GOP Brass Wants Trump Out of the Debates

According to a new report from the New York Times, top Republican donors are worried sick about Donald Trump. Gathered at the Republican Governor’s Association this weekend, “donors and operatives” were trying to come up with a strategy that might prevent Trump from participating in the first primary debates. Held by Fox News, the debate is structured so that only the top ten candidates have the floor. Unless something changes dramatically in the next couple of weeks, that group will include Trump. And that’s something the GOP elites are eager to avoid.

Meeting in Aspen, Colorado, the donors talked about having two or three of the top candidates boycott the debate unless Fox agreed to keep Trump on the sidelines. The reasoning was that the lower-tier candidates would follow their example, leaving Fox with no choice but to acquiesce unless they wanted to hold the debates with Trump alone. Unfortunately for the strategists, the leading candidates appear unwilling to go along with such a gamble, fearing they could look weak if they refuse to take the stage.

That’s a sensible concern. After all, why should the American people respect a presidential candidate that can’t hold his own against a wild card like Trump? These debates shouldn’t really be about the Republican Party; they should be about determining which candidate is best suited to take on Hillary Clinton. They should be about finding someone who has what it takes to turn this country around. If Jeb Bush or Scott Walker can’t stand up to Trump, what hope do they have of facing down the Democrats? What chance do they have of defeating ISIS?

What’s really insipid about this is how the Republican Party wants to thwart the will of the conservative base. Trump isn’t buying support, he’s earning it with his brash campaign. What right does the GOP have to say that his supporters are wrong? Maybe they would be better off examining what makes Trump popular and why. If they want to remain a viable national party, they might do well to see what the voters really want. Just an idea.

A Spectacle That Shows So Much

Whether Donald Trump emerges with the GOP nomination or not, his candidacy has given voters some baldfaced truths about today’s Republican Party. Conservatives have been rightly critical of congressional leadership since the beginning of the year, and Trump’s campaign has solidified that anger. It could not be clearer where Republican priorities lie. It has become the party of compromise, the party of surrender. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are so desperate to convince voters that they can “get along” that they might as well not be there. Obama faces almost no congressional resistance on anything. The GOP talks a good game, but it always falls apart in practice. Now their top politicians are slamming Trump and his followers every chance they get.

Once this election is over, conservatives are going to have to take a hard look at the Republican Party and determine whether or not it remains the home of conservative principle. Trump’s campaign may be a spectacle. It may even be a “circus sideshow.” But it has exposed a great divide on the right.

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