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LeDoux on The Hill: Republicans face sobering reminder for November

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The last couple of weeks conservatives have gotten drunk on the idea that the possibility of a blue wave was looking more like a blue puddle because of a tightening of poll numbers in the generic congressional polls. Well this last week has been a conservative hangover, as day after day delivered bad news for the GOP.

More primaries have come and gone, and more moderates and traditional conservatives lost to populists. Here in the DMV, Corey Stewart, a candidate that claimed to be more Trump than Trump and had connections to all the worst actors in Republican politics bested Libertarian state delegate Nick Freitas and Pastor E.W. Jackson, drastically hurting Virginian Republicans down the ballot. Barbara Comstock in Northern Virginia had her congressional seat move from a toss-up to leans Democratic because of the nomination of Stewart.

As the week progressed a reckoning in the youth movement of the party happened, Turning Point USA had several scandals including one of their main spokesperson making awful comments about the #MeToo movement, the leaking of chat logs where leaders of TPUSA were attempting to get their own members to not talk about the scandal, former employees making accusations about faking their numbers, and alleged cover up of misconduct that happened at events.

Many young conservatives were less than shocked to hear about this, because many of us knew that TPUSA has always been more about making headlines than it has been about building a real movement. The best example of this was when Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens ditched a local chapter that risked their reputation, time and money to allow them to speak on their campus to hang out with Kanye West instead.

It’s finally starting to seem young conservatives are starting to realize that elevating people just because they’re young is a bad idea and we should have a higher standard than that.

Finally to top it all off, the complete disaster of separating immigrant children from their parents has taken center stage.

The policy has received deserved outrage from all sides. Pretty much every church denomination and some evangelical preachers like Franklin Graham decried the policy. Some huge border state Republicans such as Ted Cruz, Laura Bush, John McCain and Jeff Flake also denounced the policy. Even Trump himself said the policy was wrong but came up with lukewarm excuses on why it had to be continued.

Despite the policy being morally reprehensible on its own, it may have been one of the worst political miscalculations we’ve seen in a long time. According to a Quinnipiac University Poll conducted this week 66 percent of Americans oppose the policy, and public support for DACA recipients has reached 79 percent. The fact no one in the White House was prepared for backlash tells me that there’s way too many “yes” men and an environment of group think there. It is even more crazy that the people falling on the sword to defend this policy that has virtually no upsides. I’ve seen countless conservatives lining up to make ridiculous claims about why this policy is good and bending over backwards to justify it.

I just hope this is a sobering reminder to all Republicans that we’re in trouble in November, and while it’s still early and there is time to fix it, that time is dwindling fast. I do think congressional Republicans and activists have what it takes to turn this around, but it will take many of us returning to our principles that made conservatism so attractive to begin with. We need to hold ourselves to higher standards, be patient and calculated in our reasoning, and hold each other accountable.

The one part of conservatism I really hope does return is the ability for people in the movement to be able to openly disagree with each other. No other aspect has been more frustrating with this presidency than the expectation that all Republicans must line up to support him.

No other Republican leader since I have been involved in politics was this an expectation, especially with Mitt Romney and John McCain.

It’s a bit scary that in the primaries this week the one scandal that brought down the infamously scandalous politician Mark Sanford was his disagreement with this president. That speaks volumes about where the party is currently.

I’m hoping for a return to Ronald Reagan’s idea of a big tent, where our core principles are the same but we are still allowed to be different. In order for that to happen though people from the less Trumpy lanes of the party need to speak out, go to party meetings, and stop holding their tongues. Ideas have to be debated in order to be heard, and debate is good for any political party.

Samuel LeDoux is a native New Mexican who grew up in Española and Nambé. He is a former Republican campaign operative who served as a delegate for New Mexico at the 2016 Republican National Convention and a former Chair of the Santa Fe County Republican Party. He is now studying for his master’s degree in political management at The George Washington University in Washington D.C.