“In a democracy, oftentimes other people win.”
Note: This is a repost of an article originally written on May 6, after Donald Trump effectively won the Republican nomination. It has been updated slightly to reflect the events of the past six months, but is as relevant today as it was then.
The 2016 Presidential Election is over. Over the course of the past year, I backed four separate candidates for president—Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Evan McMullin—and they all lost. And the candidate I fought hardest against (Donald Trump) has emerged victorious. The voters have spoken, our process has run its course, and Trump has won.
So what now?
As the former employee of a nonpartisan software company, and now as a political consultant, one of my core values is a deep respect for process, democracy, community organizing, and the will of the voters. I fundamentally believe that every campaign and cause—not just the ones I personally prefer—deserves access to the best tools and counsel, and that voters ought to have the opportunity to make their choice in a fair and open process. The voters have chosen Donald Trump, rejecting nearly two dozen other candidates in a fair and free election. I don’t agree with their decision, but I respect it.
Moreover, I believe that President-Elect Trump deserves congratulations. He achieved what most political consultants and pundits thought impossible: a convincing Electoral College victory. He, and his team, deserve recognition and congratulations for that feat.
As a Republican, and as a conservative, I believe that there has never been a more important time to be actively engaged in the supporting and growing my party. Our party is far greater than any one person: it is, and will continue to be, the primary vehicle for the conservative movement in the United States. I will do everything within my power to support and grow the party, particularly in competitive Senate races, through state & local parties, and in other down-ballot races that are often ignored by the national media but are integral to the success of our cause.
Mr. Trump’s success has exposed deep and real divisions in the conservative coalition that is the Republican Party, and—despite our electoral successes—if we’re going to succeed as a movement we’ll need to come to terms with and address those divisions. The people who have fueled his rise are real, with real problems and valuable perspectives to contribute to our national conversation. We should not marginalize or dismiss them, but rather listen to their stories and address their needs. Rather than just acknowledge their anger, then pivot to a canned talking point, we need to approach them from a place of empathy and understanding.
I believe that as the 2016 Presidential Election has exposed these deep fractures in our coalition, the 2018 Senate and Gubernatorial Primaries will be about competing visions for how to heal them. Winning cures all ails, but only for a short time; and for those of us whose candidates lost this cycle, the next two years need to be spent investing in our party and in formulating a positive vision for how to unite it. If we do not succeed in this, the 2018 elections will undo all the gains we’ve made over the past six years.
So while I’m disappointed that my preferred candidates failed to secure the nomination, and that my efforts in support of Evan McMullin’s candidacy fell short, I’m ironclad in my conviction that we must do everything we can to strengthen and heal our party. The future of the nation and of the conservative movement depends upon a healthy, vibrant, and electorally sustainable Republican Party that solves the very real problems affecting ordinary Americans. That must be our priority over the next two years.