Dispatches from Cleveland: A Conservative Looks Ahead

Dispatches from Cleveland: A Conservative Looks Ahead

By Ken Reid.

Mr. Reid is a former Leesburg District Supervisor and was an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which concluded July 21.

The Republican National Convention concluded Thursday with the theme of “Make America One Again,” and unity and inclusion was the message of the evening.

Before Donald Trump took to the podium to outline his program for Making America Great Again, we saw a Republican Party cheering gay PayPal founder Peter Thiel for telling us delegates:  “I am gay, I am a Republican, I support Donald Trump for president, but most of all I am an American.”

Our platform does not support gay marriage or “transgender rights” such as bathrooms.  But it was great to see this conservative audience not booing, but cheering and welcoming this great corporate executive to our party, regardless of his sexual orientation.

Trump’s 75 minute speech may have lasted longer than that due to applause and an interruption by a demonstrator who got media credentials.  To his credit, Trump was silent while the disruptor was removed by police, instead of speaking “Get ‘em out of here” into the microphone, which has been a mainstay of his rallies.

Many of our Virginia delegates, however, sat and listened and were not hollering or waving signs.  Many are still smarting  over the rules changes they wanted that were not brought for a vote at Monday’s convention session.  They are skeptical of Trump.  On Facebook and Twitter, there are fears Trump is a closet liberal Democrat and will not adhere to “conservative values and principles.”  Trump’s post convention news conference rehashing the lack of endorsement by his chief primary rival, Ted Cruz, did not help.

I am a conservative, too.  But the reality is that  the “Conservative Movement” has lost on many fronts.

It has been unsuccessful blocking gay marriage, and abortion.  Ultrasound bills in various states and other efforts have met with backlash.  We lost women voters due to that.

We started the conversation on illegal immigration in 2005, and then backed off when Washington became consumed by liberal political correctness and lobbyists from restaurant groups who wanted chief labor.

We are not liked by Muslims, Indians or many Asian voters either, as we have allowed the media and Hollywood to define our policies as xenophonic, racist, homophobic and largely white.

Our interventionist polices in Iraq have proved unsuccessful, and we can’t get a real game plan to stop ISIS.

We have been unable to stop living wage increases in various states, unsuccessful at blocking or repealing Obamacare, and we cannot even get the votes to defund Planned Parenthood’s abortion operations.  North Carolina and Georgia faced boycotts over legislation deemed to be anti-gay by the LGBTQ lobby.

And, most of all, we have ignored millions of people in Coal Country, former Steel Valley cities and those who saw the American dream decline the last few decades and fall through the floor after the 2008 housing financial crises.

The Conservative Movement has become a mish-mash of dogmatic, ideological pressure groups, each with its own litmus test of who is and is not a “conservative,” and which cannot unite for the sake of winning, but are more interested in winning arguments and keeping the coffers of their respective organizations full.

Meanwhile, the national Republican Party has completely failed millions of Americans who have been screwed by Wall Street, K Street and folks who want to live on easy street.  “The Forgotten Americans” Trump addressed in his acceptance speech have been completely forsaken by the two national parties.  Our inner city African American folks have been sidelined, too, including by the first African American president.

Donald Trump’s “movement” will help redefine Republicanism and Conservatism for the long-term and hopefully make the Republican Party more inclusive.

In Virginia, why would we conservatives sit back and not help Trump to allow Hillary Clinton to become president and finish off our coal industry and put miners and their families into poverty?  Why would we want our defense and aerospace industries to not prosper, which they will under Trump, who promises to “build the best military in the world.”

We forget that the “Reagan Revolution” was successful due to its appeal to a broad array of Americans; i.e. the so-called “Reagan Democrats” that pundits like to talk about.     Many conservatives live with a lionized view of The Gipper and forget he made compromises.  Like Trump, he was a master of the media and did not apologize for his views.

But the voters are not fools;  they sense a strong leader who will stand up for the country and other Republican candidates who promise more of the same without any real hope of achievement.   Trump reminded us last night that 14 million voted for him in the primaries – 20% more than who voted in the Democratic contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

I would hope Virginia conservatives will not just vote for Trump, but work for him, doing the door knocking and phone banking needed to win elections.  I am already out there talking to Leesburg voters.

But the Trump campaign must reach out to elected supervisors, state senates and delegates who are concerned about being associated with this campaign.  And, in Loudoun, we are a “battleground county” in a battleground state.