My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:
It has been a week since Donald Trump won the Indiana primary and, with Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropping out, became the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for president of the United States of America. In a primary field full of weighty Republicans, the most lightweight candidate floated to the top.
With a presumptive nominee, now is the time for Republicans to coalesce around the candidate to defeat Hillary Clinton, or so the narrative goes. Certainly, Trump has tapped into a rage that many Americans are feeling toward a government that has become increasingly intrusive while failing to address the real problems within our nation. That rage is justified and Republicans need to respond to it.
But as someone who has voted for the Republican presidential candidate for his entire adult life, I refuse to cast a vote for Trump. In choosing Trump as their candidate, the Republican Party has left me behind. Since I will also not vote for Clinton, I am looking hard at third party candidates.
My reasons for not voting for Trump are fairly simple. I am a lifelong conservative who votes for candidates who will advance conservative solutions for our nation’s problems. That is not to say that I must agree with everything a candidate believes in order to support him or her. I did not agree completely with Mitt Romney, John McCain, or George W. Bush, but I agreed with them on most of the big issues.
Trump is not a conservative — he is not even close. Based on his seven decades of history on earth and not on whatever platitudes he has been mouthing for the past few months, Trump is a New York liberal Democrat. He is prochoice, anti-second Amendment, pro-big government, prosocialized healthcare and on and on. He has not offered a single policy prescription that does not include an expansion of government power.
Trump combines his liberalism with a revolting character and personality. He is a serial and unapologetic adulterer. Trump is a braggart in victory and petty in defeat. Trump’s bigoted and elitist rhetoric is a big reason why his unfavorable ratings are more than 50 percent with women, minorities, millennials and conservatives. He is a man unencumbered by social or ethical mores and is proud of it.
There are some Republicans who argue that we must support Trump to make sure Clinton is denied the opportunity to appoint liberal justices to the Supreme Court. That argument rests on two tenuous pillars. First, it assumes that Trump will win, which is highly unlikely given his polling and the electoral map. Second, it assumes he would appoint more conservative justices when there is no evidence to suggest he will do so. Trump is a liberal and assurances to the contrary from a habitual liar do not bring comfort.
More simply, I will need to be able to go to sleep Nov. 8 with a clean conscience and wake up Nov. 9 and look my children in the eyes. I would not be able to do that should I exercise my franchise to commit my great nation to the governance of Trump.
While the presidential election is lost for conservatives, Wisconsin is not, and it is important to hold it. For the past six years, Wisconsin has been the center of a renaissance for conservatism. This renaissance is at grave risk. During the primary election, 65 percent of Wisconsin Republicans voted against Trump and now he will be at the top of the ballot. The task for the Republican Party of Wisconsin is to acknowledge and respect the anger of Trump’s supporters while affirming that Trumpism is not conservatism for the rest of Wisconsinites.
To do this, the RPW and leading Republicans should commit all state resources to supporting Wisconsin Republicans and not spend a dollar on supporting Trump. In a state that already leans Democratic and has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate since 1984, Trump’s incredibly divisive campaign means that he stands virtually no chance of winning the state. The RPW should not waste state resources on a losing effort and should, instead, focus all of their time and money on making sure Republicans hold the state Senate, Assembly and incumbent Congressional seats. In particular, the open 8th Congressional seat and Sen. Ron Johnson are in serious danger of turning Democratic in this election.
The RPW has had success recently because of smart, conservative leadership and an educated, motivated base that votes in exceptional numbers. If the RPW goes the way of Trump, it will be abandoning the former and betraying the latter. An electoral rout would be the inevitable, and justifiable, result.
Conservatives are walking back into the wilderness at the national level, but there is no need for that to happen in Wisconsin. We still have a lot of work to do.