maos, Castros, and Putins of the world. Trump has been very effective in shifting the loyalties of some Republicans from the conservative ideas of the party to his own persona. This is unambiguously bad for the Republican party.
One reason term limits are desirable is that they are a check on having people’s loyalties shift from ideas to individuals–they are an impediment to having the United States become like Russia, ruled by Putin, or China, ruled by Xi. Like it or not, Trump lost the election, and it is time for Republicans who are committed to the ideas of limited government that have defined the party to move on—to support their party’s ideas rather than the man who lost the election.