Last night, a most peculiar tweet was sent out from the Chairwoman of the GOP, Ronna McDaniel. A lot of ears perked up when it was sent out, and it led to a lot of discussion about the state of the GOP.
Complacency is our enemy. Anyone that does not embrace the @realDonaldTrump agenda of making America great again will be making a mistake.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) June 14, 2018
The obvious first reaction – and the reaction of many conservatives who don’t like Trump – was to call this out as some sort of threat. It comes across very much as a “Get with the program or you will be escorted out the building” type of tweet, and that can rightfully put people on edge.
Journalists, too, felt there was a tinge of menacing behind the tweet, and I won’t deny that, for a moment, I was sure it was meant to be a threat. It’s the careful choice of wording that led me to the conclusion. Break the tweet down and there is a word that stands out among all the others: Embrace.
Hang on, though. I’m going to come back to that word in just a moment.
Yashar Ali of New York Magazine and Huffington Post noted that there may have been a specific target for the tweet: Representative Mark Sanford, the South Carolina Representative who lost a primary race on Tuesday night.
Some say McDaniel is talking about GOP candidates like Sanford…and not Americans generally…but that doesn't matter. This language is troubling…and its even more troubling without context. https://t.co/fqfD3HrWrC
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 14, 2018
Sanford was very openly against Donald Trump. He does not see Trump as a conservative, and he does not see Trump as someone good for the GOP in the long term. Sanford lost his primary by roughly four points, and many were quick to judge the failure to perform as a result of his outspoken anti-Trump nature. Nevermind that Sanford voted roughly eighty percent of the time with Trump. He did not like Trump, and therefore he failed to win re-election.
But, having talked to some people in South Carolina, and seeing it confirmed elsewhere on social media, the fact is that Sanford didn’t seem to take his race seriously up until the last few days. He is, and I am quoting a friend, “notoriously cheap”, and that extends to his campaigning. He didn’t see his opponent as a threat, and he certainly didn’t want to waste any money on her.
The media response, the response from his victorious opponent, and the response from Trump’s camp are all the same, though: Sanford wasn’t on board with Trump, so he deserved to lose.
That brings me back to that word that McDaniel used.
Embrace is a very specific word in this type of rhetoric. You must be one hundred percent with Trump at all times, or you must get out of the way. The feeling that it’s all or nothing, that you’re with Trump or against Trump, that drives me up the wall. Especially given that RedState has a long history of calling Republicans out when they do wrong, and even a President of the United States can be wrong.
After all, the President is a man, and man is historically a flawed creature. You see it time and again throughout history.
So, naturally, I resist any attempt by a politician or their spokespeople to put me into a corner and say “You’re either with us or against us.” Nine times out of ten, that pits me against you.
I’m not someone who ran around with a #NeverTrump label. I have been very critical, but I have also gone out of my way to praise what I think is good about some of Trump’s moves. In particular, the fact that the economy is out-performing all expectations time and again is a clear testament that his rolling back of Obama-era regulations is a good thing, and the Fed bumping up interest rates again yesterday confirms it.
But, there are times when Trump is wrong. He is wrong to praise Vladimir Putin and he is wrong to praise Kim Jong Un. His statements in the face of the atrocities that occur under Kim’s watch are, at best, misguided. At worst, they are a clear signal that Trump admires the strong, authoritarian type. After eight years of Barack Obama, Trump supporters should not be enthused by this.
Trump is a deeply flawed man, and his ideas on strong, authoritarian leadership as well as his ill-advised trade war are just some of the huge negatives. There is no perfect candidate, and there is no perfect human (save Jesus), and we would be foolish to expect one in a politician.
So, no Mrs. McDaniel. I won’t be embracing the Trump agenda. I praise Mark Sanford for not doing so, as well as the countless other conservatives who have refused to do so. We belong to an ideological movement, not a cult of personality. Or, at least we did.
At any rate, I won’t be joining one.