The biggest problems are restrained enthusiasm and outright hostility within some corners of the conservative movement and the Republican establishment. An Oct. 7-8 Economist-YouGov poll found that Hillary was winning 87% of Democrat voters, but only 81% of Republicans were backing Trump. This must improve. With the country increasingly polarized and fewer people in the middle, getting out the party’s base voters can be more important than appealing to independents.
Those waffling on the right need to wake up and remember what our system is all about. A party wins elections by getting the most votes, ideally over 50%, and constituents usually would be thrilled if they subsequently got 50% of what they wanted from a politician. No faction is ever going to get 100% of what they want, but there can be no doubt that conservatives would achieve more of their agenda with Trump in the White House than Hillary. The man prizes loyalty and will remember who got him there.
Traditional Catholics Unite! Help The Remnant do its part to defeat Hillary Clinton.
During this campaign, Trump has done more than any recent Republican nominee to show conservatives he will be loyal to them. After he secured enough delegates to clinch the nomination, there was a downpour of conservatives crying that Trump was on the verge of picking a supposedly squishy running mate such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, or former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. Some openly worried that Trump might tap a Democrat.
None of this came to pass. In selecting Mike Pence, Trump overlooked that the Indiana governor had endorsed Ted Cruz in the Hoosier primary to join forces with a Tea Partyer with a proven, solid record that earned a 99% rating from the American Conservative Union during his dozen years in Congress. Pence’s experience as a governor and legislator show that Trump is serious about having a vice president who can take the lead in the dance of legislation. And they’ve been clear about their direction on issues fundamental to conservatism.
On the vital question of replacing the late traditionalist Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court and picking other federal judges, Trump has said explicitly, “I’m not appointing a liberal judge.” He took the unprecedented step of releasing a list of judges he’d consider for the Scalia seat, which won plaudits from the conservative Judicial Action Network, the Federalist Society, the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, and Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, who fought judicial activism for decades.
The GOP nominee likewise has vowed to adhere to conservative orthodoxy on bread-and-butter issues such as guns, tax cuts, and pro-life advocacy. On the latter, it’s important to highlight that the Trump team pulled no shenanigans to remove or water down the pro-life platform plank at the convention like occurred in previous years, such as 1996 when Kansas Sen. Bob Dole was the standard bearer and tried to ditch it altogether. “I am, and will remain, pro-life,” Trump wrote in an Oct. 5 letter to the Catholic Leadership Conference in Denver. “I will defend your religious liberties and the right to fully and freely practice your religion as individuals, business owners and academic institutions.”
One of the most important indications of Trump’s commitment to the right is revealed by those he’s sought out for his inner circle of advisors, such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (a Catholic convert) and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, one of the most reliable conservatives in Congress. His late-summer staff shakeup brought in Breitbart News CEO Stephen Bannon and pollster Kellyanne Conway, two Catholic streetfighters of the conservative movement, to spearhead the sprint to Nov. 8.
Conservatives need to ignore the illogical position pushed by some that not supporting Trump is somehow not enabling Hillary. The next president will be the candidate from either the Democrat or Republican parties, so not supporting the GOP nominee directly aids his opponent. “This is a binary choice,” Ambassador John R. Bolton, a longtime conservative fighter in Washington, has pointed out. “Talk about a third party is badly misplaced. The idea of not voting at all is no better because, functionally, that’s a vote for Hillary.”
Trump is making this a competitive race, which is no small miracle given the all-out media war against him. The divisiveness of Hillary’s Republican enablers might snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. That would make the Never Trumpers responsible for four to eight more years of implementing the Obama-Hillary agenda from which America might not recover. In 2016, conservatives will unite or die.
Brett M. Decker is the New York Times bestselling author, with Phyllis Schlafly and Ed Martin, of the new book, “The Conservative Case for Trump” (Regnery, Sept. 6, 2016, $18.99). He has been an editor for The Wall Street Journal, editorial page editor of the Washington Times, a communications advisor for Republican leadership in Congress, and a senior appointee in the George W. Bush administration.