Recently, there have been a few conservative political figures who have come out and criticized the president for one reason or another. The most prominent and vocal critic would have to be Senator Mitt Romney. The most recent critic is former security advisor John Bolton. Not only is he facing backlash from the GOP, but his recent statements, along with the release of his new book, has his actions painted as a grand betrayal to conservatives everywhere with the conservative media echoing these claims as well. Romney and Bolton aren’t the only major critics of Trump.
Amidst recent protests, military leaders have seemingly lined up to criticize the president; Fox News is under fire from the president for allowing anti-Trump ads to air on their network; and there are constituents of the major GOP who aren’t afraid to speak up either. As a Trump supporter myself, I understand the anger over criticisms especially as an election approaches. While I disagree with many criticisms of Trump, I recognize that he is not perfect and any meaningful criticism of the president needs to be heard and discussed. The problem is that most if not all criticism of the president is often disregarded altogether and we never deduce whether or not a criticism is worth talking about. The assumption always is that it isn’t.
So why is this a problem? The simple answer is that Trump has practically taken over the Republican Party. It wasn’t hard to do. Like the Democratic Party, the Republican Party is fragile and has little to no backbone. It is easily influenced by Trump's popularity among those on the right. It has become a party with almost unwavering loyalty to Trump. This wouldn’t completely be the case if the party and Trump were trying to push each other in certain directions but currently, it seems that Trump is doing all the pushing. Just to clarify, when I say the Republican Party, I am talking about the majority of those in Washington. I find that many conservatives and a great deal of conservative politicians do not hold the same loyalty. Trump has just managed to stay true to most of his campaign promises which has helped his support among conservatives. However, ever since his inauguration, Republicans for the most part have aided consistent attacks on critics from within the party. Now, rarely can a conservative get elected if they are not a “Pro Trump Candidate'' or if they hold even the smallest of criticisms of him. Because of this, we are now in a situation where a potential better candidate for any office has little chance of getting elected solely due to Trump’s monopoly of the Republican Party.
On a slightly deeper level, the disdain for criticism from conservatives is a problem because it has created an atmosphere within the Republican Party in which the prominent group of thought is dictated by Trump and the party itself. It stifles most conservative ideas different from their own. The Republican Party is supposed to be the defender of free speech but the moment anyone says anything unpopular or anything that could possibly hurt Trump’s chances of reelection, it attempts to silence them. As a result, the Republican Party, like Trump, has become stubborn, static, and unwilling to reflect upon itself and improve. This problem has become a real threat to the conservative movement because the Republican Party is the largest entity in America that supposedly speaks for the conservative voice. Regardless of how Trump has seemed to bring some sort of vibrancy to the conservative base, if he, and by extension, the Republican Party, cannot accept and discuss criticisms, different ideas, and reflect upon themselves to improve, they will be unable to listen and learn from others. If they cannot effectively do that, they will struggle to grow their base. Objectively discussing criticisms from those within the party can and will help to identify some mistakes that have been made before those mistakes become real problems. If the party cannot do that, it will no longer be able to legitimately serve its purpose. Because of this, the Republican Party, while doing some good things, is the main force holding back the conservative movement. It is the main reason why the movement struggles to grow and thrive. If this is not recognized then conservatives will not be able to sustain their opposition to the radicals on the left which, regardless of what anyone thinks, is the only real political threat at the moment to American Democracy.
Now, I know it seems that I am basically attacking the Republican Party and Trump, but in reality, while I am not happy with the Republican Party right now, I do want to help them. Right now, the party is blind to its own faults and I just want to help it and all conservatives see them. Also, whether all conservatives like it or not, the Republican Party currently is the only major opposition party to the left; and until there is a party that can rival it, if that day even comes, then conservatives, regardless of background and occupation, need to be able to criticize each other in order to learn for ourselves, grow, and improve the Republican Party for the betterment of the conservative movement. Criticism from the left is to be expected. While I do think some of it is worthy of listening to, most of it is just criticism out of bias and without support of fact. I find this to be the same from some on the right but the main difference is that that criticism comes from a conservative point of view.
I am not naïve and recognize that some criticisms from conservatives are purely due to their dislike of Trump and the GOP. However, we cannot be so paranoid that every time a criticism is made, the assumption is that it is based on hatred or a bias. Trump, the GOP, and conservatives may not like what some critics have to say, but if we do not give their criticisms serious thought, then we will be forever confined to the idea that what we believe has no faults. I say we because we, conservatives, are the support of the Republican Party. If we keep allowing the GOP and Trump to ignore criticism, I can only see things staying as they are if Trump gets re-elected. If someone calls Trump unfit to be President and he ignores that claim, then maybe he is unfit. But if he is willing to listen to why that claim is made and potentially learn from it, the next 4 years can only get better.
Article by Tyler Sanders