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Ray Haynes

Why This Movement Conservative Will Support Donald Trump

My time in politics has taught me a few rules:
(1) You have to win to implement good policy;
(2) The purpose of winning is to implement policy, not achieve power therefore winning without good ideas and policies is meaningless;
(3) You win by addition and not by subtraction by joining natural allies, not alienating them;
(4) Politics is a team sport, the factions fight with each other in the primaries to choose the quarterback, but once chosen, the only way to win is to join with natural allies in the general election.

The Republican Party is made up of several factions:

(1) Business Interests: these interests tend to fund the operations, they have no guiding principles (usually) except what is best for their business;
(2) Libertarian/Small Government activists: These are the inheritors of the traditional (Jeffersonian) liberalism, anti-tax, small government, individual liberty activists. They may disagree on small issues, but they are the core of the “leave me alone” coalition, driven by their desire for freedom to pursue their life without government interference;
(3) Big government conservatives: these are the pro-military/pro-police voters, they are not necessarily anti-government, or even pro-freedom, they are driven more by security concerns than liberty concerns;
(4) Social Conservative activists: these are the pro-family, pro-life activists, driven in politics mainly by their deeply held spiritual beliefs;
(5) Populist/”America First” voters: these are the anti-illegal immigration, “pro-America” voters, they aren’t necessarily pro-“free enterprise” so they don’t really fit into the leave me alone coalition, but they agree with them mostly on most small government issues, except in the case of trade and immigration;
(6) “Establishment” Republicans: those who are Republican by birth or allegiance. Those who are Republican by allegiance often make their living or obtain significant benefits by their political connections; and
(7) Movement conservatives: those who seek to join the principles of each of the factions, not agreeing with them, or even holding any one of them as their major motivating factor, but agreeing “in principle” with the major principles of each of the major factions.

I am a movement conservative. I am a Republican because I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle to promote conservative values. Life, family, small government, less taxes, freedom, and “America First” are all principles in which I believe.

In this last primary fight, Trump appealed to the populist/”America First” side of the party, the first seeker of the Presidency in a long time to press that button in politics. That faction rewarded his appeal with their loyalty. Our quarterback has been chosen. As I supported Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney (who were not my first choice, and all were establishment Republicans), I will support Trump. Trump has the added benefit in that, interestingly enough, in addition to the “America First” appeal, he espoused “movement conservative” principles to win.

Some of those who, like me, are movement conservatives worry about Trump. The so-called “#NeverTrump” movement conservatives are thought to believe that, because Trump has not been involved in our common cause for a long time, he isn’t “one of us.” Our problem is that, in many cases, he has utilized our rhetoric to win. We cannot, on the one hand, claim to believe in the rhetoric, and then on the other say, that one who has used that rhetoric to win an election is unfit to be in office. I don’t believe, however, that most of the “#NeverTrump” types are of the “not invented here” opponents. I think they don’t believe that Trump’s conversion to a movement conservative is sincere. That is a real concern, I have my doubts, but I will give him the benefit of those doubts, unless he does betrays the principles he espoused to win the nomination.

In the meantime, we have a Republican nominee who became a nominee by appealing to Republican voters on Republican issues, appealing to Republican values. Based on that, I will support Trump as the nominee until he abandons those principles. This election comes down to two issues: (1) Security from in-country terrorist attacks; and (2) the Supreme Court. Trump is better than Hillary on both, and will, if he does the right thing on those two issues, will deliver a net benefit to the country. That is enough to support him. I hope he holds to the other Republican values he has espoused on the other issues of importance to me, but he must on these two issues to continue to earn my support. That is what being on a team means.