In the boisterous competition for the Republican presidential nomination, I am noticing a disturbing trend — the tendency by some to attack the supporters of the two leading candidates, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
As you know, I have endorsed Cruz. But I do not understand the willingness of some on the right to adopt the left’s narrative about the people most likely to vote Republican. Whether it’s the most traditional conservatives who lean toward Cruz or blue collar working-class Americans Trump is appealing to, the Republican Party needs these voters.
They turned out en masse for Ronald Reagan, transforming the Republican Party and giving us eight great years. Sadly, we’ve struggled since to put that coalition back together.
Unfortunately, in recent weeks, I have heard supporters of Trump and Cruz derided as “Know-Nothings,” “wackos,” and “racists.” This over-the-top rhetoric is not coming from the left, but from the supporters of other GOP candidates, their consultants and a few pundits on the right.
If you want to secure the border, as Cruz and Trump say they do and which millions of Americans support, that does not make you a racist. If you are tired of watching the decline of America and want us to be a first-rate power again, that does not make you a “Know-Nothing.”
If you don’t understand what important public policy purpose is served by bringing in 250,000 Muslims each year without determining whether they actually believe in American values like religious liberty and tolerance, that’s not bigotry. It is prudence.
If you offend all the people who believe in these things, you can run anyone you want and they won’t win without their votes.
Let’s assume that someone other than Ted Cruz or Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination. How does the party put together a successful effort to stop Hillary Clinton if significant elements of the party are engaging in slash and burn attacks against conservative voters?
It is okay to disagree over who the nominee should be. But disagree agreeably and avoid tearing down the party in the process. Whatever divides Republicans pales in comparison to what divides us from the left.
As I have repeatedly stated over the past year, conservatives should be aiming their fire at Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, not each other.
Gary L. Bauer served in President Ronald Reagan’s administration for eight years, as Under Secretary of Education and as President Reagan’s Chief Domestic Policy Advisor.