Fight Defeatism and Bring Back the Big Tent

We’re in primary season, and this time it feels different. More than 40 Republican legislators have either left Congress or announced they will not seek reelection. And while many political commentators view this exodus as a clear indication of a blue wave coming in November, this is not necessarily the case. We have a chance to redefine the Republican party and there has never been a better time to do so.

Democrats aren’t pitching a positive message. They have embraced the divisiveness of identity politics, called for arbitrary and ineffective gun-bans, and waged a hate-filled culture war against Middle America. They have lost their way and increasingly pander to the most extreme and vocal members of their party. And right now, they are complacent; they believe the November election is in the bag and there is no way for them to lose.

But Republicans have a positive vision to sell and a track record of success. You wouldn’t know it by listening to the media, but the U.S. economy is growing at a healthy pace, unemployment is nearing record lows, and our government is becoming more efficient. And this is in spite of massive opposition from the Democrats and many in the Republican establishment. Imagine what Republicans could accomplish if they had competent people in Congress. Republicans have been selling ideology for too long. It’s time to sell results.

But it’s hard to get results, and politicians have grown accustomed to running campaigns on fear and division. Establishment politicians, the media, and the swamp appeal to our worst instincts. They divide us by pushing ideological purity, focusing on wedge issues, and convincing us that our best days are behind us. Our social divisions grow deeper as ideologues continue to make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Believe it or not, Americans tend to agree on more than they disagree. Nearly all of us, for example, want our economy to grow so that more people can find work and become productive members of society. Most of us want to take care of our most vulnerable citizens by setting up basic and efficient safety nets. And many of us want to reform the immigration system so that people breaking the rules and crossing the border illegally don’t cut the line while law-abiding immigrants have to wait years and pay thousands of dollars to get through the process. This idea of simple fairness resonates with most people.

The election of Trump was a repudiation of ideological purity and the increasingly extreme views that polarize Washington. Most Americans simply are not that invested in conservative political ideology. They go along with conservative hardliners because they have seen how disastrous the Democrats’ policies have been. But neither party’s establishment has been particularly successful at implementing practical solutions to pressing problems. Most Americans know that this is true.

A large segment of the Republican establishment is leaving Congress. Who replaces them will determine the future of our country.

Republicans are lagging in the polls right now, but the elections are still months away. The whole point of running a campaign is to promote a vision for the country; why would we expect consumers to buy something they hadn’t yet been sold?

Running a good campaign isn’t easy. It’s even more difficult when people on your own side keep saying you’re going to lose. But public opinion can change easily. As Trump showed convincingly in 2016, the only poll that really matters is the one on Election Day.

Until then, Republicans need to fight every day to find and elect good candidates. This is not a job for the party establishment. This must be a grassroots effort.

So, look around your community. Look for the most competent people—hard workers who won’t forget what they are fighting for when they get to the vaulted and gilded halls of Washington. Convince them to run and get them elected.

Anything can happen in a few months. The media and the political pundits think that we are going to lose this election and that impeachment is just around the corner. Let’s prove them wrong. Let’s assemble a slate of competent candidates who will put forward a positive vision of unity. Let’s win.

About Karl Notturno

Karl Notturno is a Mount Vernon Fellow of the Center for American Greatness in addition to being an entrepreneur, musician, and writer. He recently graduated from Yale University with degrees in philosophy and history. He can be found on Twitter @karlnotturno.

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